Premier League review: Ole at the wheel, Death by 1000 passes, Jiménez's magical moment
Premier League review: Ole at the wheel, Death by 1000 passes, Jiménez's magical moment

Premier League review: Ole at the wheel, Death by 1000 passes, Jiménez's magical moment

Liam Kelly reviews the Premier League action from a data perspective, highlighting points of interest after the latest round of matches.

The aim of this weekly column are to provide standout stats from each round of fixtures, to use underlying numbers to identify recent trends, and to inform punters with tools to improve their betting on the Premier League.


United in circles with Ole at the wheel

Ah, the vicious cycle that is Ole Gunnar Solskjær's reign as Manchester United manager.

Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa was another checkpoint reached in United's circle of life under Solskjær. A marker that will no doubt be followed by nostalgic soundbites, a string of positive results, maybe even an excellent result against a formidable opponent, before the seemingly inevitable orbit back to this very point.

Solskjær is running out of excuses for such a poor performance, though. This is his team now; a group rid of the deadwood he inherited and filled with an abundance of talent that is missing the structure required to challenge for the Premier League.

United's shot map against Villa portrays their problems perfectly, an overreliance on individual skill that leads to a scarcity of good chances.

Manchester United shot map v Aston Villa

Excluding Bruno Fernandes' penalty — which might have actually reached orbit — United attempted 27 shots equating to a total 1.65 expected goals (xG), underlining an issue that lands firmly at Solskjær's feet.

However, we already know what happens next.

Ole's hands at the steering wheel, positioned at 10 and 2, always turned to the same angle despite moving at different speeds. Round and round we go.

Death by a thousand passes

In a cruel twist of fate for United fans, two managers with the requisite qualities to excel at the very top level went head-to-head in the same early afternoon Saturday slot.

Pep Guardiola bested Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge, as Manchester City were more than value for their 1-0 victory in the marquee match-up of the weekend (xG: CHE 0.32 - 1.73 MCI).

Chelsea City

Last season's title win had a 'Happy learned how to putt, uh oh' feel to it, dominating defensively and, as Pep described it, making "1000 passes" before picking "the right moment" to up the tempo in attack.

Although City ended the game 395 passes short of the thousand mark, they rediscovered that winning method against Chelsea — an ominous, machine-like display from the champions.

Can they repeat the feat at Anfield next Sunday?

Game of the season?

Liverpool will enter that fixture on the back of a disappointing 3-3 draw with newly-promoted Brentford, which, on numbers alone, was the best game of the 2021/22 season.

It was possibly the most entertaining piece of Saturday night television we've been presented with in years, as the two teams combined to record 5.80 xG (BRE 3.13 - 2.67 LIV), comfortably the highest total of any match in the league this term.

Infogol Fairness Ratings

Brentford and Liverpool also created five 'big chances' apiece, more than some Premier League teams have registered in the entirety of the six-game campaign so far, highlighting the wild nature of the fixture.

As mentioned, the Reds welcome City next Sunday, and Jürgen Klopp clearly has some defensive issues to iron out before that.

Brentford, on the other hand, continue to be a breath of fresh air under Thomas Frank.

Magical moment for Jiménez

As entertaining as the Brentford-Liverpool game was, nothing was more joyous this weekend than seeing Raúl Jiménez score in Wolves' 1-0 win at Southampton, his first Premier League goal since returning from a horrific head injury 10 months ago.

Wolves struggled greatly in his absence last season, averaging 1.13 expected goals for (xGF) per game and scoring only 25 goals across the 28 matches after Jiménez's skull-fracture against Arsenal.

His goal was a prime example of what Wolves were missing with Jiménez out of action; a focal point with the power, skill and composure to almost single-handedly create scoring opportunities.

After missing chances equating to 1.42 xG prior to netting the winner on Sunday, the Mexican's solo strike could well be a pivotal moment, perhaps a much-needed milestone en route to returning to his brilliant best.

Ultimately, though, it's just great to see Jiménez back on the pitch and scoring a worthy winner for Wolves.

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