A draw against Sunderland saw Manchester United make their worst start to a Premier League season since 1992-93, while unchanged Chelsea look like the team to beat
By Duncan Alexander
ERIK/ERIC THE KING
Tottenham endured a strange 2013-14. While statistically it was one of their better Premier League campaigns, the mid-season managerial change and associated fall-out left many fans disillusioned.
Spurs’ start to the new season has changed all that, though, with the Lilywhites top of the nascent league table, while record signing Erik Lamela is finally leading the charge, a year after he was signed.
After providing an assist for only one goal in his first 10 appearances for Spurs, the Argentine assisted two goals in seven minutes as QPR were run ragged at White Hart Lane.
|Nacer Chadli’s second goal against QPR saw a build-up of 48 passes, the longest ever recorded by Opta in a Premier League match.|
|Ashley Young has been booked three times for simulation in the Premier League since August 2008. Only Gareth Bale (7) has been booked more for diving in that period.|
||Joel Campbell made his Premier League debut for Arsenal 1100 days after signing for the club.|
|Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel made eight saves against Chelsea, more than any player in a Premier League game this season. His dad, Peter, made 96 saves in his final season in the English top flight (2002-03). The race is on.|
|At Crystal Palace, West Ham bagged three or more goals away in the Premier League for only the second time in their last 44 games on the road.|
|Swansea’s returning hero Gylfi Sigurdsson already has provided two PL assists this season after failing to notch a single assist in 25 appearances for Spurs in 2013-14.|
UNITED WE FALL
In contrast, the future for Manchester United looks as uncertain as it did during much of last season. A 1-1 draw at Sunderland isn’t necessarily a bad result but a laboured performance was illustrated by the fact that Robin van Persie played 63 minutes and didn’t have a single shot.
One point from their opening two matches represents United’s worst start since losing their opening two games in 1992-93 and although they went on to win the title that season, they had run Leeds close 12 months earlier.
In contrast, the current team have at least four, possibly six teams they need to close ground on, all of whom have settled sides, while United attempt to do some late business in the transfer market.
Cesc Fabregas has become reaccustomed to the Premier League as if his three years in Spain with Barcelona were nothing more than a racy dream.
After creating two goals in Chelsea’s opening match at Burnley on Monday night, he added one more assist in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Leicester at Stamford Bridge.
Touted as the ideal replacement for Frank Lampard, in two matches Fabregas has created only one goal fewer than the former Blues icon did in his final two seasons at the club.
Against the Foxes, Chelsea fielded an unchanged starting XI in the Premier League for the first time since October 2012 and burgeoning partnerships like the one between Fabregas and Nemanja Matic augur well for Jose Mourinho’s remodelled outfit.
There were echoes of last season for long periods of the Everton v Arsenal game on Saturday. Seamus Coleman, so dangerous in front of goal before the New Year, scored as Arsenal conceded from the first shot on target for the second game in a row.
Meanwhile, the Gunners’ torrid away record against the top five continued; Everton’s first half double-salvo means that the Gunners have conceded 22 goals in their five away games at Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City since the start of last season.
And yet where Arsenal buckled in 2013-14, they came good a year on. Led by Aaron Ramsey with his fourth goal in his last five Premier League appearances, Arsene Wenger’s team rescued a point that may have a lasting psychological effect on their ability to contest the league title.
ENTER THE VOID
Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle won’t live long in many people’s memories but statistically it added to a trend that has afflicted/helped the Villans throughout Premier League history.
It was Villa’s 92nd goalless draw, which is 14 more than any other side, and more robustly it means that 10.8 per cent of the games that they have played in the competition have ended in stalemate.
Proportionally, the only team more likely to see a 0-0 draw in the Premier League are Villa’s neighbours, long-departed Coventry City, with 11.6% of the Sky Blues’ games ending scoreless.
At the other end of the scale, both Barnsley and Burnley have competed in the Premier League without drawing 0-0, while the ever-present team least likely to experience one are Manchester United, with only 5.5% of their games ending goalless.