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Tight at the top

Martin Tyler - Martin Tyler Posted 4th March 2014 view comments

Tyler's Teaser

Every week, Martin will set you a question of his own to get your grey matter working. Click above for this week's Tyler's Teaser - which comes from Wembley ahead of the Capital One Cup Final.

Send your questions to Martin

1: Email your posers to skysportsclub@bskyb.com

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Martin's Starting Stats

I was at Wembley on Sunday for my first ever League Cup final commentary. It was the 54th League Cup Final, and the seventh at the new Wembley and it gave Man City their third win after taking the trophy in both 1970 and 1976.

Fabio Borini scored in the quarter-final, semi-final and final - which is impressive despite not being a winner. Yaya Toure scored three goals in his three appearances in the competition this season and scored his third in six games at Wembley, having scored in the FA Cup semi-final and final of 2011.

Samir Nasri was a League Cup final loser against Birmingham in 2011, but made up for it with his second Wembley goal, having previously scored in an FA Cup semi against Chelsea. Jesus Navas scored on his first appearance at Wembley. His first goal came in the first game of Manchester City's run (5-0 win v Wigan) - and so he was involved from beginning to end of their triumph.

The tournament averaged just under 3.5 goals per game - slightly down on last year - but the final kept up the competition's reputation for goalscoring. City scored 22 and conceded just two, averaging a goal just over every 25 minutes in the run. Manuel Pellegrini said those stats justified their victory.

Having failed to score in three of the five previous games they found their goalscoring touch in the nick of time, taking their total for the season to 121 in 43 games. That's pretty impressive by the first week in March!

All to play four

Dear Martin. There are only 10 games to go in the Premier League season and the gap between first place and fourth place is just six points - and if Man City win one of their games in hand it will be just four points. Is this the closest the top four has ever been at this stage of the season? Ruth (Ipswich Town fan)

MARTIN SAYS: We asked Opta to look at the points gap between the top team and the fourth-placed team after 28 games of each Premier League season to consider whether this is the closest race we've seen. Obviously in some seasons the teams will not have reached 28 games at the same stage - as is the case this season - but we can look at how the top four looked when the team in first place had reached 28 games.

In each of the last 11 seasons, the team in fourth was at least 12 points behind the team in first at this stage. Indeed, in 2003/04 fourth-placed Charlton were a whopping 27 points behind Arsenal after 28 games.

However, the stats show that there is ONE SEASON where the top four were even closer than they are now. That was back in 2001/02 when Manchester United were top of the table with 57 points, but were only ahead of eventual champions Arsenal by goal difference. Liverpool were just one point further back on 56 points, while Newcastle were fourth after 28 games on 55 points. That meant just two points separated the entire top four at this stage in 2001/02. Arsenal went on a winning run at the end of that season and eventually won the league by seven points with 87 points.

Here is the difference between first and fourth after 28 games of each Premier League season:

1992/1993: 18 points
1993/1994: 21 points
1994/1995: 14 points (*4th placed team had played 27)
1995/1996: 12 points
1996/1997: 9 points (*4th placed team had played 27)
1997/1998: 12 points
1998/1999: 9 points
1999/2000: 9 points
2000/2001: 22 points
2001/2002: 2 points
2002/2003: 12 points
2003/2004: 27 points
2004/2005: 20 points
2005/2006: 23 points
2006/2007: 20 points (*4th placed team had played 26)
2007/2008: 12 points
2008/2009: 13 (*4th placed team had played 29)
2009/2010: 12 points
2010/2011: 12 (*4th placed team had played 27)
2011/2012: 15 points
2012/2013: 19 points
2013/2014: 6 points (*4th placed team had played 26)

A Hat-trick of hat-tricks

Hi Martin, Big fan, read the column every week. After André Schürrle's hat trick against Fulham this week, he becomes the third different Chelsea player to score a hat-trick this season after Samuel Eto'o and Eden Hazard, which has me wondering which club has had the most individual hat-trick scorers in a season? Keep up the good work! Thomas, Australia

MARTIN SAYS: Hello Thomas. With the help of Opta, I can tell you that this is only the 10th time in Premier League history that a team has produced three individual hat-trick scorers in the same season. As you can see from the list below, Chelsea have now achieved this feat three times, more than any other club, so this is effectively a hat-trick of hat-tricks of hat-tricks! The last three hat-tricks in the Premier League have been Chelsea players - so let's call it a perfect hat-trick too!

