Opta and MLS – a beautiful game they play

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In Part I we looked at how sports data company Opta functions, and their revolutionary work in global soccer. Now it’s time to look Stateside.

Major League Soccer and soccer in the United States is always looking for an edge. It has always had to.

Competing with traditional American sports for fans, players and sponsorship deals, you could never accuse MLS and it’s executives of not thinking outside the box.

And in 2011 when they realized what Opta had to offer and how it could help the league develop, they grabbed on tight and haven’t let go since.

Matt Drew, Opta’s head of Corporate Marketing, salutes MLS chiefs for becoming a leading light in soccer analytics across the globe.

“Credit to MLS, because they were quick to realize that what we had here was of value,” Drew said.  “Across their media properties, and the performance teams, they’ve been speculative enough to ask us to do bits of research on different areas to find out how to develop and improve the league in a really proactive type of way. They were very much leaders in that.”

(PART I: How Opta altered the Premier League, and soccer, forever)

The stats culture in the USA is more prevalent than in many other countries where soccer is traditionally the number one sport, which has allowed MLS to be an almost semi-experimental ground for how to use new systems and ways of measuring things.

Soccer fans in the U.S. embrace stats in ways fans in other nations wouldn’t. And the league, teams, managers and players are also doing the same.

Opta’s influence in MLS and U.S. soccer culture is growing.

A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

During my first visit to MLS Digital HQ a few years ago, I noticed a separate side of the office that was empty every day, but lined with computers screens and other expensive looking equipment.

“What the bloody hell goes on over there?” I asked one of my co-workers one Friday afternoon. “Just wait until Saturday night when the Opta guys come in, you’re in for a treat.”

And I was.

If you read Part I of this series, you’ll know all about the ‘Ops’ and their job. These ‘gamer’ types methodically collect all of Opta’s live data by watching games from across the globe. That happens in New York City, too. And as you elevate towards MLS’ office on a Saturday night, you can hear loud shouting and whistles being blown. Cries of ‘oh man, did you see that?’ and almost zombie like quotes of ‘red 23 chipped pass, blocked, by blue 14’ are heard from the Ops. They’re analyzing every single MLS game live, and having a lot of fun doing it.

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An example of how Opta’s Chalkboard is available on MLS’ official website for every single MLS game.

The fact that Opta US operates from within the same confides of MLS’ Digital arm tells its own story. The two entities are now inextricably linked, as both walk hand in hand towards progressing the world’s game on U.S. soil.

James Dennis, who is head of Opta Sports US, has been with the company since 1999.

Dennis leads Opta’s operations from NYC and hails Major League Soccer’s proactive attitude towards becoming a better league.

“Certainly the way we interact with MLS, I believe is pretty unique. Obviously MLS is a different ownership structure,” Dennis said. “The league are very open to involving us, not only at a digital level, but we are now involved on the player recruitment side, on the player relations side and the competitions department.”

And perhaps one of biggest factors MLS wants to gain from being so closely linked with Opta is how they’re performing, on the field, compared with other soccer leagues around the world.

“They are always very interested to see where they sit and compare with other global leagues,” Dennis said. “They’ve been very open minded in allowing us in and allowing us to help in that. Obviously with the Premier League and other leagues, they’re established, so it’s a different mindset. But MLS are trying to develop their product. We get a pretty unique insight into the league.”

We will find out more on that, very shortly.

ASSIST… WE HARDLY KNEW YE

If you ask any soccer fan in England over a certain age about an assist, they wouldn’t know what you’re talking about.

Now, go and ask any soccer fan in the world under the age of 25 about who’s the leading assist man in European soccer now, and they’ll probably spout out about 10 different names, with Mesut Ozil usually near the top.

The advent of recording the assist in English soccer, crazy as it seems, is just over 10 years old. I visited Opta’s offices with NBC Sports’ national columnist Joe Posnanski back in August, and my colleague was flabbergasted that assists had only just become relevant in the PL.

In part, you have Opta to thank for that.

