Premier League by the numbers: Looking at the season’s statistical leaders

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A quick look at some of the leader boards at the end of the 2013-14 Premier League season:

Goals scored, team

  • 102 – Manchester City
  • 101 – Liverpool
  • 71 – Chelsea

Two of the top scoring teams in Premier League history not only challenged the record of Carlo Ancellotti’s 2009-10 Chelsea team (103), they lapped the rest of the league. You’d have to take away all of Luis Suarez’s goals to reduce Liverpool to Chelsea’s level.

Goals scored, individual

  • 31 – Luis Suarez
  • 21 – Daniel Sturridge
  • 20 – Yaya Toure

Together, Suarez and Sturridge outscored 11 Premier League teams, but Yaya Toure’s contribution may have been as impressive. The Ivorian midfielder tallied more goals than Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, and Demba Ba combined (19).

Goals from English players

  • 48 – Liverpool
  • 38 – Southampton
  • 34 – Manchester United

Not that it matters.

Assists, individual

  • 13 – Steven Gerrard
  • 12 – Luis Suarez
  • 9 – two players

Two assists on the final day helped Gerrard claim this honor from Suarez, but the Uruguayan’s standing is a reminder of his year’s dominance.

Shots on target, individual

  • 81 – Luis Suarez
  • 45 – Romelu Lukaku
  • 43 – Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney

You knew Suarez would be on top, and as you’d suspect with a large gap on top of the goal scoring charts, the margin here is large, too. Daniel Sturridge had 42.

Passes completed, team

  • 18,532 – Arsenal
  • 17,993 – Swansea City
  • 17.863 – Manchester City

Or about 488 per game, for Arsenal.

Passes completed, player

  • 2,255 – Yaya Toure
  • 1982 – Mikel Arteta
  • 1,908 – Steve Gerrard

Like Suarez with shots, what’s remarkable here is the gap. Toure averaged 69 completed passes per 90 minute(though Arteta averaged 74).

Headed goals, team

  • 14 – Liverpool
  • 12 – Arsenal
  • 10 – five teams

One out of every 5.7 Arsenal goals came off somebody’s head, with Olivier Giroud’s four second only to Wilfried Bony (five) for the league’s lead.

Hit the woodwork, individual

  • 9 – Luis Suarez
  • 5 – three players

Hitting the woodwork isn’t bad luck, as is often implied, but it’s worth noting how close Luis Suarez was to an even more staggering goal total.

Penalty goals, individual

  • 10 – Steven Gerrard
  • 6 – Yaya Toure
  • 4 – three players

“Stevie G” scored 13 total goals this season, but imagine if Suarez took the spot kicks instead. He would have approached 40 goals while Gerrard’s place in our teams of the season may have gotten a second thought.

Tackles, indiviual

  • 133 – Mile Jedinak
  • 121 – Steve Sidwell
  • 120 – Pabl0 Zabaleta

You expect central midfielders to be on this list, but Pablo Zabaleta is a right back. Farther down the list, Erik Pieters, Joel Ward, and Geoff Cameron also claim spots in the top 10.

Saves, individual

  • 149 – David Marshall
  • 130 – Vito Mannone
  • 124 – John Ruddy

Vito Mannone is sandwiched between two relegated keepers despite playing only 29 games.

Fouls won, team

  • 454 – Sunderland
  • 450 – Chelsea
  • 448 – Manchester United

The Black Cats were fouled 44 more times than Liverpool, though Fabio Borini, the teams leader in fouls won, was only 10th in the league. Why were opponents so willing to draw whistles against Sunderland?

Fouls won, individual

  • 89 – Eden Hazard
  • 79 – Robert Snodgrass
  • 76 – Adam Lallana

Surprisingly, Luis Suarez is only fourth, 22 fouls behind Hazard. Then again: forward versus attacking midfield.

Fouls conceded, team

  • 491 – Aston Villa
  • 486 – Stoke City
  • 448 – Sunderland

For Stoke, this may be the legacy of Tony Pulis, with Mark Hughes having inherited the former manager’s combative squad. For Aston Villa, Paul Lambert’s team spent most of its season without the ball (18th in possession, 43.8 pct.).

Fouls conceded, individual

  • 66 -Cheick Tiote
  • 62 – Steve Sidwell
  • 60 – Mile Jedinak

Whereas Jedinak and Sidwell were also among the league’s most prolific tacklers, Tiote finished 10th on that list (107).

Times subbed off, individual

  • 19 – Leon Osman
  • 19 – Adam Lallana
  • 19 – Marouane Chamakh

It’s surprising to see Lallana’s name here, but it also makes sense that three teams with consistent (game-to-game) plans had regular substitution patterns.

Offsides, individual

  • 33 – Luis Suarez
  • 32 – Loic Remy
  • 30 – Christian Benteke

And Benteke only played 26 games. For Suarez, this is likely a function of his team’s prolific attack.

Yellow cards, team

  • 78 – Aston Villa
  • 72 – Stoke City
  • 72 – Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s team wasn’t even in the top 10 in fouls. When the Citizens went in, they made it count.

Yellow cards, individual

  • 11 – Pablo Zabaleta
  • 10 – three players

Lee Cattermole is jealous. The Sunderland’s human IED didn’t even make the top 10.

Red cards, team

  • 7 – Sunderland
  • 6 – Newcastle United
  • 5 – two teams

Black Cats defender Wes Brown led the league with three dismissals. Only five other players drew multiple red cards.

Clean sheets, individual

  • 16 – Wojciech Szczesney
  • 16 – Petr Cech
  • 15 – Tim Howard

Chelsea also led the league as a team with 18 shutouts.

Players used

  • 39 – Fulham
  • 32 – Cardiff City
  • 31 – Sunderland
  • 31 – Crystal Palace

All four changed managers (at least once) mid-season.

All stats courtesy of Opta.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.