They have 10 games left to match the record of four hat-trick scorers in a Premier League season. That has been achieved by both Manchester United and Arsenal. Manchester United were the first to do it in 1999/2000 when Andrew Cole, Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Dwight Yorke all hit trebles. Arsenal matched that in 2002/03 when Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Jermaine Pennant and Robert Pires all scored hat-tricks (the latter two did it in the same game!)

Teams to have three hat-trick scorers in the same season:

LEEDS 1992/93: Eric Cantona, Gordon Strachan, Rod Wallace
CHELSEA 1997/98: Tore Andre Flo, Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola
MAN UTD 1999/00: Andrew Cole, Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dwight Yorke
ARSENAL 2000/01: Thierry Henry, Ray Parlour, Sylvain Wiltord
ARSENAL 2002/03: Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Jermaine Pennant, Robert Pires
CHELSEA: 2009/10: Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Frank Lampard
NEWCASTLE 2010/11: Leon Best, Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan
FULHAM 2011/12: Clint Dempsey, Andrew Johnson, Pavel Pogrebnyak
MAN CITY 2011/12: Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez
CHELSEA: 2013/14: Samuel Eto'o, Eden Hazard, Andre Schürrle

Drawing survival

Hi Martin, Great column as usual, West Brom have recorded the most draws and least wins this season by far, which got me thinking what team has had the most draws in a full season? And what team has stayed up with the least amount of wins in a season? Can consistently drawing keep you in the league? Wbafcfan

MARTIN SAYS: West Brom have drawn 13 games this season, which is four more draws than any other side. With 10 games to go they are just four draws short of matching the record for draws in a 38-game Premier League season, which currently stands at 17.

Three sides have drawn 17 games in a 20-team Premier League season - and all of them survived. Back in 2003/04 Newcastle United drew 17 of their matches and finished up in fifth place. Aston Villa have twice drawn 17 Premier League games in a season (in 2006/07 and 2011/12) and stayed up on both occasions. Those sides drew 45% of their games, whereas West Brom's current draw percentage is more than 46%.

In fact, only three teams have drawn more than 14 games in a 38-game Premier League season and gone down. Nottingham Forest drew 16 games in 1996/97 and finished bottom; Leicester drew 15 games in 2003/04 and finished 18th; plus Birmingham City drew 15 games in 2010/11 and also came 18th.

Teams to draw more than 15 games in a 38-game Premier League season:

TeamSeasonDrawsFinal position
Newcastle United03/04175
Aston Villa06/071711
Aston Villa11/121716
Nottingham Forest96/971620
Coventry City97/981611
West Brom04/051617
Coventry City10/11168

You also ask what team has stayed up with the least amount of wins in a season, as West Brom have only won four games this term. With the help of Opta I can tell you that the answer to your question is West Brom themselves. Back in 2004/05 they won only six matches all season - with one of those coming against Portsmouth on the final day - and managed to stay up in 17th place with just 34 points. The only other side in Premier League history to stay up with less than eight wins was the Aston Villa team of 2011/12 who finished 16th, despite winning only seven games all season.