“We’ve had them since 2001, but a couple of our guys got footage of every game and we now have assists, all-time, in the Premier League,” Matt Furniss, Opta’s Senior UK Football Editor said. “We have goal types as well, headers, set pieces, penalties. So we also have in-depth data about each goal. And we can see who has the most assists in Premier League history.”

For American sports fans, the assist is a key component of recording a player’s productivity. But in England and other soccer nations, a player was never historically categorized by the number of assists he made, he was just known as “the creative one.”

source: Reuters
Back in the day Mesut Ozil would have been classed as “that tricky chap” and his assists wouldn’t have been counted… now they’re categorized.

Rob Bateman, Opta’s Director of Content, breaks down the assist category as it’s evolved over the past few years.

“The assist is an interesting one,” Bateman said. “We used to collect it and if someone had eight assists and somebody else has two, then immediately you’d make the assumption that the former is a more creative player. But we have got a little bit subjective with this thing we call ‘big chances’ where we class that as chances where the striker should score. So you can kind of look at players who are creating much better chances.”

Big chances are becoming more widely used in soccer circles, and the players who created the most ‘big chances,’ the Mesut Ozil’s and Xavi’s of this world, are worth their weight in gold.

Opta’s stats are helping to pick out not only the most creative players, but the players who are the best at being the most creative… have a think about that.

USA’S THRIVING STATS CULTURE

For me, one of the most telling moments of my investigation into how Opta works with Major League Soccer came when speaking with Dennis about exactly how they help MLS to improve the league.

“On the recruitment side we provide statistical reports to the league and the clubs to assist in the decision making process for potential transfers,” Dennis said. “That’s something that is obviously not really done in any other league. That’s been good. The big challenge in the US is to get clubs to compete with other global leagues, while adhering to the strict financial limitations and improving the quality.”

So, Opta’s role in MLS is now so prominent that they’re advising the league on which players to buy and which markets to look to. And with MLS’ centralized model of player recruitment, a la Clint Dempsey in Seattle, Opta seems to be the main scouting resource behind many of the players heading to MLS.

That’s huge.

Asking a stats company to help with transfers is something none of Opta’s other league partners do, MLS trusts the stats, and in turn Opta want to try and help raise the level of Major League Soccer. It’s a win, win.

source: AP
Get use to seeing more South American players heading to MLS, as Opta’s office in Uruguay will help to unearth Latin American gems (see, Diego Valeri) on the cheap.

“The sport is a different sport here,” Dennis continues. “They’re constrained by the cap, massively. So, the big challenge in the US is to try and improve the sport. You could argue it’s the fourth sport, but really it’s the fifth in the minds of most American sports fans.”

And to try and help MLS thrive, Opta has looked at new markets within the global game where the league can buy cheaply from. Hence one of the reasons why an office was set up in Montevideo, Uruguay, last year.

“There’s a recruitment reason for doing it,” Dennis said. “Because leagues like the Premier League and MLS are interested in those players. So it opens up a brand new market. I think a lot of MLS teams look to that area, because the players are cheaper. That’s a market they can go and do business in, whereas if you look at Europe, they can’t shop there apart from a DP. Historically they’ve looked in Europe a bit, but there’s certainly a push in the South American leagues.”

With Latin America Opta’s next big project, you can already see the fruits of their labor benefiting MLS, recently the league released info on where each of it’s 549 players are from. The U.S. (304) and Canada (19) lead the way, but Colombia (19), Brazil (18) and Argentina (17) round out the top five. In the last 12 months Argentinians Diego Valeri, Matias Laba and Max Urruti have arrived, while 8.4 percent of MLS players are now from South America. Expect that number to grow.

To raise its’ profile amongst American sports fans, many believe MLS has to keep improving it’s product on the field, which it has clearly done over the past few years. Opta have been with them every step of the way.

“I think some of the work we do supports that,” Dennis said. “I wouldn’t say what we’re doing it on our own. But we are supporting the MLS, and they’re trying to put out a stronger product on the field. And they’re using data and analysis to try and understand that. So we’re a cog in the wheel really.”

