Premier League started on 9th August 2019. We are now days into September but more than 10% of the 2019/20 season has been consumed.
Liverpool and Manchester City pulling away from the rest seems too familiar. Other situations like the longing gaze at the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decision on the big screen and the new goal-kick rule is utterly new.
What then are the trends from the opening few weeks of the season?
The VAR has had less of an impact than you might think. Its establishment overlords in Stockley Park ended up making an intriguing period. Despite some high-profile reversals in the opening few weeks, it seems like the officials have determined the league’s new system of justice should not have too major an impact.
I bet no one can forget the 2018 World Cup which saw 29 penalties shattering the record for a single tournament. VAR honed in on grappling and barging.
This season’s Premier League, there has been only nine spot-kicks awarded which is below average for the past 10 seasons.
Back in 2012/13 season when video referees were the stuff of science fiction, seven penalties were awarded on the opening weekend alone.
It’s similar to the red cards. With five this season making them half as many as at this stage two seasons ago and four fewer than the previous season.
Brighton and Manchester City
A change noted in this season’s Premier League is the new goal kick law. Before the ball had to be played outside of the penalty area before being touched by a team-mate. In the long-ball era of the 1990s and before, this was not an issue.
A Mitre ball pumped up harder than the surface of one of Jupiter’s moons would be ‘distributed’ upfield by a goalkeeper in remarkably high shorts. The play would commence near the halfway line.
Nowadays, goalkeepers can stroke a short one inside the box and stretch the play.
Proportionally, Manchester City’s Ederson leads the way in short passes from goal-kicks with Brighton’s Mat Ryan with 69%.
All of Edersons’ goal kicks are either stylistic penalty-box modernism or gigantic pitch-length knocks. Truly, he is a man for all seasons.
Salah is unselfish
The memorable image last weekend was Liverpool forward Sadio Mane’s fury after his substitution at Burnley. The apparent cause was Mohammed Salah’s decision not to pass to his team-mate. With the apparent reason, is Salah selfish or not? Well, there is no definitive way of judging this. Similarly, a reasonable proxy is surely the ratio of big chances created by a player to the big chances he’s taken himself.