Joe Hart

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Season strugglers: Inominious PL performances

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Tuesday found us breaking ties on our “Most Impactful Premier League Summer Buys” rankings by digging through some advanced statistics sites.

In doing so, something struck us: We rarely if ever check out which players are faring the worst when it comes to those next level numbers.

Ah, the international break: Good for off-the-wall posts.

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At the risk of kicking a player while he’s down, here are some negative numbers that stand out from the pack.

Of the 358 players who’ve played at least 10 Premier League matches, Joe Hart is having the worst season of the bunch according to Squawka. That’s a bit misleading due to how the site’s metrics operate, considering eight of the bottom 20 players are goalkeepers (and several, like Jonas Lossl and Jordan Pickford, are having outstanding campaigns).

So the unfortunate honor goes to Swansea defender Martin Olsson, who edges James McClean of West Brom for the infamy. Since the site does heap numbers on players by action accumulated, perhaps it’s better to single out the per-game and per-90 strugglers. Olsson and McClean are still very much near the bottom, but surprisingly Yannick Bolasie is the worst per game, and Swansea’s Wayne Routledge is having the least effective season per 90 minutes.

As for WhoScored, its metrics are hammering forwards, with Lys Mousset, Andre Gray, and Benik Afobe at the back of the back (ahead of McClean, again, who is a multi-site struggler).

These stats aren’t perfect, of course, and I like the idea of having McClean on my squad. But there are some other odds stats in the pack.

 These players might want to pass their next opportunity to the keeper. Of players with 10 or more shot attempts this season, Adam Lallana (11), Renato Sanches (12), Lewis Cook (14), and Dale Stephens (15) have failed to put a single shot on target.

— Of the 81 players who’ve tried their luck 30 times or more, these are the worst accuracy rates

— For perspective, Harry Kane has put 56 percent of his league-leading 162 shots on target, while second place man Mohamed Salah is 61 percent of 118.

— Defensive errors also can be increased significantly by the times a player is put under pressure by his team, which is why goalkeepers are high on Squawka’s list. Take them out, and you get a list with Spurs’ Eric Dier up top. Two of his six errors have led to goals against Tottenham, with Zanka (Huddersfield Town), Alfie Mawson (Swans), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), and Shane Duffy (Brighton) next with four errors.

Four uncapped players named in Southgate’s England squad

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Gareth Southgate has decided to take a look at some up and coming names in his final training camp with friendlies before the 2018 World Cup.

Burnley pair James Tarkowski and Nick Pope, Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson and Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook were all named on Thursday to Gareth Southgate’s 27-man squad set to meet up at St. George’s Park next week. England visits the Amsterdam Arena to face the Netherlands on March 23 before returning home to Wembley Stadium to take on Italy on March 27. Perhaps coincidentally, though both historical powers, neither the Netherlands or Italy will be at the 2018 World Cup, making these interesting games from a preparation approach.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There have been plenty of calls for Southgate to give the likes of Mawson, Pope and Tarkowski a look, while Lewis Cook has excelled with Bournemouth this season and looks to make the jump after appearing numerous times for the Three Lions at youth level.

There are plenty of veterans in this squad as well. West Ham’s Joe Hart, coming off a rough performance at club level, earned a call-up, and the likes of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere have more than 30 caps each to their name.

Coming off a two-goal performance in the Premier League for Manchester United, Marcus Rashford makes the squad as a forward along with Danny Welbeck and Jamie Vardy.

Notable absences include the injured Harry Kane, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Jermain Defoe, as Southgate looks to test his fringe players on who will make the plane to Russia.

West Ham 0-3 Burnley: Ugly scenes as Hammers lose again

  • Fan violence, protests breaks out in second half among home supporters
  • Burnley’s first league win at West Ham since 1973
  • David Moyes has never beaten Sean Dyche in five meetings

West Ham United lost 3-0 at home to Burnley on Saturday as the Hammers’ awful season took another dramatic nosedive with their third-straight defeat.

After widespread fan protests were called off before the game, things were okay up until Burnley scored twice around the hour mark. Ashley Barnes scored the first and Chris Wood, who jumped off the bench to set up Barnes’ goal, scored two more to send the London Stadium into meltdown.

Fans ran on the pitch and supporters protested against co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan, as they left the directors box for a safer setting.

With the win Burnley remain in seventh and are just two points behind Arsenal who occupy sixth.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The atmosphere was rather subdued in the first half as West Ham had more of the ball and the better chances but couldn’t break through against a stubborn Burnley outfit.

Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini went close but were off target.

Late in the first half West Ham piled on the pressure but Nick Pope dealt with several corners comfortably as it ended goalless in the first 45 minutes.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half it all went very wrong, very quickly for the Hammers, in more ways than one.

Chris Wood jumped off the bench with 30 minutes and had a big impact as he teed up Barnes who smashed home the opener to put Burnley 1-0 up. That opening goal sparked violent scenes among the home fans as two supporters ran onto the pitch and Mark Noble get involved to try and stop them.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Moments later it was 2-0 to Burnley as Johann Berg Gudmondsson poked the ball across the area for Aaron Lennon to cross and Wood was there to tap home. A goal and an assist from Wood in a matter of a few minutes as West Ham’s fans continued their protests.

Nasty scenes played out late on at the London Stadium as the supporters vented their anger towards the board and owners, and things got worse as Wood scored another to make it 3-0 following a howler from Joe Hart.

