Blogs & Opinion

Leaky leaders

Martin Tyler - Martin Tyler Posted 10th February 2014 view comments

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Martin's Starting Stats

Fulham ended a run of nine consecutive away defeats in the Premier League at Manchester United and David Moyes ended a run of 12 consecutive home victories against Fulham (all obviously with Everton).

It was only Fulham's second draw in the Premier League this season and their first away from home after drawing at home to West Brom on September 14. Their last away draw was 1-1 at Villa Park on April 13.

Robin van Persie took his total to 10 Premier League goals in 13 starts this season - seven in the last 8. Steve Sidwell, meanwhile, scored his first Fulham goal outside London. He has scored 15 before - 14 at Craven Cottage and one at Crystal Palace.

Darren Bent also scored at Old Trafford for the fourth time for four different clubs - Spurs, Sunderland, Villa and Fulham. A quite remarkable set of statistics!

First to four

Dear Martin. It's half-time in the Liverpool v Arsenal match and Liverpool are winning 4-0. I was wondering if Liverpool have ever scored four goals in 20 minutes in a Premier League game before and has any team scored four goals quicker than they have? Rob (Liverpool fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Hello Robert. To answer your first question, with the help of Opta, I can tell you that this was only the fourth occasion in Premier League history when Liverpool have scored four goals in the first-half of a match. The previous occasions were as follows:

02/05/1998: Liverpool won 5-0 at home to West Ham towards the end of the 1997/98 season and were 4-0 up at half-time with the goals coming from Michael Owen (4), Jason McAteer (21, 25) and Oyvind Leonhardsen (45).

20/08/1998: A few months later Liverpool won 4-1 away at Newcastle with all four goals coming before the break through a Michael Owen hat-trick (17, 18, 32) and a Patrik Berger strike (45). I recall Owen famously rubbed his hands together in that game!

02/12/2006: Liverpool won 4-1 at Wigan eight years ago with goals coming from Craig Bellamy (9,26), Dirk Kuyt (40) and Lee McCulloch (og 45).

So as you can see, Liverpool have never scored four goals in the first 44 minutes of a Premier League match, never mind the first 20 minutes.

Thanks to the boffins at Opta I can also confirm that this was only the sixth time that any Premier League team has scored four goals inside the opening 20 minutes. The other instances were:

03/04/2010: Manchester City beat Burnley 6-1 back in 2010 with Emmanuel Adebayor (4), Craig Bellamy (5), Carlos Tevez (7) and Patrick Vieira (20) getting them off to a perfect start.

20/08/2006: When Manchester United beat Fulham 5-1 at the start of the 2006/07 season they only needed 19 minutes to score four goals with Louis Saha (7), Ian Pearce (og 15), Wayne Rooney (16) and Cristiano Ronaldo (19) getting on the scoresheet.

22/02/2003: Arsenal themselves have scored four times in the first 19 minutes of a game when they beat Man City 5-1 back in 2003. Dennis Bergkamp (4), Robert Pires (12), Thierry Henry (15) and Sol Campbell (19) were the scorers.

26/04/1998: Leicester City became the quickest side to score four goals in a Premier League match when they beat bitter rivals Derby 4-0 in 1998. Emile Heskey (1, 8), Muzzy Izzet (2) and Ian Marshall (15) set the record.

25/08/1997: Blackburn Rovers' 7-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday began with four goals inside 20 minutes through Kevin Gallacher (3, 7), Graham Hyde (og 10) and Jason Wilcox (20).

So while Liverpool are one of the quickest to reach four goals in Premier League history, they could not match the efforts of Leicester City, who needed just 15 minutes back in 1998.

Fast braces aces

Dear Martin. Has a defender ever scored a brace quicker than Martin Skrtel did against Arsenal? In fact, I can't imagine many players have scored two goals in less than 10 minutes as he did. Maybe this is one for Opta? Carl (Liverpool fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Before the weekend, the fastest brace scored by a defender in the Premier League was scored by Chris Baird for Fulham against Stoke on December 28, 2010. His second goal was timed at 9mins 56 secs, whereas Skrtel's second against Arsenal came on 9mins 28 secs. That means Skrtel has broken the record for the fastest brace by a defender in the history of the Premier League.

However, plenty of other players have scored two Premier League goals in less than 10 minutes. In fact it has happened 27 times before. Of those players, we have seen three players score braces within the first four minutes of a match:

Edin Dzeko for Man City v Norwich (29/12/2012)
Duncan Ferguson for Newcastle v Southampton (16/01/2000)
Ryan Giggs for Man Utd v Southampton (18/11/1995)

So while Skrtel broke the record for a defender, he was six minutes short of getting the overall Premier League record for a brace.

