Sunday 4 December 2016

Revealed: The statistics that confirm Liverpool are leading the Premier League pack

Read Kevin Palmer's Premier League column every Monday

Published 03/10/2016 | 12:05

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates after the game
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates after the game

The final weekend of Premier League action ahead of the international break burst the bubble of optimism that had enveloped Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, while inflating the reputation of his slayer Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.

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It was just one of many compelling storylines in a weekend they left football fans wanting more, yet the slightly depressing prospect of the Republic of Ireland v Georgia and England v Malta means a two week break beckons for English football’s grand show.

Here is your Independent.ie guide to the end of the latest burst of Premier League action.

THE STATS THAT CEMENT LIVERPOOL’S STATUS

“There are plenty of Liverpool fans getting very excited about that prospect right now, but I would suggest their optimism is a little premature at this point.”

The calming words of Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge in yesterday’s Sunday World newspaper suggested the rising tide of enthusiasm around Jurgen Klopp’s side, as they stormed to another fine 2-1 win against Swansea.

As their limp first half display was backed up by a thrilling fight back following a rallying cry from Klopp at the break, the suggesting that Liverpool could be ready to end their 27-year wait for a 19th English league title gathered some moment and the statistics back up the reality that the Reds are a team to watch this season:

  • Along with Manchester City, Liverpool have scored more goals than any other Premier League side (18).
  • They have had the most shot on goal in the league (135).
  • They have made more passes than their top flight rivals (4220).
  • Captain Jordan Henderson has made more passes than any other player (588)
  • Liverpool have six point more than they had after seven games last season.

Of course, this Liverpool story is not without its flaws and the reality that they have not kept a Premier League clean sheet away from home since beating a lamentable Aston Villa side 6-0 in February confirms they still have work to do at the back, especially after conceding yet another goal from a set-piece at Swansea.

A work in progress or the finished article? Their next match against Manchester United at Anfield will give us a better idea of Liverpool’s title hopes.

 

END OF THE STING?

It appears as if the Daily Telegraph’s campaign to ‘expose the dark side of football’ has come to an end, with their high profile sting operation leaving more questions than answers.

The demise of Sam Allardyce as England manager was the lasting legacy of the investigation, as the arrogance and greed of a man who has always been hard to like ensured his exit from the England job he has craved all his life would be brutal and embarrassing.

Yet the Telegraph's subsequent ‘exclusives’ lacked any kind of impact, with the attempt to smear QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after he ‘scandalously’ talked over a deal to get paid for a speaking engagement backed up by the ‘shock’ claim from Harry Redknapp that footballers enjoy a bet.

 

There was even an ‘amazing’ suggestion from Southampton assistant manager Eric Black that lower league talents scouts may be open to being on the payroll of a company looking to recruit young footballers, when essentially that is what they do for a living anyway.

Meanwhile, Twitter has been filled with lists of names of managers who are about to be exposed by the Telegraph after their 10-month undercover operation.

Is there more to come? If there is, it needs to be more inspiring than what we have been served up since the fall of Allardyce.

 

IS GIGGS ON HIS WAY TO SWANSEA?

The early season window for managerial sackings is upon us, with Swansea’s move to axe Francesco Guidolin just seven games into the season leaving questions overt he decision to hand the Italian a two-year contract last May.

Guidolin sat back and watched as Swansea sold some of his best players last summer and made uninspiring attempts to replace them, so it is no surprise that a manager who appeared to have limited influence last summer and just 630 minutes of Premier League football later, he is benefitting from a hefty pay-off.

His replacement Bob Bradley has no experience of managing in the Premier League and while he has a huge knowledge of the game, the former USA national team boss is not certain to keep the Swans the Premier League.

Who is next for the Premier League chop? Here are the latest odds:

  • Slaven Bilic (West Ham) 5/1
  • Tony Pulis (West Bromwich Albion) 8/1
  • David Moyes (Sunderland) 8/1
  • Mark Hughes (Stoke) 12/1
  • Aitor Karanka (Middlesbrough) 16/1

 

PICTURE THIS

Every Premier League weekend throws up an image or two that is used time and again, with Roy Keane offering up a gem as he looked like he was being tickled by stand-in England boss Gareth Southgate as he watched Everton’s game against Crystal Palace on Friday night.

Keano and Southgate had a troubled start to their friendship as they infamously clashed during an FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Crystal Palace back in 1995, yet that was the one incident in Keane’s career that he later apologised for.

Now it seems as if the duo have built up quite a bond working together as ITV Sport pundits over the last few years, with Republic of Ireland Keane caught on camera smiling and laughing throughout his evening with Southgate.

It is hard to imagine these two have much in common, but they often say opposites attract.

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INDEPENDENT.IE TEAM OF THE WEEK

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

James Milner (Liverpool)

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)

Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

Stephen Ward (Burnley)

Harry Arter (Bournemouth)

Dimitri Payet (West Ham)

Joe Allen (Stoke)

Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)

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