Mourinho's gambit, Southampton's set-piece specialist and the return of Fergie time – the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Daniel Lewis 1 December 2020 45
Mourinho's gambit, Southampton's set-piece specialist and the return of Fergie time – the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

It was another Premier League weekend dominated by VAR disputes, fixture scheduling complaints and a timely discussion on concussion protocols.

Liverpool dropped two points away to Brighton and Hove Albion after video technology intervened in a match that saw another of their players, James Milner, sustain an injury.

Tottenham capitalised on that result by reclaiming top spot with a goalless draw at Chelsea that very much falls into the 'tactical game of chess' category.

The result of the weekend belonged to Wolves as they earned a first win at Arsenal since 1979, though Raul Jimenez's sickening clash of heads with David Luiz – later confirmed as resulting in a fractured skull for the striker – overshadowed that 2-1 scoreline.

Away from the major topics of discussion to emerge over the past few days, we use Opta stats to pinpoint some of the quirkier talking points. 


The return of Fergie time?

The half-time introduction of Edinson Cavani proved an inspired change for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the prolific striker scored twice in Manchester United's 3-2 comeback win at Southampton.

Cavani's second goal at St Mary's Stadium arrived with 91 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock as United won for an eighth successive away top-flight match for the first time in their history.

Solskjaer's men have scored in the 90th minute or later in the last five of those victories, smashing the previous record of three in a row which United jointly held with Liverpool and Arsenal.

United, famed for their never-say-die spirit under legendary former boss Alex Ferguson, have now netted 25 stoppage-time winners in the Premier League – level with Tottenham but one fewer than Arsenal.

Liverpool may have been denied a victory in the final stages this weekend but they lead the way in terms of all-time 90-plus-minute winners, scoring 35 of them in total.

Blunt Blades still without a win

West Brom prevailed in the battle between the division's bottom two sides, both of whom were seeking a first victory of the Premier League campaign.

Conor Gallagher's strike means last term's surprise package United are the third side in English top-flight history to earn as meagre a tally as one point after 10 matches, and the first in Premier League history.

The Baggies also had only one point from a possible 30 in 1985-86 and, somewhat intriguingly, record 20-time English champions Manchester United were pointless at the same stage in 1930-31.

Manchester City and Sunderland are the next two worst-performing sides in Premier League history after 10 games, amassing two points each in 1995-96 and 2016-17 respectively.

Chelsea play into Tottenham's hands

Tottenham arrived at Stamford Bridge with a plan to frustrate Chelsea and that tactic clearly paid off for Jose Mourinho, who will be more than happy with a point against his former employers.

Spurs had a little under 40 per cent of the ball but as we have come to learn, that often counts for little when it comes to Mourinho-managed sides.

Indeed, they tend to do better in games where they have very little possession compared to matches in which they dominate the ball.

In seven games in which they have had 40 per cent or less possession, Spurs have won four and drawn two. That compares to three wins and two draws from the seven games when they have had 60 per cent or more possession.

Bend it like... Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse put Southampton into a two-goal lead before United's impressive fightback, scoring from yet another free-kick.

The England international has perfected the art of converting from set-pieces, even if opposition keeper David de Gea could have done more to keep out this latest effort.

Ward-Prowse also scored twice from a similar range against Aston Villa and is the first player since Wayne Rooney in September 2013 to find the net from three direct free-kicks in a single month.

About Author

Daniel Lewis

Comment