Teams who survived with the fewest Premier League wins in a season:

TeamSeasonWinsPointsFinal place
West Brom04/0563417
Aston Villa11/1273816
West Ham09/1083517
Hull City08/0983517
Fulham07/0883617
Fulham06/0783916
Coventry City95/9683816

Suarez's strike-rate

Dear Martin. Saturday was Luis Suarez's 100th Premier League game and he scored his 62nd goal, which is obviously better than one every two games. Has any player ever scored that many goals in his first 100 Premier League appearances? His scoring rate has increased so if he stays with us for a few more years, could he set the record for 200 appearances as well? Mark (Liverpool fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Only four players have scored more goals than Luis Suarez in their first 100 Premier League appearances. He has netted 62 goals, the same number as former Liverpool hero Robbie Fowler managed in that time, but four men scored more.

Alan Shearer scored a remarkable 79 goals in his first 100 Premier League games - although he had previously played in the top flight when it was the old Division One. Ruud van Nistelrooy got 68 goals in his first 100 games for Manchester United, while Andrew Cole and Fernando Torres each scored 63 goals in 100 games - that's one more than Suarez.

Most goals in first 100 Premier League appearances:

Alan Shearer (79)
Ruud van Nistelrooy (68)
Andrew Cole, Fernando Torres (63)
Robbie Fowler, Luis Suarez (62)
Thierry Henry (59)
Ian Wright (56)
Michael Owen, Les Ferdinand (54)
Teddy Sheringham (53)

You also ask about players to have scored the most in their first 200 Premier League appearances and several of the names in the above list don't appear in this list. Ruud van Nistelrooy did not reach 200 games, while Fernando Torres' scoring rate dropped off dramatically (he only scored 21 goals in his second 100 appearances). However, the man at the top of the list is the same with Alan Shearer netting 145 goals in his first 200 Premier League games. Suarez would need to score 83 goals in his next 100 games to match that record. All of the players in this list have achieved something phenomenal when you look at the statistics.

Most goals in first 200 Premier League appearances:

Alan Shearer (145)
Thierry Henry (131)
Michael Owen (110)
Robbie Fowler, Andrew Cole (109)
Ian Wright (108)
Les Ferdinand (107)
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (102)
Robin van Persie (101)
Didier Drogba (95)

Look Hughes winning

Dear Martin. Love the column each week and I have a question. Mark Hughes seems to have a very good record as a manager against Arsenal. Is there any team he has beaten more often than Arsenal in the Premier League. I'd also be interested to know the favourite opponents for some of the Premier League's other big managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger? Craig (Arsenal fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Mark Hughes has beaten Arsenal five times as manager and has achieved wins with four different clubs - Blackburn, Manchester City, QPR and Stoke. Only Sir Alex Ferguson has more Premier League wins as a manager over Arsenal than Hughes.

However, thanks to Opta I can tell you that Arsenal are not the club that Hughes has beaten the most often as a Premier League manager. He has actually achieved nine wins over Sunderland, so they are his favourite club to face!

To answer your other question we have looked at the 20 managers to have taken charge of the most Premier League games and asked Opta to tell us which clubs they have achieved the most wins against. I can tell you that Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have enjoyed most success against Everton with Ferguson beating them 30 times in the Premier League and Wenger having 23 wins against the Toffees.

Alex Ferguson: Everton - 30
Arsene Wenger: Everton - 23
Harry Redknapp: Blackburn Rovers - 14
David Moyes: Fulham - 15
Sam Allardyce: Tottenham - 10
Martin O'Neill: Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham - 7
Steve Bruce: Bolton - 12
Alan Curbishley: Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough - 8
Mark Hughes: Sunderland - 9
George Graham: Southampton - 9
Joe Kinnear: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Norwich City, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham - 5
Graeme Souness: Middlesbrough - 7
Gordon Strachan: Tottenham Hotspur - 6
Kevin Keegan: Aston Villa - 9
Gerard Houllier: Newcastle United - 7
David O'Leary: Southampton, Tottenham - 8
Glenn Hoddle: Aston Villa, Leeds United, Southampton, West Ham - 6
Rafael Benitez: Everton - 10
Kenny Dalglish: Chelsea - 10
Bryan Robson: Coventry City, Everton - 6

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