Saturday analysis: What Stats Zone taught us today

Saturday's findings: How crucial Cazorla spurs Arsenal on, Stoke's change of approach, efficient Black Cats, a blunted Belgian and vivacious Villa

The first ever Saturday on which you could use Stats Zone - our multiple-award-winning app, fired by data from Opta - in its new online version produced the usual number of eye-opening findings. Here's just one from each of today's matches... then it's over to you to find some more. 

Fulham 1-3 Arsenal

Although Aaron Ramsey won Sky's Man of the Match award for his midfield performance in Arsenal's 3-1 win at Fulham, it was one of the two men playing alongside him that offered the biggest creative threat.
 
Santi Cazorla has certainly been a success at Arsenal, but his performance levels have tended to fluctuate. That has, in part, been down to a regular altering of his position, but he thrived in a more central role in Saturday's early kick-off.
 
The Spaniard created five chances for his team-mates, a high number, particularly for an away fixture.
 

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Stoke 2-1 Palace

The big question surrounding Stoke coming in to the new season was whether Mark Hughes would look to ditch the direct approach traditionally adopted by predecessor Tony Pulis.
 
In Saturday's win over Crystal Palace, Begovic attempted eight short passes and 12 long passes. Comparing those figures to the Potters' previous competitive home game - May's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham - tells the story. That day, the Bosnian made just two short passes, opting to go long twenty times. Early days, but there certainly seems to be more willingness to build from the back.
 

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Hull 1-0 Norwich

During the game at the KC, Stats Zone user @MRThompson9 noted Hull "defending for their lives". Kudos to their 23 tackles (17 won), 17 interceptions and 51 ball recoveries - a defensive diligence which kept the visitors at arm's length: although Norwich managed a far from feeble 13 shots, only three of them were from inside the box. 
 

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Newcastle 0-0 West Ham

Perhaps wayward shooting was in the East Coast breeze. Newcastle managed a staggering 16 shots without hitting the target – and their opponents West Ham didn't fare much better, drawing just one save from their six efforts.
 

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Southampton 1-1 Sunderland

Very different cat-skinning methodologies at St Mary's. Last spring, Sunderland's late-season away wins came about through extremely efficient use of minority possession, and for long periods at Southampton it looked like more of the same.
 
Enjoying 65.3% of the ball, Saints racked up almost three times as many completed passes – 451 (out of 533) compared to 163 (of 249) - but had to wait until the 88th minute to equalise. It was a particularly frustrating day for Rickie Lambert: half of his 8 shots were on target, but he couldn't find a way past Keiren Westwood.
 

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Everton 0-0 West Brom

Also frustrated were Everton, who only got 8 of their 22 shots on target against West Brom. As expected, the Toffees had higher passing and possession numbers in Roberto Martinez's first home game, and at the heart of it was Marouane Fellaini. Playing in his favoured deeper role behind Ross Barkley, the Belgian topped the pass charts with 56 completed out of 66, although Steven Pienaar was much the busier in the attacking third. 
 
The twofold worry for Everton may be that the lack of Fellaini in the final third may somewhat blunt them - and that such impressive performances may tempt his old boss David Moyes to increase Manchester United's bid for the 25-year-old.
 

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Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

Villa's tough trio of opening fixtures have revealed plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Although Daniel Sturridge's sublime goal earned Liverpool the win, it was the visitors' only effort on target: Villa piled up 17 goal attempts to the Reds' mere 5. Moreover, Villa were far from outpassed – they completed 402 of their 480 passes to Liverpool's 456 of 553, with Fabian Delph and Jones Okore to the fore - while no fewer than seven different Villans completed take-ons. The visitors may have won the sort of game they tended to lose last season, but Paul Lambert can be content with his own side's bright future. 
 

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