Barrie's View

10 Interesting Stats from Champions League Matchday 3

October 23, 2014 by Barrie

1 – Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal at Anfield in his sixth appearance.  The Real Madrid forward now has an astonishing 20 goals in 13 competitive appearances this season.

3 – Liverpool were beaten by three goals in a Champions League match at Anfield for the first time. In the process, Real Madrid became the third side to score three goals at Anfield in this competition, after Barcelona and Chelsea.

4 – The last four penalties Petr Čech has faced (excluding shootouts) have failed to find the back of the net.

5 – Shakhtar Donetsk’s Luiz Adriano became only the second player in the history of the tournament to score five goals in a single game.  The Ukrainian side thrashed BATE Borisov 7-0 on Tuesday with all seven goals coming from Brazilians.  Lionel Messi’s the only other play to achieve this feat – Bayer 04 Leverkusen were the victims.

9% – English sides have won only one of their last 11 meetings versus Spanish opponents in the Champions League.  This was Manchester United’s 1-0 win against Real Sociedad under David Moyes last season.

10 – Manchester City have gone 10 games without a clean sheet in Europe’s elite club cup competition.

19 – Mario Mandžukić took his goal tally up to 19 in 23 Champions League appearances with one of Atlético Madrid’s five in their 5-0 thrashing of Swedish side Malmö.

40 – Only 1 October 1997 saw more goals (44) than Tuesday’s 40 in the history of the Champions League.

70 – Cristiano Ronaldo is now one goal behind the all-time Champions League top goalscorer Raúl.

85 – Iker Casillas record his 85th victory in the Champions League with a 3-0 win at Liverpool on Wednesday.  The Real Madrid and Spain legend has now won more games than any other player in the competition.

10 Interesting Stats from Premier League Matchday 8

October 21, 2014 by Barrie

1 – Arsenal have kept just one clean sheet in their eight Premier League matches this season.  The Gunners kept 17 clean sheets last season.

4 – Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur saw four penalties award for only the second time in Premier League history.  The only previous occasion in which so many have been awarded in a single game was in the Bradford City 4-4 Derby County fixture on 21 April 2000.

7 – Sunderland conceded seven goals in their first seven games and eight goals in their 8th game this season.

8 – Cesc Fàbregas has been involved in eight goals in eight Premier League games for Chelsea (1 goal, 7 assists).

9 – Sergio Agüero has scored nine goals in six Premier League matches against Tottenham Hotspur.  The Argentine netted all four for Manchester City in their 4-1 thrashing of Spurs on Saturday.

10 – Chelsea have had 10 different goalscorers in their first eight games this season.

12 – Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea saw both players reduced to 10 men before half-time for only the 12th time in Premier League history

61 – Sergio Agüero’s four goals at the weekend make him Manchester City’s all-time Premier League top scorer with 61 goals.

634 – The distance from Sunderland to Southampton and back is 634 miles.  That’s the round journey for fans in the city who went down to St Mary’s to watch their side get hammered 8-0.

700 – West Ham became the ninth club to reach the 700 matches milestone on Saturday when they beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor.

England have qualified for Euro 2016

October 10, 2014 by Barrie

Wembley Stadium

Without wanting to sound too arrogant but England’s qualification was more-than wrapped up after Thursday evening’s results.

Victory over San Marino was of course never in doubt.  Switzerland’s loss in Slovenia last night really means there is no way England will not finish in the top two of this group.  Although, frankly, even after the shambolic performance at the World Cup this summer, I always expected a breeze through qualification.

England now have a six-point lead over Switzerland after two games and a three-point lead over Slovenia who lost their opening game in Estonia.

Roy Hodgson targeted 13 goals against San Marino and Estonia combined this week.  That was perhaps on his mind when clips of him in his seat during last night’s 5-0 win over San Marino were more of frustration that enjoyment.

Not that anyone could enjoy such a boring game of football.  As someone who regularly watches more than 300 football matches a season, I like to think of myself as a passionate football fan.  I enjoy 99% of the matches I watch, often even if my team doesn’t win (it’s rare that Derby lose to our biggest rivals).

Last night’s game was dull from minute one.  The result was never in doubt, it was just a case of how many England were going to score and if Joe Hart was going to touch the ball.  Qualification in truth has rarely hit the highs.  England have made it dramatic in drawing in Italy, scoring a last minute goal against Greece, thrashing Germany 5-1 in Munich and the disaster of Euro 2008.  Other than that – have there been any memorable moments over the past 20 years?