CLASHING CULTURES

But what about the other cultural differences or convergences between soccer in the U.S. and England, how does that play out in terms of the soccer stats industry?

“MLS followers, if you’re talking in marketing speak, it’s almost more of a middle class type of game,” Drew said, tapping his finger on the table rhythmically. “Whereas over here [England], you have that layer, but there’s also years and years of working class tradition, where people aren’t interested in stats. Which is fine.”

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Opta US has been helped by American fans embracing stats in soccer. The image above represents the MLS Player Genome.

But as I sat in deep discussion with Drew and Opta’s Advanced Data Analyst, Sam Green, we began to speak about the unique and close relationship MLS now has with Opta, and how that mirrors the U.S. public’s affinity to stats in sports.

“We have a fairly close relationship with MLS at every level now” Green said. “The American fans are slightly more prepared and more ready to take in the numbers, and to think about it in this way. Because most of the national sports already have that kind of tendency. Compared to Europe, it has taken off a bit quicker in the States.”

When RBI’s, Quarterback ratings, rushing yards, PPG, WAR and many other measurable categories are thrown at you by U.S. sports franchises and media outlets every single day, how are you not going to know all about stats if you’re a sports fan in America?

Naturally, U.S. soccer fans seem to be the savviest and most encompassing when it comes to seeking out statistical trends in soccer.

Many argue you can apply stats to any sport and get positive results. So, is there a general rule?

“The skill with all this stuff is finding the balance between what you see on film and what you see in the numbers,” Drew said. “That’s what I think you’re beginning to see in some clubs, there are people who have an interaction between those different categories.”

MESHING THE FUTURE

The next big thing is what many at Opta see as some kind of ‘holy grail’ and that is, combining their own data with physiological and tracking data.

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How a typical setup looks whilst using OptaPro. This incredible program is distributed to all of Opta’s clubs.

That would be a real game-changer, and clubs are hurriedly working behind the scenes to fuse these different types of analysis to create a system that can not only quantify a player’s performance in terms of passes, shots and goal, but also their meaningful runs forward, average position on the pitch and how they rank physiologically against the opposition.

It will be hard to achieve, but the guys at Opta aren’t ruling that out in the near future.

“I think the big breakthrough that the clubs wants to make is combining the event data and the physical data,” Bateman said. “If you actually log the physical data, you can log where the ball has gone but you can’t actually say what that event is. With a few of our clients this year, they’re all starting to use tracking data. So we now have a partner we work with and in the next few years we hope to have more than just speed and distance appearing on the screen. Nobody is using that data to say, ‘this is how many presses’ or ‘this is how many runs down the line.’ We hope to do that.”

That’s something Green echoes, and believes if that next hurdle is achieved, Opta’s level of analysis could be raised even higher.

“A lot of those clubs will take both [physiological and performance data], but I don’t know how much they try and synchronize that data themselves,” Green said with an inquisitive glance at Drew to his left. “There are obvious advantages to be gained from paying attention to the movement. If you can combine them, it allows you to say a hell of a lot more about what players are doing and potentially why, and look at the structures and styles of play in a different way, that’s beyond what we can already do.”

Another factor that we discussed in Part I that will also become more prominent, is being able to track players together throughout their careers to see how good they are. Look at the image on the right from OptaPro, as they compare the careers of Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets. You can do this comparison for any player in any league Opta work with.

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Opta can now compare different players, in every category, over the span of their careers. Steven Gerrard vs. Sergio Busquets number of passes in final third is shown above.

The numbers can help players at Scunthorpe be compared to Real Madrid. The ability to unearth raw talent across many different countries and leagues over time, at the click of a button, is astounding.

But there is one rather useless fact that you often see popping up during the game, is the stat ‘distance covered.’ But what does that mean?

“The one editorial question we always get is people asking about ‘distance covered.’ And if it’s not meaningless… it’s not far off it,” Green said with an exasperated look on his face.

