The English Premier League is now entering the third month of its season following its second international break. All 20 teams have now played seven of their scheduled 38 games and some trends are clearly starting to show. There’s still a long way to go, but some clubs are already in trouble while others are performing as well as expected.
There have been a few surprises in the first couple of months though and we’ll go through 10 of them in this list. Of course, these surprises, stats and facts could suddenly change at any time, but these are 10 things that have been quite noticeable to the naked eye after the league’s first seven rounds.
10. Stoke City the Cleanest Team
Stoke City has built up a well-deserved reputation of being a tough, physical team to play against, especially at home at the bet365 Stadium. However, they haven’t been known as the cleanest squad to play against, especially with players such as Ryan Shawcross and Joe Allen on the pitch. Therefore, it comes as a bit of a surprise that 13th-place Stoke has the best disciplinary record in the 20-team league after seven matches. The team had committed 61 fouls and received a league-low seven yellow cards with Allen being responsible for three of them. Overall, there have been 3.13 yellow cards per game in the Premier League after seven rounds, which is down from last year’s total of 3.62 per match. But it’s still higher than the 2015/16 season which was just 3.05 yellow cards per contest. Chelsea is currently the “dirtiest” team in the league with 24 disciplinary points compared to Stoke’s seven.
9. Manchester Domination
London and Liverpool clubs are definitely taking a back seat to the pair from Manchester early in the season. After seven games, Manchester City and Manchester United shared the league league with identical records of six wins and a draw. Man City sat on top of the table though due to their goal difference of 20 compared to United’s 19. City had scored 22 times and allowed two against while United had 21 goals for and two against. The next highest-scoring team in the league was Tottenham Hotspur with 14 goals. The Manchester duo were also the only unbeaten squads in the league after seven games with each team dropping just two out of a possible 21 points. They’ll both need to keep it up though as third-place Tottenham was just five points behind in the standings.
8. Leroy Sane: Speed Demon
Speed means a lot in today’s game and if you can combine it while carrying the ball you’re going to make life a nightmare for defenders. It’s no secret that some players have a lot more pace than others, but Manchester City’s Leroy Sane appears to be in a class of his own. Not only was the 21-year-old forward clocked at being the fastest player in the 2017/18 season, he’s currently ranked as the fastest Premier League player ever at 22.05 miles per hour. That’s 35.48 kilometers per hour hour for those of you on the metric system. However, let’s clarify that players’ speeds have only been calculated since 2014. Still, it’s an impressive feat and the native of Germany broke the previous speed record of 35.44 kilometers per hour set by England’s Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.
7. Burnley and Watford: One Loss Each
Another surprise on the league table are the records of Burnley and Watford. These small and unfashionable teams haven’t been tearing up the league by any stretch of the imagination, but each had just one loss after seven games. Burnley sat in sixth place and Watford in eighth with identical records of three wins, three draws and a loss for 12 points. Burnley had scored just seven goals, but owned the second best goals-against mark in the league with only five against while Watford had scored 11 times and allowed 12 against. Burnley’s lone loss was 1-0 to West Brom in their second game of the season and they have a win over Chelsea and draws with Tottenham and Liverpool away from home. Watford’s drawn with Liverpool, with their only loss being a 6-0 drubbing at home by Man City.
6. Wayne Hennessey’s Goaltending Stats
With cellar dwellers Crystal Palace allowing 17 goals against in seven games one would think that goaltending is definitely a problem even though the team has yet to score. But things would be much worse if it wasn’t for the heroics of 30-year-old Welsh international goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. The native of Bangor has played every game for his club and has faced the most shots on goal at 44. However, he also has the second-most saves in the league with 28, which is just one behind Lukasz Fabianski of Swansea City who had saved 29 of 37 shots on target. On one hand, Hennessey has the worst goals-against average in the league, but he’s also been the busiest keeper and has proven to be a fine shot stopper.
5. Joe Hart’s Struggles
While we’re on the topic of goaltending, let’s take a look at Joe Hart, who has somehow managed to hang onto the number one job with England’s national team. The 30-year-old is on loan at West Ham United from Manchester City this season and was expected to help the Hammers climb up the standings. But while he’s had a few good games this year with three clean sheets, he’s basically been awful in the other four games by allowing 13 goals against. Hart has allowed the second-most goals against in the league, but unlike Wayne Hennessey he hasn’t been making many saves. In fact, Hart had faced just 28 shots on goal after seven games and saved only 15 of them. He needs to pull up his socks or 15th-place West Ham could find themselves in the relegation zone.
4. Romelu Lukaku’s Scoring Prowess
Okay, most fans knew Romelu Lukaku was a fine goalscorer, but not many expected him to almost single-handedly turn around Manchester United’s fortunes. The 24-year-old Belgian international was leading the Premier League in scoring with seven goals after seven games and had 11 in his first 10 matches in all competitions with United. He and Andy Cole are the only United players to find the net seven times in their first seven league outings. So far, his £75 million pound transfer fee from Everton appears to be paying off handsomely. Lukaku possesses patience, agility, speed, raw strength, and confidence and that combination will see him fight for the Golden Boot this season. It’ll be interesting to see what United manager Jose Mourinho does with his squad when striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to action and what effect it will have on Lukaku.
3. Everton’s Performance
With top scorer Romelu Lukaku being sold to Manchester United in the offseason, Everton knew they’d need to replace his goals somehow. The Merseyside club brought Wayne Rooney back to the side and also acquired Sandro Ramirez and Gylfi Sigurdsson to help out. However, Rooney has two league goals with both of them coming in the same game while Sigurdsson and Sandro have yet to open their Everton accounts. The Toffees have just four goals in seven contests and are paying for it in the standings, as they’re in 16th place with just seven points. Manager Ronald Koeman is expected to get more out of his players, but the club should have thought twice before unloading Lukaku for the money. What good will it do them if they’re relegated?
2. John Stones Passes the Test
There are some great passers in the Premier League, but the often-maligned John Stones of Manchester City isn’t generally considered to be one of them. The 23-year-old former Everton defender ranks number one overall after seven games when it comes to passing accuracy though. The English international has completed 97 percent of his passes to lead the way among players with at least 400 pass attempts. Stones had completed 431 of his 446 attempts which puts him a full five percent ahead of Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal, who has gone 454 for 493. Man City players also lead the list when it comes to total passes completed, with Fernandinho completing 507 of his passes followed by Nicola Otamendi with 504 and David Silva at 499.
1. Sorry State of Crystal Palace
London’s Crystal Palace occupied the basement of the Premier League after seven games with no points at all. They trailed first place by 19 points and were four back of 19th-place Bournemouth. But what makes Palace’s situation so dire is the fact the squad has yet to score a single goal while conceding 17 of them. The club’s start is the worst to any season by any team in the history of English football. That record was set after their sixth straight loss and now Palace is making more history with each consecutive defeat. Manager Frank de Boer was sacked after just 77 days and five games and replaced with former England boss Roy Hodgson, so the team’s fortunes aren’t likely to turn around anytime soon.