Opta insight: Premier League trends - Kane, Alisson, De Bruyne, Man City, Ozil

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Could a Premier League team average less than one successful pass per minute[/img]
Will Cardiff be the new Wimbledon?
[img]data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" data-src="{width}{hidpi}/cpsprodpb/FFFE/production/_102843556_warnock.png" data-sizes="auto" alt="Graphic showing completed passes in 2017-18: Man City 666, Cardiff 166, difference between the sides 500">
There's no right or wrong way to play football, just different ways.
And rarely do you find approaches more different than Cardiff City (166 successful passes per game in the Championship in 2017-18) and, say, Manchester City (666 successful passes per game in the Premier League in 2017-18).A difference of five hundred feels like a lot and, guess what, it really is.If the 2017-18 Championship season had been decided on pass completion, Fulham and Wolves would still have gone up but Cardiff would have been rock bottom and heading to League One with a figure of 59%. The last Premier League team to post a lower rate was Watford in 2006-07 (57%) - and they finished 10 points adrift of safety. Wading further back into Opta's early modern databases, the Wimbledon side of 1999-2000, like Cardiff last season, completed 59% of their passes, and ended the season with relegation. That said, as the table below indicates, none of the least accurate passing teams in each Premier League season in the 2010s have actually gone down, although none of those sides (often managed by Tony Pulis) approached the truly industrial nature of Neil Warnock's Cardiff team.
bbc.comMeanwhile, Huddersfield showed last season you don't even need to score that many goals any more; the Terriers' total of 28 in 38 games equalled the lowest by a Premier League team who didn't go down, while their total of 21 games without scoring is the most by any non-relegated team. Goals, passes, everything: it's all overrated.
Don't expect promoted teams to struggle
Perceived wisdom dictates promoted teams struggle as they attempt to bridge the gap to the higher standard of the Premier League, but is that really true any more[/img]
The 'magic 40-point mark'? It doesn't exist
While we're talking about survival, let 2018-19 be the season that the 40-point margin of safety is forever debunked. It is 15 years since a team last got relegated with 40 or more points (West Ham with 42 in 2002-03), while in the interim only two sides (Birmingham and Blackpool, both in 2010-11) have gone down with 39. The all-time unlucky side in a 38-game top-flight season remain Sheffield Wednesday in 1989-90. They managed to go down despite collecting 43 points, enough for Fulham to finish in 12th in 2012-13.Like the time cut in a stage of the Tour de France, each season's peril can only be judged on its own terms.
Goalkeepers are getting better at football
[IMG]data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" data-src="{width}{hidpi}/cpsprodpb/10287/production/_102838166_epapepguardiola.jpg" data-sizes="auto" alt="Pep Guardola">
Pep Guardiola led his side to success in the Community Shield on SundayPep Guardiola may be at the vanguard of the movement to make goalkeepers pass the ball better - and particularly sideways at goal-kicks - but it's a trend that's been growing for some time in the Premier League.Fifteen years ago keepers completed less than 43% of their passes, but in 2017-18 that had risen to 54%, with Guardiola's muse Ederson completing 85.3% last season, a figure that put him level with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba. It's all a far cry from Middlesbrough's Brad Jones in 2005-06 - he found a team-mate with less than a quarter of his passes. Guardiola reportedly turned down the chance to play for a number of Premier League clubs in 2005-06, presumably philosophically sickened by the wayward passing culture that had infected goalkeeping up and down the country.
Click to see content: Keeperpasscompletion
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