If you think about the likes of James Milner, who is hailed as one of the hardest working players for both Manchester City and England, he certainly looks like he’s running around a lot and busting a gut for the badge. But is it meaningless work? Or is the tremendous shift he’s putting in having the desired affect?

Meshing Opta’s stats with a GPS and physiological database will help get an answer to that.

That’s the next step.

MLS – A WORK IN PROGRESS

We’ve looked at the rise of certain stats and what Opta are planning for the future, but how is MLS using Opta’s information?

The truth is that although MLS is enamored by Opta, only a few of MLS’ clubs are really taking this stuff seriously. Is that because of rival companies or lack of funding for analytics departments? Perhaps.

But the aim now is to get as many MLS franchises as possible working with Opta’s deeper analytics. If all of this fantastic information is there for them to use, why wouldn’t they?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLDZPykXmxc&w=350&h=175]

“It’s different [in MLS],” Dennis said. “You get Man City and Chelsea, who are two of our clients who use a whole range of our products and we have over 100 club clients. But in MLS we sort of work with two or three of the clubs on a match analysis level, and that’s still a level we want to get more involved in.”

On an in-depth level where Opta really helps them drill down on every single game they play, only two to three MLS teams use that. Of course, others sides may already use Opta’s stats that the league feeds them and be happy with that. From what I’ve seen and heard, stats, of any kind, are extremely prominent in U.S. sports. So it surprises me that MLS sides aren’t delving into the deeper analytics.

Stats aside, NBC Sports is helping soccer rise in the States with its TV coverage. So Opta’s work is now reaching new audiences.

“With NBC making all Premier League games available, there’s obviously an argument that MLS could suffer as a result. I don’t subscribe to that,” Dennis said. “I think that anything that gets the game out there more is a good thing. I think NBC have done a really good job and obviously they’re using our data which is great. They’re going to start using the touch screen as well for on-air analysis.”

With Premier League and MLS more accessible than ever in the U.S., Opta’s window of opportunity to showcase their talents is vast. Just one of the reasons why they’re keen to keep working hand in hand with North America’s top domestic league, especially as soccer analytics is on the rise in the US.

MLS’ website has their own ‘Opta Spotlight’ column and Devin Pleuler, who writes MLSsoccer.com’s ‘Central Winger‘ analytics column, is now employed by Opta US to help with their analysis of MLS. Add to that a vast multitude of blogs and writers looking at stats in U.S. soccer, and the market is booming.

“The community is getting a bit more savvy about it,” Dennis said. “There are more and more clubs who are beginning to develop their analytics teams, and MLS is trying to encourage that. Everyone is trying to apply the Moneyball concept to soccer. Will we get there? I don’t know.”

But it sounds like Opta, MLS and soccer analysts across the globe are going to have a wonderful time trying to unravel the myths surrounding the beautiful game.

“We want to cut through football and make it a lot better… but we don’t want to solve it,” Drew said. “Because then, well, it would be quite boring.”

Kane’s history-maker delivers another Tottenham win vs Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium remains a house of horrors for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City following Spurs 1-0 win on Sunday, as Harry Kane made Premier League and Tottenham history in North London.

It’s Spurs’ fifth-straight win over City at home, a stunning run for any team against three-peat chasing visitors. Spurs also finished the game with 10 men after Cristian Romero collected a late, second yellow card, but City still could not find a way home.

Kane’s 267th Tottenham and 200th career goal came off a City error in the 15th minute and the visitors never found an equalizer, shut out for the first time since an Oct. 16 loss at Liverpool.

WATCH TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager, and it was North London rival Tottenham that acted on it.

