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Frank Lampard’s April To Forget

Frank Lampard’s April To Forget

It has been a desperate return to Chelsea for Frank Lampard. He has lost all five games he’s managed since Todd Boehly made the decision to sack Graham Potter and recall the man who had already been the manager from July 2019 until January 2021.

How bad has it gotten? Well, they didn’t win a game in April and haven’t won since their win over Leicester on 11 March. To be fair to Lampard, he only took over two games into April so the 2-0 loss to Aston Villa and the 0-0 draw with Liverpool can’t be put on him.

There are 98 teams across the top five European leagues. Between league football, domestic cup competitions and European football they played 475 matches in April. There were 660 goals scored during those games.

Chelsea accounted for one of them.

That’s the same number as Elche, who have 13 points at the bottom of La Liga, and are 19 points adrift of safety. Empoli are the only other team to score the same number as Chelsea this month.

Chelsea are bottom of the table in terms of goals scored in April but they are 16 of 98 in expected goals (9.84). They are eighth in total shots with 101. The worrying thing is that only four teams played more games than they did (seven). 

With April in the books, they will look to May and breathe a sigh of relief to see the back of this horrendous season. But they play Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle in four of their last six games.

Real Madrid scored 22 goals in April, that’s the most along with Manchester City. Todd Boehly’s Gálactico era is just getting started but it’s hard to think how it could be going worse.

Barcelona Chasing Defensive Immortality

Barcelona are all but confirmed as champions of La Liga. They were beaten 2-1 by Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday night but Real Madrid were trounced 4-2 the night before by Girona. Barcelona picked up a valuable three points at the weekend against Atlético and have a nice cushion of 11 points with seven games to play.

The question for them now is can they beat the all-time record for fewest goals conceded in La Liga. The current record is held by both Deportivo la Coruña and Atlético Madrid (in a 38-game season). Both those sides conceded just 18 goals. Barcelona have conceded 11 with seven games to play.

Barcelona are conceding just 0.35 goals per game so far. It would stand to reason then that they are on course to beat the record by a healthy margin. They are, of course, outperforming their xG against through the season too though and the two goals they conceded against Rayo were both uncharacteristic of them but also more in line with what their xG against tally tells us.

It has been a long season for Barcelona with a group-stage elimination in the Champions League and another elimination in the Europa League against Manchester United.

Their upcoming games against Real Betis, Osasuna (who are in a Copa del Rey final) and Real Sociedad along with a city derby against Espanyol will test their pulse for sure. But they have the seventh easiest run in. 

The record for fewest goals conceded by a Barcelona team came during Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique’s tenures in 2011 and 2015 when they conceded 21. Both of those managers believed attack was the best form of defense. Xavi has been defending a little more than he might like during his first full season in charge but it turns out defense is a pretty good form of defense too.

The Premier League’s Biggest Changes In Styles

The Premier League’s Biggest Changes In Styles

From Newcastle United under Eddie Howe to David Moyes at West Ham, we take a look at which teams in the Premier League have undergone style transplants since last year.

Nobody likes being taken off in the middle of a game. We take a look at the highest-scoring players who constantly see their number on the fourth official’s electric board.

Changing Styles

Muhammad Ali once said that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. In Premier League parlance, that saying might go something like this: ‘everyone has a plan until they find themselves sandwiched between Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth at the bottom of the table.’

Some teams with idealistic managers find themselves having to adapt to more pragmatic tactics to match the realities of the quality of their squad. Others, like David Moyes at West Ham, find themselves fighting against their natural aversion to risk.

Brighton’s ascension under Roberto De Zerbi continues unbated. The Seagulls are playing some beautiful football, and have moved even deeper into the bottom-right quadrant in the viz above. When you’re moving closer to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, you know you’re doing something right. Brighton were always progressive under Graham Potter but they’ve taken that to a whole new level this year.

Only two teams (City and Chelsea) average more passes per sequence than Brighton’s 4.1 and similarly only City (14.9s) and Arsenal (11.4s) hold onto possession for longer on average than Brighton’s 11 seconds. In 2021-22 Brighton ranked eight and seventh in those metrics respectively. They’re also averaging over four more 10+ pass open-play sequences this season compared to last.

Both Manchester United and Tottenham are going slightly more direct this season versus last. Both squads play in systems that look to maximise the benefit of transitions, and boast players in the forward line who love breaking on the counter. 

Changes Without The Ball

West Ham and Crystal Palace are the two teams allowing more sequences with 10 or more passes against them this season compared to last. 3.3 and 3.4 more per game respectively.

On the other end of the change spectrum, Newcastle United have been completely transformed under Eddie Howe. They are allowing 7.7 fewer sequences with 10 or more passes against them per game. The Magpies were allowing 13.18 of such sequences and that has dropped to just 5.80. They want the ball and they want it now.

They allow 4.1 fewer passes per defensive action since last season. The average sequence time against them has seen the biggest drop in the league too – down 2.22 seconds on last year.