International football for me has taken the backstage to the Premier League and UEFA Champions League in order of priorities.  The qualification process is often a long, drawn out bore and not just for England.  Spain, Germany and the Netherlands often breeze their groups too.  Now that Euro 2016 has been downgraded (yes, downgraded) to a 24-team tournament, two teams make it through each qualifying group automatically (therefore Spain’s loss last night is no big deal.  Portugal losing their two away games this week would be).

Euro 2016 itself sees 24 teams in the group stage and 16 teams in the kn0ck-out rounds.  This simply means the stronger nations can rest their key players for the latter stages and rotate to avoid suspensions.  The chance of ‘another Greece 2004′ just got harder.

England, a country that once embraced international football, has started to find more exciting things to do.  Attendance for the last two international games have been Wembley are significantly down on qualification for the 2014 World Cup.  English fans used to embarrass all other European countries with their incredible crowds (France were in the vicinity, I guess we shouldn’t be too harsh on them) and now international football is becoming a bore to them too.

Enjoy watching England beat Estonia on Sunday, and we should go on and win the majority, if not all of the remaining qualification matches, even with Roy Hodgson in charge! With odds of 1/4 for England to win on Sunday, it may be worth looking out for enhanced odds offers on the likes of bet365 mobile which can make things a little more interesting!

At least the Premier League returns next weekend, quickly followed by the Champions League – those, most of us can agree on, are the most important competitions in football.

10 Interesting Stats from Premier League Matchday 7

October 5, 2014 by Barrie

1 – David de Gea became the first player to deny Leighton Baines from the penalty spot in the Premier League. The England international had previously scored all 14 of his spot kicks.

4 – Nikica Jelavić has scored as many Premier League goals already this season as he did throughout the whole of last season.

5 – Saido Berahino has also matched his goal tally from last season when he was West Brom’s joint-top scorer in 2013-14.

7 – Manchester United have conceded seven penalties in the Premier League in 2014. They did not give away a single spot kick in the year 2013.

10 – Only Chelsea (11) have scored more goals at home than Leicester City (10) soo far this season.

12 – José Mourinho extended his undefeated record versus Arsène Wenger to 12 games in all competitions. The Chelsea manager has won seven and drawn five of those meetings against the Arsenal boss.

16 – Newcastle have conceded 16 goals in their last eight Premier League games.

30 – Manchester United have already used 30 players in only seven Premier League games this season. The Red Devils used a total of 30 players throughout the entire 2013-14 season.

86 – Following their 2-1 win on Sunday, Manchester United have now scored 86 goals versus Everton in the Premier League. This is the most by any one team against a single opponent.

565 – Michael Kightly’s goal ended Burnley’s run of 565 minutes without a league goal, the 10th longest in Premier League history.

10 reasons why Chelsea WILL beat Arsenal

October 4, 2014 by Barrie

Jose Mourinho

Chelsea head into matchday 7 with a six point lead over fourth-place Arsenal and can make a real statement with a victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Being held 1-1 at Manchester City a fortnight ago is the one time José Mourinho’s have dropped points in their opening six Premier League games this season. They have won each of the other five games by at least two goals.

Meanwhile Arsenal have won only two of their Premier League matches to start 2014-15, although are unbeaten by drawing the other four. Arsène Wenger’s side have kept just one clean sheet in those six matches.

Here are 10 reasons why we think Chelsea are sure to beat Arsenal tomorrow:

1. Chelsea’s attack

Chelsea have scored an astonishing 19 goals in their first six Premier League games this season. That’s just over three goals per game. Nine different players have got on the scoresheet for Chelsea already this season.

Manchester City are the only side to hold the Blues down to as few as one goal in a game this season to give you an idea what Arsenal are coming up against this weekend.

2. Arsenal’s defence

They may have only conceded seven goals in their opening six matches – that’s the same number as Chelsea, but Arsenal have not looked so impressive in the process. Everton and Tottenham both spurned good chances to increase that number.

If Arsenal’s defending against Tottenham last weekend is anything to go by then Chelsea are going to be in for a field day on Sunday with all the gaps left at the back. The Gunners were thankful for the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Nacer Chadli being wasteful with the ball. Not sure if the same will be said of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fàbregas and co…

3. Chelsea’s counter attack

A lot of those Tottenham chances last weekend came on the counter attack. Arsenal carelessly bombed forward, even at 0-0 at home last weekend, leaving an incredible amount of space for Spurs to exploit. It’s not only Tottenham – this has been a constant in Arsène Wenger’s side over the years and they don’t appear to learn from their mistakes.

