With a quarter of the Premier League season flown by already, we've seen our fair share of shocks, stunning goals and terrible mistakes. The English top flight is what many label as "the best in the world," and it hasn't disappointed so far.
Arsenal and Liverpool shot out of the starting blocks, setting the pace early on. They were caught up by Chelsea, though, and Southampton are doing everything right, too, sitting comfortably in third place—a marvelous turnaround from last season's start.
Manchester United started their new era under David Moyes with a stunning win at Swansea, but things haven't gone to plan since. They are above city rivals Manchester City, though, who are eighth with four defeats on the road already.
Tottenham Hotspur made a big statement in the summer. With Gareth Bale's summer-long transfer saga in full swing, Andre Villas-Boas and Daniel Levy went to work and bought Paulinho, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Vlad Chiriches with their Bale Credit Card. After spending around £100 million, and receiving £86m in return from Real Madrid, Spurs were all set for a top-four charge. Some even questioned whether they could challenge for the title.
That figure is strange, though, considering the number of chances they've created and shots they've had. Spurs have had the most shots in the league so far, hitting a staggering 206; Man City are their closest rivals with 191. The north Londoners have also created the most chances (153).
Their problem is clearly finishing. Andros Townsend has had the most shots this season (45) but has only scored one goal...from a mishit cross. Townsend, along with Soldado and Paulinho, have the worst conversion rates in the Premier League so far. Soldado was, at one point over the summer, Spurs' record transfer but has scored just once from open play, scoring 4.5 percent of chances.
Spurs spent a lot of money in the summer but can't score and are not coherent yet. AVB needs to sort it soon or their season will tail off before the New Year.
Man Utd have looked a shadow of the side that ran away with the Premier League title last season, and that could be down to the change in style under Moyes. The Scot was known at Everton for building a solid unit who would battle for 90 minutes. Their biggest chance-creator was their left-back, who would constantly swing crosses into the penalty area.
United have already made close to last season's total of crosses—incidentally, the most in the league—but have the lowest success rate of 16 percent. United have also picked up 24 yellow cards—only Stoke City have more—signalling the change in style of Moyes' preferred system of play.
The resurgence on the south coast from Southampton has been something to behold. Since Nigel Adkins' sacking, Mauricio Pochettino has improved every aspect of the squad. From the quality of playing staff to the system they use on the pitch, everything has been changed.
The Saints are now an aggressive, high-pressing, high-tempo machine. The new tactics have seen the Saints win at Anfield and draw at Old Trafford so far. They have completed the most fouls this season with 276, showing their new tenacious work ethic.
Another team that has gone under the knife is Everton. After Moyes left the club to join United, Roberto Martinez sailed in from Wigan having lifted the FA Cup in May. The Spaniard is known for his passing style of play, and he has installed that into his Everton players, who are now reaping the benefits. The Blues were always a hard side to play against due to their physical nature and solidity, but under Martinez, they are now a fearsome attacking threat.
The Blues play the ball on the ground for the majority of the match, something not seen at Goodison for many years. Martinez tried and, ultimately, failed to implement his style of play at Wigan but now has a group of higher talented players at his disposal, and it shows. At Wigan, they completed 381 passes in the final third of the pitch, on average, throughout last season. However, at Everton, they are completing an average of 408 passes per game in the final third.
Everton's most prolific chance-creator, for years, has been Leighton Baines; Moyes used his crossing as his side's main threat. That's now changed as Baines is the third-most creative player at the club behind Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman.
Man City's style of play is slightly different, too. Under Manuel Pellegrini they now attack a lot more often down the wings, rather than straight through the middle. City have created the most chances on the left channel (27) and right channel (32) so far. Left-back Aleksandar Kolarov has also had the most number of shots from a defender with 15 in total (11 outside the area, also the most from a defender).
Crystal Palace are bottom of the league and without a manager. Their form is mainly down to the fact that their squad is not good enough for England's top division, and they will probably drop straight back down the Championship this season, but where has it gone wrong?
They spend a lot of time without the ball in games, averaging 45 percent possession in their 11 matches so far. Palace have also completed the most tackles (266) and the second-most interceptions (183). Mile Jedinak, their central midfielder, has been poor on the ball but excellent off it. Only Brad Guzan has played more failed passes (144) than the Australian (138).
So, in short, Palace have been terrible in possession but quite combative when not on the ball. If they continue that, they will be relegated.
That sums up the quarterly review of the Premier League season, using statistics from Squawka, and we can see that a lot of teams have changed their style of play and are still adapting. The two teams to not have changed their styles of play at all are Liverpool and Arsenal, who are reaping the benefits as they sit in the top two places in the table.
One would expect the teams mentioned to improve over the next quarter of the league season, but one thing is for sure, we're in for one exhilarating ride.
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