Premier League Notebook: Goals galore in thrilling day of EPL action
I’m not sure who asked Santa for a truckload of Premier League goals this year, but whoever it was I’m forever grateful. With a large proportion of football fans waking up on Boxing Day with Christmas hangovers, there was nothing better than sitting on the comfy couch, eating leftover turkey sandwiches, and watching in delight as the Premier League had one of its highest scoring days in years.
The league goes goal-crazy
In the 169 games leading up to Christmas there was an average of 2.79 goals per match. That was pretty good going – up from 2.69 in 2020-21 and 2.72 in 2019-20. But that was completely blown out of the water on Boxing Day with a whopping 28 goals across six games – an average of 4.67 goals per game.
Five of the six games featured three goals or more, and there was just one half of football across the six games that didn’t feature at least one goal. While it was not pretty reading for the majority of goalkeepers, Aaron Ramsdale, Hugo Lloris, and Robert Sanchez all somehow came away with clean sheets, while the rest of the league’s defenders looked like they were still trying to run off their Christmas dinner.
City exert their dominance
League leaders Manchester City helped themselves to six of those 28 goals as they hammered Leicester 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium. The game was done and dusted at halftime as Man City went into the break 4-0 up, and although the visitors pulled it back to 4-3, it didn’t take long for Pep Guardiola’s side to reassert their authority.
That moves the league favorites six points clear of Liverpool, as the Reds’ game with Leeds was postponed, and Guardiola’s men have now moved level with Liverpool in goals scored this year (50).
It means at the halfway stage City are now six points better off than they were last season when they won the title. They’ve scored more goals per game (2.63 vs. 2.18), conceded fewer goals per game (0.63 vs. 0.84), and have kept more clean sheets (58% vs. 50%).
Can anyone stop them?
Premier League Winner Odds
Jorginho is Chelsea’s Mr. Reliable
Jorginho scored two penalties on Boxing Day to help Chelsea to a much-needed 3-1 win away to Aston Villa. It’s been a patchy run over the last two months for Chelsea, who have dropped points in the league to Burnley, Manchester United, West Ham, Everton, and Wolves, but this win moved them level on points with Liverpool in second.
It was in no small part thanks to Jorginho, who has now scored his last 10 Premier League penalties and has an 89% success rate in the league for Chelsea. The Blues have scored seven penalties this season – more than anyone else in the top-flight – and Jorginho’s nerves of steel have kept Chelsea in the title hunt.
In his entire career, Jorginho has an 86% success rate from the spot, and Chelsea are feeling the benefit now.
It’s Gunner be a good 2022
In the last eight games only Liverpool and Manchester City have a better record than Arsenal. Despite being the laughingstock at the start of the season after losing their opening three games, Mikel Arteta has turned things around and the Gunners are now in fourth, six points clear of the chasing pack.
Their 5-0 thrashing of Norwich was their biggest win of the season and gives them their fourth win on the bounce. They’ve scored 14 goals in that run and conceded just once as the Gunners put daylight between themselves and their top four rivals.
They face Manchester City on New Year’s Day at the Emirates Stadium, which promises to produce fireworks.
Covid chaos set to ensue
One other unknown element that could play into Arsenal’s hands in the race for the top four is the number of postponements in the league. The Gunners are six points clear of Tottenham, and eight clear of Manchester United, but both of those teams now have three games in hand.
Similarly at the bottom of the table, Burnley are in the relegation zone but have three games in hand on Leeds, who are only five points above them.
A lot can change over the coming weeks and months, but with the FA Cup set to resume in early January and the top clubs picking up European duty, the fixture list is going to get increasingly congested. It might turn out having points on the board is worth far more than a game in hand, if those rescheduled games mean a team is playing every three days for an extended period.