Mikel Arteta is absent and Mathieu Flamini is a liability protecting his back four to say the least. Play Jack Wilshere alongside him may counter some of the threat but don’t expect that to fix every gap that Arsenal leave vulnerable.

4. Arsenal’s injury list

One noticeable disadvantage Arsenal have coming into the match is their injury list. A number of first-team players are on it – Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal leave only four fit defenders available. Holding midfield and captain Mikel Arteta is also sidelined, as is attacking midfielder and goalscorer Aaron Ramsey. Pacey forward Theo Walcott has not returned and striker Olivier Giroud is out for a while longer.

Chelsea on the other hand only have Ramires and Didier Drogba absent. The Brazilian may have started twice this season but we wouldn’t class him as a player expecting to be a regular this season. Drogba is the third choice striker at Stamford Bridge these days.

5. Mathieu Flamini

Mathieu Flamini was at fault for Tottenham’s opening goal last weekend when carelessly conceding possession just outside his own penalty area. It’s not the first goal you can pin on him this season either. He’s been exposed on more than one occasion and doesn’t look good at all protecting the back four. He takes chances in his tackles too and often picks up a yellow card.

Chelsea’s playmakers which are lined up all over the pitch should certainly fancy their chances up against Flamini. A lot of the build-up will likely be focussed around Cesc Fàbregas and this has the making of an excellent game for the former-Gunners captain.

6. Arsène Wenger tactically stubborn

Arsène Wenger has been criticised over the years for being tactically stubborn and the French manager doesn’t appear to have made too many changes to stop those claims. The defence constantly leaves holes as we’ve already touched upon. Record signing Mesut Özil’s been played out of position a lot this season.

Opposite to Wenger, José Mourinho is a tactical genius. You can be sure that the Portuguese manager will take advantage of the gaps Wenger’s side leaves. He’ll prey on those weak points in Wenger’s side, so don’t be surprised if Chelsea look to make the likes of Flamini and Per Mertesacker look silly.

7. Mourinho-Wenger head-to-head

Point seven follows on nicely from point six. These two managers have only met when in charge of these two clubs and José Mourinho’s leads the series W6 D5 L0. That’s right, Arsène Wenger has yet to beat the Chelsea manager in 11 previous matches. This does include the League Cup and Community Shield – it’s W3 D5 in Premier League matches only.

There’s nothing to suggest Wenger can improve on last season’s record where they picked up just one point in two games and failed to score. Chelsea made the better summer signings, Chelsea have made the better start, and Chelsea have the injury-free squad.

8. Chelsea’s home form

Chelsea have taken maximum points from their three home games this season, scored nine goals and kept two clean sheets. In fact, dating back to last season the Blues have kept nine clean sheets in their last 11 home Premier League matches.

Arsenal’s away record has not been so impressive. Held 2-2 at an Everton side who tired out in the final 10 minutes to lose their 2-0 lead, and held 1-1 at newly-promoted Leicester City before beating Aston Villa 3-0 on the road. They were comprehensively beat 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League this season too.

9. Arsenal’s form

Whilst Chelsea have dropped just two points from their opening six games, with those coming away from home at the defending champions, Arsenal have only won two of their six games. One of these was a stoppage time winner at home to managerless Crystal Palace.

It must be said, Arsenal’s form isn’t as impressive as their league position – four score draws and eight points dropped already. Three points separate 3rd-12th in the Premier League. There’s also the same margin between leaders Chelsea and second-place Southampton.

10. Diego Costa

Chelsea’s £32 million summer signing from Atlético Madrid is receiving all of the accolades to start the new season. And rightfully so. An impressive eight goals in only six Premier League matches, with the manager even claiming he’s not fully fit yet. Only Manchester City have prevented Diego Costa from scoring so far this season.

With the playmakers around him to create chances, you can expect Diego Costa to get on the scoresheet in this one. Per Mertesacker goes missing in the box and the energetic Spaniard will sneak in that six-yard box to poke one home. Or two. Or three. On paper, it doesn’t look good for Arsenal.

 Anyone think Arsenal have a chance at Stamford Bridge on Sunday? I can’t see anything but a home win. And that’s why I’m backing Chelsea to beat Arsenal at 1.68 with Betfair. In my mind that’s 68% interest and when I am ever wrong when I give an ‘interest’ tip?

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