With the defeat the Hammers are just three points above the drop zone and Moyes has yet another disastrous situation to manage.

Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins

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LONDON — Trophies were expected to come by the bucket load when Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City in the summer of 2016.

It has taken deep into his second season to deliver his first piece of silverware, but Guardiola secured the League Cup trophy in resounding fashion as Man City hammered Arsenal 3-0 in the final at Wembley.

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Speaking after the game, Guardiola admitted the League Cup isn’t at the top of City’s list of priorities as they set their sights on winning the Premier League and UEFA Champions League in the final months of the season.

“It’s important. There are titles more important than this one, but we are so happy. Congratulations to everyone,” Guardiola said. “Big congratulations for all of Manchester City. From Sheikh Mansour to Sheikh Khaldoon until the last person and fan in the club. That is why it is important to win titles because maybe it is going to help us to win the next games in the Premier League to win the league.”

[ MORE: Kompany reacts to League Cup heroics

The Spaniard also played down the importance of his first trophy in England, as much has been made about his expensive rebuild of a City squad already brimming with talent after trophy successes under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini.

Guardiola thanked Man City’s owners from Abu Dhabi for sticking by him after a trophyless maiden campaign in England.

“I’m so happy but I am part of Manchester City. Every title we won, we won as a staff in the past. You are part of the group. That is why I am so happy for Manchester City because I cannot forgot how they take care of me last season when it wasn’t so good in terms of results and winning titles,” Guardiola said. “I cannot forgot. I will always remember all the club, Sheikh Khaldoon and all the people who helped to support me. It was so important. That is why Manchester City won.”

Another reason why they won was because City’s veteran core stepped up big time.

After a testing week which saw them lose in the FA Cup at third-tier Wigan, the hopes of an unprecedented quadruple were dashed. They’ll just have to settle for a treble now.

Captain Vincent Kompany was named Man of the Match, scored the crucial second goal and shackled Arsenal’s danger man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Sergio Aguero and David Silva both scored and helped City grab the trophy.

“These three guys plus Yaya [Toure], Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta a lot of names, they helped to be what Manchester City is right now,” Guardiola said. “It is special. Sergio, Vincent and David scored the three goals and they help us to understand what it means in the club. They won titles. They put pressure on us to continue to win titles. If you are able to win more titles in the future, the people who are coming here have to know here have to win titles. That’s why it is so so important. Especially for the performance. The first half was not good but the second half Vincent was all over the game, Sergio started amazingly, despite the brilliant goal the way he played, and in the second half David came back to how he normally is.”

Kevin De Bruyne, the star of City’s season so far, has now switched the focus to sealing the PL title as quickly as possible and focusing on delivering the Champions League.

“We have had a good season already, and now we need to keep going,” De Bruyne said. “We have this one in the bag and now we have to maintain the same focus in the Premier League and the Champions League. The potential for this club is amazing, and the way we play is probably one of the best in the world.”

Guardiola is now off and running in terms of trophies and you get the sense this is just the start.

FA Cup Roundup: Forest stuns Arsenal, Spurs roll, West Ham held

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League One side Shrewsbury Town impressed against West Ham, Spurs rode Harry Kane to victory, and a weak Arsenal lineup slumped to an embarrassing defeat on the road as the FA Cup third round continued on Sunday.

In the early game, West Ham had almost nothing going forward against the League One opposition, with Shrewsbury out-possessing the Hammers 56%-44% at home and they out-shot their Premier League opponents 9-4. Joe Hart was forced to make a pair of saves within a minute near the end of the first half while wearing a baseball cap to keep the game scoreless in what proved to be the best two chances of the game.

City Ground was the site of the day’s biggest upset as Nottingham Forest downed Arsenal 4-2 thanks to a pair of goals from American international Eric Lichaj. He struck first 20 minutes in when the defender snuck behind the entire defensive pack on a lateral set-piece and headed home right on the doorstep to put Notthingham Forest 1-0 up.

[ VIDEO: USMNT defender Eric Lichaj scores brilliant volley against Arsenal ]

The Gunners responded almost immediately as Per Mertesacker capitalized on the scramble after a Theo Walcott free-kick hit the post via the head of Rob Holding, but it would’t hold. Lichaj struck again just before halftime in absolutely stunning fashion with a wonderful volley into the top corner for a 2-1 lead. Forest would add some insurance past the hour mark as Rob Holding fouled Matthew Cash in the penalty area and dangerous 18-year-old Ben Brereton deservedly converted from the spot, sending David Ospina the wrong way.

Arsenal held 70% possession throughout the match, but the weak side that included Mathieu Debuchy, Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson, and Theo Walcott managed just two shots on target until the 79th minute when Danny Welbeck pulled out a consolation, but again it didn’t last as Mathieu Debuchy fouled Armand Traore in the area and Kieran Dowell roofed it despite slipping. On the other end, Forest looked the side with more cutting edge as Brereton and his supporting cast looked far more dangerous against Holding and Mertesacker. They were reduced to 10 men with a minute left in regulation after Joe Worrall was given a second yellow for a bad foul, but they held on strong.

And finally, it took Tottenham an hour to break through, but Spurs eased by AFC Wimbledon 3-0 on a quickfire double from – who else – Harry Kane. The England star scored in the 63rd minute and again in the 65th minute to put Spurs well in front. Defender Jan Vertonghen put the game away six minutes later to put Spurs three-up. Kane started next to new signing Fernando Llorente, but the Spaniard struggled to have an effect on the game.