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THE TRUTH HURTS

14 Premier League stats from this season that sound like bulls**t but are actually true

Includes wasteful Mo Salah, metronomic Granit Xhaka, and controversy-free Mike Dean...

1 Granit Xhaka is Xavi reborn

They call him Mr. Reliable (…they don’t)

AFP or licensors
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They call him Mr. Reliable (…they don’t)

If you were to make a 2017/18 highlight reel for Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder it would feature plenty of balls clipped into Row D and a load of mistimed tackles.

But actually, only Nicolas Otamendi has completed more passes than the metronomic Xhaka this season.

Although that could be the Gunners’ main problem…

2 Mesut Ozil is more of a midfield enforcer than N’Golo Kante

The next Claude Makelele battles it out with N’Golo Kante

Getty - Contributor
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The next Claude Makelele battles it out with N’Golo Kante

Arsene Wenger’s man has received four yellow cards this season, more than the omnipresent Kante, notorious hothead Marko Arnautovic and foul-enthusiast Miguel Britos.

Despite being the subject of many an ArsenalFanTV rant during his time with the club, Ozil has shown that he actually loves to get stuck in… when it suits him.

Perhaps the defensive midfielder Arsenal have been crying out for has been under their nose the whole time? No? Okay then…

3 Cesc Fabregas + Eden Hazard = Marc Albrighton

Quick maths

Getty Images - Getty
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Quick maths

Leicester’s humble winger has provided seven league assists this campaign, the same as Fabregas (4) and Hazard (3) combined.

Not that Gareth Southgate gives a flying f**k.

4 Marcus Rashford makes Eric Dier look like a saint

Lowkey lover of a scrap

AP:Associated Press
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Lowkey lover of a scrap

Of course Jose Mourinho has turned Rashford into a defensive-minded workhorse.

Man United’s Golden Boy has committed 20 fouls this season, one more than Spurs hardman Eric Dier (19).

For similar results, see Man City magician David Silva committing more fouls than Jonjo Shelvey, the only man to be sent off twice this season.

5 Mohamed Salah couldn’t finish his dinner

You heard us

EPA
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You heard us

No player has missed more ‘big chances’ than the Egyptian king this season.

19 times he’s squandered a golden chance — more than Christian Benteke (18) and Alvaro Morata (15).

He’s also going to win the Golden Boot… proof that everyone should remain confident and just keep shooting.

6 Richarlison is a better defender than Nicolas Otamendi

Pep would love an excuse to play him at centre-back as well

Reuters
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Pep would love an excuse to play him at centre-back as well

Watford’s No11 has made more tackles (58) than Man City’s much-improved centre-back (52).

That might be something to do with the fact Otamendi doesn’t actually have to do much defending but it’s surprising nonetheless.

Roberto Firmino (55) is the only other forward up there in the tackling stakes… must be a Brazilian thing.

7 Joselu is Paolo Maldini, Franz Beckenbauer and Franco Baresi all rolled into one

How can you be angry at that face?

Getty - Contributor
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How can you be angry at that face?

No wonder Joselu’s finishing is atrocious, he’s a natural defender.

The Newcastle forward may have only contributed four goals but he’s chipped in with an impressive 34 clearances, three more than £50million centre-back John Stones.

Time to give up playing as a striker, mate… for everyone’s sake.

8 Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois are below average keepers

Get your head around this…

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Get your head around this…

What that graphic shows (apart from David De Gea’s brilliance) is that Spurs and Chelsea’s highly-rated keepers have conceded more than they should have this season.

At least according to the Expected Goals (xG) gods.

Petr Cech’s under par efforts hardly comes as a surprise but do Lloris and Courtois get too much credit? Perhaps…

9 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is ever-present

Benchwarmer? Far from it…

Getty - Contributor
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Benchwarmer? Far from it…

Arsenal fans said the Ox wouldn’t get a game for Liverpool.

But Little Mix’s biggest fan is one of only five outfield players to have featured in 31 games this season.

10 Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero have got nothing on Cesar Azpilicueta and Alvaro Morata

Amigos

Reuters
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Amigos

Okay, so the connection between Chelsea’s Spaniards has been well-publicised.

But it’s surprising that they’ve still combined for more goals (6) than the league’s top assist provider and the league leaders’ top scorer.

Especially when you take into account Morata’s Shakespearean tragedy of a season.

11 Mike Dean shies away from the spotlight

The shy, retiring type

Reuters
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The shy, retiring type

It wouldn’t be a Premier League weekend without referee Mike Dean receiving endless abuse on Twitter.

However, maybe the claims that he likes drama aren’t true after all.

Mousa Dembele’s best mate has only shown two red cards so far this season, three fewer than Michael Oliver and Martin Atkinson, who have both shown five.

There you have it, controversy-free Dean is actually a footballing purist who wouldn’t dream of making a game about himself.

12 Big, bad Arsenal are the set-piece bullies

Remember when this fan invaded the pitch for a disallowed goal? Classic

Getty - Contributor
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Remember when this fan invaded the pitch for a disallowed goal? Classic

Historically, opposition teams have had success against Arsenal by bombarding them with set-pieces.

These days, the roles are reversed.

The Gunners have scored more set-piece goals (13) than any other team in the league this season.

They’ve also conceded just five goals from set-pieces, one fewer than die-hard gatekeepers Burnley.

13 Jeff Hendrick is a goal-hanger

Explain yourself, Jeffrey

David Klein
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Explain yourself, Jeffrey

Burnley’s midfield engine has somehow been caught offside 16 times so far this season, that’s more than any of Liverpool’s ultra-attacking front three.

Literally, how has that happened?

14 Jamie Vardy takes fewer shots than your average left-back

Okay, so Marcos Alonso is hardly ‘your average left-back’

Getty - Contributor
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Okay, so Marcos Alonso is hardly ‘your average left-back’

Chelsea’s wing-back is not shy of making his way forward and striking at goal when the opportunity comes.

With help from a few free-kicks, Alonso has racked up 55 shots this season; three more than Sadio Mane, eight more than Leroy Sane, and four more than out-and-out No9 Jamie Vardy.

Altogether now: “Marcos Alonso’s having a party…”


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