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I was at Goodison Park on Sunday for Everton's seventh consecutive home Premier League game without conceding a goal. The last goal they conceded at home in the league was to Hal Robson-Kanu of Reading.
Everton are now unbeaten in 11 Premier League games at home and have lost just one of 25 - which was to Chelsea in December 2012.
The game marked Chelsea's first defeat in 12, since the 2-1 defeat to Southampton at the end of March. As I write, the two Merseyside clubs are the only two unbeaten sides in the Premier League.
Leighton Baines made his 250th Everton appearance and Leon Osman made his 350th appearance for Everton. It was also Steven Naismith's 27th birthday and he scored his first goal since scoring against Chelsea on the last day of last season.
The two clubs had met 24 times in the last eight seasons - an average of one extra meeting per season in that time. It was the first meeting of Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez - and Jose has now lost two in a row to Spanish managers after losing the Super Cup Final to Pep Guardiola.
Four in a row
Dear Martin. I always enjoy your commentaries and try to look out for your weekly stats column each week. I noticed that Olivier Giroud and Daniel Sturridge have now scored in the first four games of the season and wondered if this has ever happened before? Callum (Liverpool fan)
MARTIN SAYS: I can tell you that this is only the second time in Premier League history that two players have scored in the opening four games of the same season. The last time it happened was 2005/06 when both Ruud van Nistelrooy (for Manchester United) and Darren Bent (for Charlton) both netted in the opening four matches.
In fact there are only nine players in Premier League history to have scored in the first four games of the season. The first player to do it was Branco Strupar for Derby County back in 2000/01 and only eight players have done it since then. I have detailed those for you below.
As mentioned in the column a couple of weeks ago, the record run for the start of a season is scoring in five consecutive games. Giroud and Sturridge now both have the chance to match Arsenal's Jose Antonio Reyes (2004/05) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (2011/12).
Players to have scored in the opening four games of a Premier League season:
Branco Strupar, Derby (2000/01)
Jose Antonio Reyes, Arsenal (2004/05)
Ruud van Nistelrooy, Man Utd
Darren Bent, Charlton (2005/06)
Bobby Zamora, West Ham (2006/07)
Emmanuel Adebayor, Man City (2009/10)
Wayne Rooney, Man Utd (2011/12)
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal (2013/14)
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool (2013/14)
Open four business
Hello Martin, always a massive fan of your superb commentary and your stats and facts column. Well Olivier Giroud was yet again at the end of an opening goal for Arsenal for the fourth game running. I would therefore like to know if he has notched up a Premier League record by scoring opening goals for four successive matches to start a season? Thanks. Mark Kawanga
MARTIN SAYS: Olivier Giroud has indeed set a Premier League record here. He has indeed become the first man to score the opening goal in the first four games of a Premier League season. Daniel Sturridge went close, scoring the opening goals in the first three games and then scoring in the fourth minute of Liverpool's fourth match against Swansea - but as you'll know that was the second goal of the game after Jonjo Shelvey had opened the scoring.
Giroud has become the 16th man in Premier League history to open the scoring in four successive matches. Only one player has opened the scoring in FIVE successive matches and that man is Dwight Yorke, who netted the opener in five successive games in Manchester United's treble-winning season of 1998/99. He scored the first goal in wins over West Ham, Leicester, Charlton, Derby and finally in the famous 8-1 against Nottingham Forest. Giroud can match that run if he nets the first goal of the game against Stoke at the weekend.
It's amazing given so much history that football continually throws up new experiences. It's why it's so stimulating to commentate and to do this column each week.
Sixteen players to have scored the opening goal in four successive Premier League games:
|Season||4th game date||Player||Team||Season Game no. where run stated||Season Game no. where run ended||Total opening goals|
|1998||03/02/1999||Dwight Yorke||Manchester United||21||25||5|
|2001||20/01/2001||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink||Chelsea||4||7||4|
|2010||17/10/2010||Carlos Tevez||Manchester City||5||8||4|
|2011||23/10/2011||Rafael van der Vaart||Tottenham||5||8||4|
|2011||06/04/2012||Papiss Demba Cisse||Newcastle||29||32||4|
Hello Martin. I am sure you would agree with me to say Ashley Young has won plenty of penalties during his Premier League career as his extravagant trickery usually opens up defences. My question therefore is that is he anywhere near the top of the top penalty winners in Premier League history? Thank you. Mark.
MARTIN SAYS: Opta have only been keeping statistics on which individual players have won penalties since the start of the 2005/06 season and in that period Ashley Young has won 12 Premier League penalties. Only one man has won more in that time - and that's his former Aston Villa team-mate Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has won 13. Indeed, since Ashley Young made his debut in August 2006 the two have won 12 penalties apiece.
