Well, we’re halfway through the Premier League season, and what a season it is turning out to be!
We’ve dug deep into individual player stats to celebrate the stars who are shining, and see who is struggling. So which players can expect something special from Santa this Christmas – and which are more likely to end up with coal in their stockings?
Let’s get started!
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Some players have enjoyed an incredible start to the season.
Jamie Vardy’s 17 goals has him leading the golden boot race, a full six more than Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) and Danny Ings (Southampton) in equal second.
Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) has been on another level, and his 10 assists puts him top of the pops in that category, beating Son Heung-min (Spurs) with seven and David Silva (Man City) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) on six apiece.
But spare a thought for Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, who has slammed the woodwork more than any other player, five times already this campaign.
He’s also missed nine ‘big chances’ – almost as many as the number of PL goals he’s banged home this season (ten).
If you thought that was bad, how about Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick? He has fluffed a remarkable 15 big chances this campaign. He’s taken 34 shots this season for zero goals.
Only Ross Barkley (Chelsea) equals that number of shots without a goal this campaign. We reckon both of them should be asking Santa for a new pair of shooting boots.
At least McGoldrick fluffing his lines hasn’t harmed the Blades’ campaign – they’re sitting in fifth on Christmas, the highest any promoted side has been on this day in 19 years.
But things could have been even better for Sheffield had VAR not been around this campaign! No team has had more goals ruled out by VAR interventions.
Four times this season Sheffield have had the referee blow the whistle for a goal only for VAR to call it back. Must be hard to be a Blades fan sometimes – but looking at their league position, there’s plenty to smile about this festive season.
McGoldrick isn’t having his finest season in front of goal, and neither is Jesse Lingard. It’s now been 364 days since the Manchester United man was involved in a Premier League goal – an assist against Huddersfield on Boxing Day of 2018. That’s over 25 hours on the pitch without contributing directly. United play Newcastle on Boxing Day (local time, 4.30am AEDT on the 27th). We bet Lingard wants to repeat last year’s effort!
Speaking of Manchester United, is David de Gea in your Premier League team of the decade? Four Manchester United player of the year awards in five years, five PFA Team of the Year inclusions, over 100 clean sheets in the Premier League. He’s certainly worthy of consideration in the Premier League’s best XI of the 2010s.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Spanish gloveman in the last couple of seasons. Just seven clean sheets in 38 EPL appearances last campaign (his worst record at United). And that’s not just down to United’s shoddy defence. Since the beginning of last season, de Gea has been the king of the howlers. Six times his errors have directly caused a goal – more than any other PL player in that time.
As far as keepers go, Aussie Mat Ryan can be well pleased with his efforts between the sticks. He’s made 67 saves this year, good enough for third in that category. Arsenal’s Bernd Leno is top with 73 saves, while Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka is second with 68 saves.
Our New Zealand neighbours can be very proud of the efforts of Kiwi striker Chris Wood, who has potted seven goals for Burnley this season. But he’s also been caught off-side a whopping 22 times – more than anyone else this campaign. Like a drunk uncle on Christmas Day, he’s well out of line!
Wood is also one of the unfortunate few who have scored an own goal this season. Actually, not so few – SIXTEEN different players have placed the ball into their own net.
And what about the dirtiest players? Well, Son Heung-min is the only man to have more than one red card this campaign, receiving his second send-off against Chelsea.
But Aston Villa’s Brazilian Wesley tops the books for the most fouls conceded. He’s given away a massive 37 fouls – as a centre-forward. Positively naughty!
Now, time for a stranger statistic.
Which player is most likely to leave your party early? We’re guessing Tammy Abraham from Chelsea or Leicester’s Ayoze Perez. Both have been substituted off the field 13 times this season, more than any other players.
Speaking of substitutes, what is it about Everton and substitutes?
Only three times this PL season has a substitute come onto the field only to then be substituted off. All three times it was an Everton player.
Cenk Tosun in last weekend’s dull 0-0 draw against Arsenal, Moise Kean against Manchester United the week earlier, and Alex Iwobi against Manchester City in September. Bizarre!