Premier League stats: Man City eclipse Europe's elite, Salah's prolific form & Solskjaer's super start

By Matt BullinBBC Sport
Danilo
Danilo's first goal of the season was Manchester City's 100th across all competitions

Manchester City scored their 100th goal of the season as they cruised to victory at Huddersfield - but how does their quick-fire century compare to Europe's elite?

We also look at Mohamed Salah's prolific form, analyse Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's exemplary start as Manchester United caretaker boss and ponder whether Paul Pogba is enjoying the best season yet.

But first...

City's superb century

Manchester City were nowhere near their free-scoring best on Sunday yet they were able to sweep aside Huddersfield, scoring their 100th goal of the campaign in the process.

It was Brazilian full-back Danilo, their 17th different goalscorer of the season, who completed City's century in what was only their 35th outing of the campaign across all competitions.

Incredibly, despite the fact Pep Guardiola's team scored 144 goals last term, including a record-breaking 106 in the Premier League, they did not reach 100 in all competitions until their 38th match.

In fact, only one Premier League team have ever reached a century of goals faster - Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City in 2013-14 (34 games).

Premier League teams
SeasonTeamGames taken to score 100 goals across all comps
2013-14Manchester City34
2018-19Manchester City35
2017-18Manchester City38
2013-14Liverpool39
2017-18Liverpool40
2009-10 & 2012-13Chelsea43

Danilo's deflected strike also meant Guardiola's side became the first side in the top five European leagues to reach a century of goals this term.

To put that into context; their nearest rivals are Paris St-Germain with 90 goals, Barcelona have scored 81, while Premier League leaders Liverpool have netted a relatively meagre 65.

Top scoring teams in Europe's top five leagues
CountryTeamGoals scored across all comps in 2018-19
EnglandManchester City102
FranceParis St-Germain90
SpainBarcelona78
GermanyBayern Munich62
ItalyAtalanta62

Pogba in the form of his life?

Paul Pogba's stuttering spot-kick in Manchester United's win over Brighton was his eighth league goal of the season, meaning he has already surpassed his Premier League tally for 2017-18 (six) and 2016-17 (five).

It also meant he has equalled his best return in a single season in the top five European leagues - he also scored eight goals for Juventus in 2015-16 and 2014-15.

So, with 15 Premier League games left to play, the World Cup-winner has already surpassed his best goal tally in England and equalled his best tally in Serie A.

Which begs the question: in a season in which Pogba has mainly hit the headlines for his relationship (or lack of one) with former manager Jose Mourinho, is the Frenchman actually having his best season ever?

The stats suggest so...

While three of his goals have come from the spot, Pogba is averaging 0.43 goals per 90 minutes and he is becoming more of a creative influence too.

He has already provided seven assists this term and he is creating 1.67 chances per game, while his passing statistics are just as impressive.

And the good news for United fans is that Pogba's form has improved since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's appointment.

He has netted five times and assisted four in his past six Premier League outings, which are, coincidentally, the six games for which Solskjaer has been in charge.

The key stats behind Pogba's form

  • Pogba has scored 0.43 goals per 90 minutes this term which is a career-high.
  • He has provided 0.38 assists per 90 minutes in 2018-19 which is only bettered by his rate of 0.42 in 2017-18.
  • The Frenchman has taken 1.99 shots on target per game this season, in 2017-18 he took only 0.75 per game.
  • His shot conversion rate sits at 11.59% in 2018-19, in 2017-18 it was down at 7.89% and in 2016-17 it was just 5.43%.
  • Pogba is creating chances at a rate of 1.67 per 90 minutes, meaning he is creating chances more frequently than he did in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with Juventus.

Salah's half-century of goals

Liverpool talisman Salah scored his 15th and 16th goals of the season in the Reds' defeat of Crystal Palace on Saturday - taking his Premier League tally to 50.

It took the Egyptian 72 games to reach his half-century of goals - a milestone only Andy Cole (65 games), Alan Shearer (66) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (68) have reached faster.

But how does he measure up against Liverpool's most deadly Premier League marksmen?

Well, it looks as though Salah will become the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 Premier League goals at a canter.

Fernando Torres scored his 50th goal in his 72nd outing, Luis Suarez in his 86th and Robbie Fowler in his 88th - three prolific forwards whose records pale next to Salah's.

The Egyptian has netted an incredible 48 times in 59 league games for the Reds, with his other two goals coming for Chelsea during the 2013-14 season.

Player Games taken to score 50 Premier League goals for Liverpool
Fernando Torres72
Luis Suarez86
Robbie Fowler88
Michael Owen98
Daniel Sturridge103

Solskjaer's super start

Manchester United caretaker boss Solskjaer became the first manager in the club's history to win his opening six league games as the Red Devils overcame Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday.

And in doing so he became only the third manager in Premier League history to achieve the feat, after Carlo Ancelotti with Chelsea in 2009-10 and Guardiola with Manchester City in 2016-17.

So the Norwegian is in esteemed company. But have his team's favourable fixtures helped him out?

Perhaps. In Solskjaer's opening six games, the average position of his opponent [at the beginning of the day of the fixture] has been 13th, whereas Guardiola's opponents were placed at 10.8, while Ancelotti's were at 7.6.

SeasonClubManagerGamesWinsAvg position of opponent
2009-10ChelseaCarlo Ancelotti667.6
2016-17Manchester CityPep Guardiola6610.8
2018-19Manchester UnitedOle Gunnar Solskjaer6613

Nonetheless, Ancelotti and Guardiola did both lose their seventh match in charge, so Solskjaer will surely treat his side's game with Burnley on 29 January with caution.

But if he can guide United to victory over the Clarets he will become the first manager to win his first seven Premier League games in charge of a certain club. Not bad for a man in interim charge.

Gunners improve against the big six?

Arsenal's impressive win over Chelsea at Emirates Stadium means they have now taken eight points from seven games against the 'big six' teams this season - two more than they did in the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign.

But while Saturday's win and a memorable North London derby victory in December illustrate there are signs of progress under Unai Emery, they are still some way behind their rivals.

The Gunners were soundly beaten by Manchester City at home and they were thumped at Anfield while they could only claim a draw at Old Trafford.

And with trips to the Etihad and Tottenham to come, as well as a home game against a reinvigorated Manchester United, the Gunners may be hard pressed to take more points off their "big six" rivals.

Premier League's big six table - 2018-19
TeamPWDLGFGAGDPoints
Manchester City641184413
Liverpool7331137612
Chelsea6222910-18
Arsenal72231215-38
Tottenham62049906
Manchester United6123713-65

Manchester City have continued their dominance in games against the "big six" sides, while Liverpool have notably upped their game this season. They too have claimed more points against their rivals than they did in the whole of 2017-18.

By constrast, Manchester United have taken just five points from their "big six" meetings this term, which represents a poor return considering last season's efforts.

Premier League's big six table - 2017-18
TeamPWDLGFGAGDPoints
Manchester City1080227111624
Manchester United106131411319
Tottenham104151516-113
Chelsea10334911-212
Liverpool102441621-510
Arsenal101361021-116

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