Penalties won by Ashley Young in the Premier League:
|14/09/2014||Man Utd v Crystal Palace||Kagisho Dikgacoi||Jonathan Moss|
|15/04/2012||Man Utd v Aston Villa||Ciaran Clark||Mark Halsey|
|08/04/2012||Man Utd v QPR||Shaun Derry||Lee Mason|
|11/03/2012||Man Utd v West Brom||Keith Andrews||Lee Probert|
|05/03/2011||Bolton v Aston Villa||David Wheater||Kevin Friend|
|26/02/2011||Aston Villa v Blackburn||Keith Andrews||Martin Atkinson|
|25/01/2011||Wigan v Aston Villa||Hendry Thomas||Jonathan Moss|
|13/11/2010||Aston Villa v Man Utd||Wes Brown||Mike Dean|
|22/08/2010||Newcastle v Aston Villa||Steve Harper||Martin Atkinson|
|05/12/2009||Aston Villa v Hull City||Matt Duke||Stuart Attwell|
|15/11/2008||Arsenal v Aston Villa||Theo Walcott||Mike Riley|
|08/12/2007||Aston Villa v Portsmouth||Sylvain Distin||Mike Riley|
Only three other players have won 10 or more penalties in the last eight season, including two more former Aston Villa players Darren Bent and Peter Crouch. The other is Luis Suarez, who has won 10 penalties in just three seasons in the English top flight.
Most penalties won in the Premier League since 2005/06:
Gabriel Agbonlahor (13)
Ashley Young (12)
Darren Bent (11)
Luis Suarez, Peter Crouch (10)
Robin van Persie (8)
Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba, Adam Johnson (7)
Andrew Johnson, Carlton Cole, Salomon Kalou (6)
No devils for England
Hi Martin, After taking in the England games during the international break, I couldn't help but notice that against Ukraine we did not have any Man Utd players in the starting 11. I can't recall the last time this would have happened. Can you find out the last time England started a game without a single Man Utd player starting? Amit (Man Utd Fan)
MARTIN SAYS: You're absolutely right. There were no Manchester United players in the starting line-up in Ukraine, although Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley both came on as second-half substitutes. As recently as last March there were as many as five United players starting the qualifier against Montenegro - Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney.
The last match in which an England starting line-up failed to include a single Manchester United player before Tuesday's game was two-and-a-half years ago in a friendly at Wembley in March 2011 against Ghana. The line-up that night was as follows:
Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Gary Cahill (Bolton)
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
Gareth Barry (Manchester City)
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
James Milner (Manchester City)
Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)
Andy Carroll (Liverpool)
Indeed, the only Manchester United player involved on that evening was substitute Danny Welbeck, although technically he was on loan at Sunderland at the time.
Tuesday's game in Ukraine was the first competitive international England have played without a starter from Manchester United for six years since the 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley in November 2007. The line-up that night was as follows:
Scott Carson (Aston Villa)
Micah Richards (Manchester City)
Joleon Lescott (Everton)
Sol Campbell (Portsmouth)
Wayne Bridge (Chelsea)
Joe Cole (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Gareth Barry (Aston Villa)
Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea)
Peter Crouch (Liverpool)
Indeed, on that occasion no Manchester United players were involved at all, as Owen Hargreaves and Wes Brown were unused substitutes.
Overall, in the last decade there have only been five England games with no Manchester United players in the starting line-ups - there's the three mentioned above plus matches against Austria in November 2007 and October 2005. In four of the five games, at least one Manchester United player has come off the bench.
So the only game in the last 10 years with no Manchester United players involved at all was that infamous defeat in the rain against Croatia.
That's a testimony to the fact they've been the top club for so long. It's nice that there were eight United players in the August squad against Scotland in these days when fewer English players are playing for top clubs.
Not keeping clean
Dear Martin, my team Aston Villa cannot not stop conceding goals. I can't even remember the last time we had a clean sheet in the Premier League! It must have been about a year ago. Are we reaching some kind of record for not keeping a clean sheet? Liam
MARTIN SAYS: Aston Villa are definitely on their way to one of the longest Premier League runs without a clean sheet and I'm sorry to say this Liam, but it doesn't fair well for your hopes of avoiding relegation.
It might jog your memory if I tell you that the last time Villa didn't concede in the league was December 2012 in a 0-0 draw with Stoke. They have now gone 26 games without a shut-out - the fifth longest run without a clean sheet in the history of the Premier League.
Below is a list of the ten longest runs and three of those teams sitting above Villa went on to be relegated in the same season. There is one anomaly though; West Bromwich Albion, who went a record 34 games without a clean sheet in the 2010/11 season, ended up only narrowly avoiding a top-10 finish in eleventh.
We may only be four games in to the season, but Villa will want to avoid joining the five clubs below who have gone the longest run without a clean sheet from the start of a season. Funnily enough, to not equal Middlesbrough's 17 game record from the 2000/01 season; Villa will need to stop Stoke from scoring in their December 21st fixture in 13 games time - almost exactly a year on from their last clean sheet against the same club.
It's remarkable that 17 of the 20 clubs have kept a clean sheet after just four rounds of games this year. I've had at least one in every Premier League commentary I've done. Roll on the Manchester derby...