They have 1.89 more high turnovers per game this season compared to last and only Arsenal (1.37) are anywhere near them in how much they have changed in that metric. 

The teams going in the opposition direction? It’s not West Ham but Liverpool. They have 2.22 fewer high turnovers per game than they did last season.

Robert De Zerbi and Eddie Howe have Brighton and Newcastle United fighting in a completely different way than last season. They find themselves at the top of the table. David Moyes has changed West Ham’s style too and they can’t land a punch.

The Most Subbed Off Players In Europe

We’ve all been there. The game is in full flow and things are starting to happen. Your manager signals to the referee that he wants to make a change. You wait for what seems like an eternity before realising it’s you.

Yep, you’re being hauled off.

Some players hide their disappointment better than others. Some hang their head and sulk to the bench. Others mutter expletives under their breath. Which players have the most reason to be upset for being subbed off constantly this year?

Brahim Diaz has started 25 games and been subbed off in 25 games this season. Brecht Dejaegere is exactly the same (25 in 25).

Raphinha recently had a go at Xavi on the Barcelona sideline after being substituted against Manchester United. He might have had a point too. He has scored nine goals but is being subbed off in 60.5% of games this season.

For players with more than 10 goals this season, Michael Gregoritsch has been subbed off in the highest percentage of his games (82.3%). Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the breakout star in Europe this year has 14 goals but has been hauled off in 80% of his appearances (30 appearances, 24 curly fingers). 

Substitutions are not always made because of poor performance but it must get tiring as the team’s talisman to rarely finish a game.

The Analyst

Youngest Managers To Win The Premier League

Youngest Managers To Win The Premier League Erling Haaland scored five goals against RB Leipzig on Tuesday night. Those goals propelled him beyond the Mo Salah and Ruud van Nistelrooy goal-scoring record debate and into Dixie Dean territory. Can he catch the Everton legend?

If Mikel Arteta wins the Premier League, he will become the youngest manager to lift the trophy by more than a year. Whose record is he trying to take? We take an age-centric look at past Premier League-winning managers.

Erling Haaland vs Dixie Dean

Erling Haaland has propelled himself into another stratosphere. He is chasing what seemed an untouchable record held by Dixie Dean after he equalled Luiz Adriano and Lionel Messi’s record for most goals in a Champions League game on Tuesday night.

He sat on 34 goals in all competitions before Manchester City played Leipzig in the Champions League, neck and neck with his competitors for most goals in all competitions in a season among Premier League players.

After his five-goal effort, he now has 39. After 36 games in 1993-94, Andrew Cole had scored 36 goals. Harry Kane had 35 in 2017-18 after the same amount of games.

But neither hold the record. The record is held by Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002-03) and Mohamed Salah (2017-18), who both scored 44 in 52 games – 0.84 goals per game. Haaland is averaging 1.08 per game this season.

Manchester City have 11 games left in the Premier League, at least two more in the Champions League and they play Burnley in the FA Cup on Saturday. That’s at least 14 more games to score five goals and beat Van Nistelrooy and Salah’s record.

Dixie Dean? Well that’s another story entirely. Back in 1927-28, Dean scored 63 goals in 41 games for Everton. No, we haven’t accidentally switched those numbers. He scored 1.53 goals per game that season. That record won’t be matched, surely, but Haaland might have 63 goals in his sights.

Haaland would have to average 1.71 goals per game across those 14 games to catch Dean but if City progress in the FA Cup, as they’re expected to, he’ll have even more games and will likely be in touching distance of the more than 100-year-old record.

The Special One, The Youngest One

If Mikel Arteta manages to pull off a Premier League win this season with Arsenal, he will cease to be a manager. Or a former player. Or a husband, dad or human being for that matter. He will become a unit of measurement.

Yuichiro Miura climbed Everest when he was 80? That’s cool but Mikel Arteta won the Premier League when he was 41. Tatum O’Neal won an Oscar when she was seven? Not as impressive as Mikel Arteta beating Pep to a PL title at 41, mate.

The current holder of the record is Jose Mourinho, who won the title with Chelsea in 2004-05 when he was 42 years and 94 days old back when he lived up to his own billing as ‘The Special One’.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, Arsenal and City go to the wire and the title is decided on the final day of the season, the 28th of May, against Wolves. Arteta would be 41 years and 62 days old. That is a full 397 days younger than Mourinho.

The oldest manager to win the Premier League? It’s Alex Ferguson. He has won 13 out of 30 so it would make sense then that he featured at one end of the spectrum. Fergie was 71 years and 112 days old when he last won it with Manchester United having lifted his first when he was 51 years and 122 days old.

Pep was 47 years and 86 days old when he won his first Premier League title but by then he had already won three LaLiga and three Bundesliga titles by then.

Arteta has a ways to go before he catches Fergie, Pep or Jose but winning the PL this season, when they started with basically no chance, would be quite the way to lift his first league trophy.

Source: the analyst