Weekend numbers: Paul Pogba's best-ever season, Raheem Sterling's magic touch
The race for the 2018-19 Premier League crown promises to go down to the proverbial wire. A Raheem Sterling brace set up Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, Liverpool responded with a thrilling 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at Anfield. Brilliant stuff. Lower down in the table, Manchester United eked out a 2-1 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford to stay in contention for a top four spot.
Meanwhile, across continental Europe, two giants of the game squandered chances to seal their respective domestic titles. Juventus were stunned 2-1 at 14th placed SPAL while Paris Saint-Germain were eviscerated 5-1 by Lille!
In Spain, a Messi-less Barcelona ground out a 0-0 at Huesca while Atletico Madrid beat Celta Vigo 2-0 thanks to goals from Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata.
Over in the Bundesliga, Dortmund beat Mainz 2-1 to put a measure of pressure on Bayern Munich on Saturday. The following day, the Bavarians shrugged it off with a 4-1 thrashing of Fortuna Dusseldorf to maintain their one-point advantage at the top.
Here are the best stats from the weekend:
SPAL’s stunning 2-1 win over Juventus was only their second ever against the Bianconeri… the first happened in 1957!
Antoine Griezmann scored his third goal from a free kick this season in Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday. He had just four in his previous eight La Liga seasons combined. Griezmann’s three free-kick goals are tied with four others for the second-most among Europe’s top five leagues. Only a certain Lionel Messi has more (6).
Moise Kean’s six Serie A goals this season are the most by a player 19 years old or younger since Domenico Berardi scored 16 for Sassuolo in 2013-14. He is also one among only two Juventus players to score in four straight Serie A appearances this season — the other being Cristiano Ronaldo, of course.
Only Ruud van Nistelrooy (8 in 2002-03) has scored more penalties in a single Premier League campaign for Manchester United than Paul Pogba (7) this season. Pogba scored a brace in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday.
Pogba now has 13 goals and nine assists this season — making this the most productive league season of his career. His previous high was the 2015-16 Serie A season (8 goals, 12 assists). It is also, by a distance, the best he has played since his return to Manchester — he’d scored just 11 goals in the previous two PL seasons combined.
Nineteen-year-old Jadon Sancho joined Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and Pablo Sarabia as the only players from Europe’s top five leagues with at least 10 goals and 10 assists this season. The Englishman is also the only teenager from Europe’s top five leagues since 2010-11 to register double-digit goals and assists in a single season.
Sadio Mane has now scored 21 goals in all competitions for Liverpool in 2018-19 — his most in a single season in English football. Oh, and he’s smack bang in the middle of the PL golden boot race — only Sergio Aguero and teammate Mohammed Salah (19) have scored more than his 18 league goals.
Forget Sarri-ball for a minute, Chelsea started the game at Anfield with a spiky determination that saw them put in 22 tackles in the first half alone; that’s at least three more than any other team have made in the first half of a PL game this season.
Fabio Quagliarella leads the Serie A Capocannoniere race with 22 goals (Ronaldo is fourth, with 19, in case you were wondering). The 36-year-old has been involved in 30 league goals this season — trailing only Messi and Mbappé in Europe’s top five leagues.
Manchester City have won each of the last 26 Premier League matches in which Raheem Sterling has scored. It is also the first time in his career that Sterling has scored 20+ goals in back-to-back seasons in all competitions.
Liverpool are now unbeaten in last 38 Premier League home games (28-0-10) — the longest run in their top-flight history since the club record 63 in 1978-80.
Since the start of last season, Mohamed Salah has scored more goals in all competitions than any other Premier League player. Salah scored Liverpool’s second in their win against Chelsea.
Quirky stat of the weekend – 67!
Chelsea have not received a red card in 67 PL games. Among current PL teams, only Liverpool have a longer active streak of games without a sending off (68).
(Statistics courtesy ESPN Stats & Information)