City remains five points behind Arsenal, who holds a match-in-hand, while Spurs climb onto 39 points. That’s one behind Newcastle and three back of third-place Man United, though Spurs have played more games than anyone else in the Premier League other than Fulham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Harry Kane reaction to win, record-setting goal

What he said to NBC after the game. “It’s hard to put into words, a magical moment and especially do to it in a win as well. Being here at home in front of the fans. There’s been so much talk about it and I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible. To do it in a big game against one of the biggest teams in the world…it’s a great feeling. When I started playing regularly 8, 9 years ago, it wasn’t even in my mind to score 200 Premier League goals. When Tim Sherwood gave me my first start, I was so desperate to make my mark. A lot of hard work, with Mauricio and all the coaches. Jimmy Greaves is a complete hero, one of the best to play the game. To be in that company is a special feeling. I’m sure his family is watching and proud as well.”

What he said to crowd after the game: “Thanks for supporting me my whole career. Thank you to my wife, my kids, family and friends. And to my teammates. It’s super. Let’s keep the support going and see where it takes us.”


Pep Guardiola reaction

“We started really well. As usual against Tottenham, home or away, we make a mistake and they punish us. They are a team at 1-0 down who are not easy. We had chances with Riyad, but even with our people up front it’s not easy, and we dropped three points.”

Why he didn’t start Kevin De Bruyne for tactical reasons, but subbed him anyway: “We brought him in for the last pass. In the second half it was moree difficult. He can make one of these actions.”


Stars of the Show

Harry Kane: What else can you say about him?

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: The sort of guy who makes the middle of the park a danger zone, and today that meant an assist.

Manuel Akanji: One of the precious few City players who continues to consistently show hunger.

Ivan Perisic: Up and down the left side, should’ve had an assist to Kane late.

Jack Grealish: A constant menace who won fouls out of nothing. You might not like that, but it worked a treat.

Tottenham vs Manchester City
fotmob.com

What’s next?

Man City is home to Aston Villa on Sunday, Feb. 12, a day after Tottenham heads to Leicester City.


Harry Kane goal video: Tottenham, England star makes big history


Tottenham vs Manchester City live updates, as they happened

Tottenham vs Man City final score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:57pm ET: Nearly for both sides! Julian Alvarez tears into a shot that just misses the frame at one end, and Kane should’ve had a corner for a denied chance at the other end but it was ruled he just missed the frame.

12:51pm ET: A short City corner nearly makes it 1-1, but Eric Dier’s thigh gets a piece of the ball that looked marked for upper 90. It’s another corner, and there’s a handball shout against Cristian Romero that goes unheeded. Now Spurs race back the other way and Ivan Perisic comes close to finding Kane with a dragged shot-cross through the six. It’s getting fun!

12:43pm ET: So nearly 2-0, but Ben Davies’ header off a corner kick is just off the mark.

Wait, what’s that? Kevin De Bruyne’s music? A game plan crying out for him is now getting its pleas heard as cameras catch the Belgian getting dolled up for his introduction.

12:37pm ET: Back in play, albeit slowly, and the second half’s first real moment comes when Grealish wins a foul on the left off of Emerson Royal. The lofted in free kick is a bit wayward and seems to carry too much, and the passage ends with a City goal kick. Still 1-0 Spurs.

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
fotmob.com

12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

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For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, it’s safe to say your temptation is now officially unhealthy.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

There is something somewhat dull about knowing the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, the lone curiosity being the final number of his final tally, we get it, but most of what Haaland is doing this season is simply marvelous and to be admired without much fear.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 25 goals have him eight goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

The Norwegian star piled up 20 goals in a single Premier League season faster than any player in history… by seven games (Kevin Phillips of Sunderland did it in 21). Now he’s within five goals of equalling Kevin Phillips’ record for most goals in a debut Premier League season.

And the later this season goes with him projected so far over the current record, the less chucking is accompanied by marking out the pace (especially considering Haaland was not beaten up by the World Cup, as Norway was not in the tournament). And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is rather realistic.

How many records can Haaland break?

Premier League Golden Boot
fotmob.com

Haaland may not be likely to hit 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault and that figure isn’t entirely absurd. He’s played in 20 of Man City’s 21 games, scoring 25 goals.

