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Win, Lose or Draw: Checking the numbers on the Prem’s opening weekend

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Marouane Fellaini celebrates his game-winning goal against Manchester United. Photo courtesy of football365.com

Marouane Fellaini celebrates his game-winning goal against Manchester United. Photo courtesy of football365.com

Fans across the globe welcomed back the spectacle of the English Premiere League this weekend, but some were more pleased with their team’s showing than others.

Manchester City: Win

Roberto Mancini surely wasn’t expecting a stern test from newly promoted Southampton, but he got one nonetheless. Carlos Tevez started things off according to plan, putting City up in the 40th minute, but it was the visitors’ response that shocked the home fans. Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis converted two chances in the 59th and 68th minutes to take an unlikely lead.

City didn’t take long to answer, with Edin Dzeko equalizing just four minutes later before Samir Nasri snatched the

winner in the 80th minute.

In truth, City dominated the game in almost every way. They held 64% of the ball, hogged corner kicks and took 23 shots over the course of the match, more than double the 10 opportunities Southampton created. The visitors, on the other hand, were efficient with their chances, converting the only two shots on goal that they created. The blue side of Manchester will be happy to have bagged three points on opening day, while Southampton can be proud of landing in the Premiere League with a splash.

Manchester United: Lose

The red side

of Manchester will be decidedly grumpier, with Manchester United failing to take any points from their trip to Everton. The thrillingly open match lent itself to spells of ascendancy for both sides, but United found themselves well and truly bested for most of the game.

Everton’s afro with a nose for goal stepped up against the Manchester side, as Marouane Fellaini once again proved a menace to United’s defenders. The Belgian notched a goal and an assist in the last meeting between the two teams, but needed just the one goal this time to take all three points for the home side.

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Despite being on the losing side of possession and corner kicks, Everton was far the better side when it came to chance creation. They took 18 shots to United’s 14, and put 7 of them on target while their opponents put only 4 on goal. The Red Devils were lucky that Everton didn’t take more of their chances, Fellaini especially, or they might have been facing more than just a one-goal loss.

Arsenal: Draw

With the high profile departure of England’s top scorer, Robin van Persie, from the club, a goalless draw to open Arsenal’s new season practically wrote its own headlines. No sooner had Olivier Giroud spurned his golden opportunity in the 82nd minute than journalists across the globe began talking about a toothless Arsenal attack.

The numbers seem to tell a slightly different story, though. Not the 70% of possession the Gunners took or the 7 corners to Sunderland’s 0, but the 23 shots taken throughout the match. That’s just as many opportunities as Manchester City’s offense created in its much-lauded comeback against Southampton, this in the face of a Sunderland side whose complete lack of attacking ambition was illustrated by its measly 4 shots for the whole game.

Where the attack broke down was the finishing touch. Arsenal only put 3 of their 23 shots on target, a fact lazily chalked up to the absence of van Persie. Sunderland deserves credit for playing tight

defensively and closing down space in a way that made it difficult for Arsenal to get the ball to their central striker. It’s also worth noting that, even with the Dutchman on the field, Manchester United only managed one more shot on target than Arsenal against a much more proactive opponent.

There’s no doubt that this new Arsenal side will need to find a way to break down tough defenses if they want to taste success this season, but time for new signings to settle in and full fitness to take hold should help them find their scoring boots.

What did you notice from the opening round of games? Tell us in the comments.

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  • Ben

    One thing I noticed from the first day of the EPL is the rise of young Belgian players. While In only two games, Eden Hazard has already provoked two penalties and made four assists, Marouane Fellaini surpassed Man. United’s defense in most of the actions he was involved in. Bottom line: Belgium will win the 2012 world cup in Brazil. This coming from an unbiased commentator!      

    • Ben

      I meant 2016 world cup. 

  • Drew

    Or perhaps the 2014 World Cup?   That’s a brave call.  Definitely plenty of talent on the Belgian side: Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen in the back, Hazard and Fellaini in the midfield.  Not so sure about their striking options, though.  And either way, they’ll still have to qualify out of Europe…