Losses for leaders

Dear Martin. After Arsenal's defeat against Liverpool on Saturday I have two questions I'd like to ask. Firstly, has a team that was top of the Premier League ever lost by that many goals before. Also, seeing as Arsenal have conceded five in two games now (against Man City and Liverpool) has a team ever done that before and still finished in the top four? Edran (Arsenal fan)

MARTIN SAYS: With the help of Opta, I can tell you that Arsenal's 5-1 defeat to Liverpool is the third biggest loss suffered by a team leading the Premier League table.

The heaviest loss was inflicted on Norwich City, who were leading the Premier League on October 3, 1992 and lost 7-1 to Blackburn Rovers. They went on to finish third that season.

Exactly seven years later came the second heaviest defeat for a side leading the Premier League when Manchester United were beaten 5-0 by Chelsea. However, Sir Alex Ferguson's side went on to win the treble that season, so it didn't derail them too much.

We have seen three teams leading the Premier League lose a game by four goals - and two of those were Arsenal at the hands of Liverpool. One of those came on Saturday, while they also lost 4-0 at Anfield on May 6, 1998 when they had already wrapped up the league title. Meanwhile, Liverpool themselves lost 4-0 to Chelsea when they were leading the Premier League on December 16, 2001.

To answer your other question, I can tell you that six teams have finished inside the top four after conceding five (or more) goals in at least two games. In fact, we've seen one team win the league after twice shipping five - so there is still hope for Arsenal.

That team is Manchester United, who conceded five goals in consecutive games against Newcastle and Southampton. They lost 5-0 at Newcastle on October 20 and then 6-3 at Southampton on October 26 - and yet still won the league at the end of the campaign. Like Arsenal they conceded five in one game and six in another!

Six teams to finish in top four after conceding 5+ goals in 2+ games:

Manchester United (1996/97): Finished first
Newcastle United (2002/03): Finished third
Norwich City (1992/1993): Finished third
Blackburn Rovers (1992/1993): Finished fourth
Everton (2004/2005): Finished fourth
Tottenham Hotspur (2011/2012): Finished fourth

Crossing barriers

Dear Martin. Much has been made of Manchester United putting in so many crosses against Fulham on Sunday, but I'd like to know if this reflects the season as a whole. I'd like to know how many crosses each team has put in in the Premier League this season and where Manchester United are on the list. Junti (Manchester United fan)

MARTIN SAYS: The 81 crosses that Manchester United put into the box during Sunday's game is the most any team has produced since Opta's records began in 2006/07. The previous record for that period was set by Liverpool, who delivered 72 crosses against Stoke in a game in September 2008.

While this was clearly more crosses than normal, Manchester United have had more crosses (including corners) than any other side this season. Opta have counted 719 crosses from Manchester United's players this campaign, which is 86 more than any other side. The only other sides with more than 600 crosses are Swansea and Manchester City. Interestingly, the fewest crosses this season have come from Sunday's opponents Fulham, who have crossed the ball just 440 times.

Number of crosses delivered by each team this season:

Manchester United - 719
Swansea City - 633
Manchester City - 611
Southampton - 598
West Ham United - 590
Tottenham Hotspur - 572
Hull City - 569
Everton - 561
Norwich City - 554
West Brom - 551
Stoke City - 529
Chelsea - 522
Sunderland - 505
Newcastle United - 504
Arsenal - 495
Cardiff City - 494
Crystal Palace - 464
Aston Villa - 449
Liverpool - 444
Fulham - 440

Three in a red

Dear Martin. As a Sunderland fan I couldn't believe it when Wes Brown was sent off for a third time this season and we are only in the start of February. Has any other player ever received three red cards by this stage of the season before? I can't imagine they have.

MARTIN SAYS: Wes Brown has become only the sixth player in Premier League history to receive three red card in a single season. No player has ever received more. He's also the first player in more than a decade to get three reds in one campaign. The other offenders were as follows:

2002/03: Franck Queudrue - The Middlesbrough defender saw red against Leeds in October and was sent off in his next game against Newcastle at the start of November. He also saw red in May of that season against Bolton.

2001/02: Craig Short - Blackburn's Craig Short was given an early bath in his second game of the season against Manchester United in August and was also sent off against Sunderland on Boxing Day. His third red card came against Fulham on February 9.

1997/98: Slaven Bilic - During his Everton days, Slaven Bilic saw red against Newcastle in September 1997, before further sendings off followed against Chelsea on November 26 and Southampton on March 7.

1997/98: David Batty - Playing for Newcastle, former England midfielder David Batty was sent off in the second game of the 1997/98 season against Aston Villa before seeing red against Derby on Boxing Day and against Blackburn on May 10.

1995/96: Vinnie Jones - You may not be surprised to see Vinnie Jones in this list. The former Wimbledon midfielder saw red against Liverpool in September 1995, before also getting his marching orders at Nottingham Forest in November. He was then sent off against Chelsea on Boxing Day.

So to answer your question, Wes Brown is not quite the quickest to get three red cards - as Vinnie Jones had registered three sendings off before the turn of the year! It's also worth pointing out that Brown's red card against Stoke was rescinded later on.

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