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

    1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 25
    2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 17
    3. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 13
    4. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 11
    5. Rodrigo, Leeds United — 10
    6. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United — 10
    7. Miguel Almiron, Newcastle — 9
    8. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 8
    9. James Maddison, Leicester City — 8
    10. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — 7
    11. Phil Foden, Man City — 7
    12. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 7
    13. Leandro Trossard — Brighton/Arsenal — 7
    14. Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal — 7
    15. Harvey Barnes, Leicester City — 7
    16. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
    17. Callum Wilson, Newcastle — 7
    18. Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace — 6
    19. Pascal Gross, Brighton — 6
    20. Danny Ings, Aston Villa/West Ham — 6
    21. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
    22. Daniel Podence, Wolves — 5
    23. Darwin Nunez, Liverpool — 5
    24. Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton — 5
    25. James Ward-Prowse, Southampton — 5
    26. Kai Havertz, Chelsea — 5
    27. Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton — 5
    28. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 5
    29. Brennan Johnson, Nottingham Forest — 5
    30. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United — 5
    31. Bryan Mbeumo, Brentford — 5
    32. Ruben Neves, Wolves — 5

Premier League assist leaders: Who will win Playmaker of the Season?

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Kevin De Bruyne’s gaudy assist numbers give rise to any number of considerations, and we have to wonder if the Manchester City star has ever wondered if the Premier League record would be his in a world in which Jose Mourinho found better use for him at Chelsea.

De Bruyne’s 11 assists this Premier League season are four more than his nearest competitors — Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Man Utd’s Christian Eriksen — and give him 97 for his career. That’s fifth all-time, two more than Dennis Bergkamp and 65 (?!) behind record holder Ryan Giggs.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The Belgian star, 31, arrived at Chelsea from Werder Bremen at the age of 22 and managed only 425 in a half-season before being offloaded to Wolfsburg. Back in the Bundesliga, De Bruyne got six assists the rest of the way before setting up 21 goals the next season to set up a move to Man City.

He’s since won the nascent Premier League Playmaker of the Season Award twice, including a 20-assist 2019-20 season, and he’s on pace to make it three of six. Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, and Eden Hazard have also won the award, which is only five years old.

De Bruyne also led the Premier League in assists in 2016-17, the year before the league but a name on the honor.

His stats hint that there’s more to come, as ‘KDB’ is creating a gaudy 3.71 chances per 90 minutes. After a season in which he scored 15 times with eight assists, De Bruyne is back taunting those who’d dare chase him in terms of setting up goals (Some guy named Erling Haaland is helping…).

Take a look at De Bruyne’s shining stats, and read on to see who’s chasing him in a list of the Premier League assist leaders for the 2022-23 season.

Premier League assist leaders
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Premier League 2022-23 assist leaders

  1. Kevin De Bruyne, Man City — 11
  2. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
  3. Christian Eriksen, Manchester United — 7
  4. Bernardo Silva, Man City — 5
  5. Dejan Kulusevski, Tottenham Hotspur — 5
  6. Alex Iwobi, Everton — 5
  7. Andy Robertson, Liverpool — 5
  8. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
  9. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 5
  10. Ivan Perisic, Tottenham Hotspur — 5
  11. Andreas Pereira, Fulham — 5
  12. Granit Xhaka, Arsenal — 5
  13. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City — 4
  14. James Maddison, Leicester City — 4
  15. Marcus Tavernier, Bournemouth — 4
  16. Kieran Trippier, Newcastle — 4
  17. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 4
  18. Michael Olise, Crystal Palace — 4
  19. Kenny Tete, Fulham — 4
  20. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 4
  21. Mathias Jensen, Brentford — 4
  22. Jack Harrison, Leeds — 4
  23. Morgan Gibbs-White, Nottingham Forest — 4
  24. Solly March, Brighton and Hove Albion — 4
  25. Rodri, Manchester City — 4
  26. Douglas Luiz, Aston Villa — 4
  27. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United — 4

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

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After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

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Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page


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