Wenger's astute substitution, Keane leads the way, Jol sets Dempsey free

The weekend's top flight action analysed by Nick Govier, editor of Footballistically.co.uk

The shock of the latest round of Premier League matches was the seven goal thriller at Craven Cottage, notable not just for the number of goals but also for a phenomenal tactical turnaround by Martin Jol which swung the game Fulham's way.

Fulham began with Bobby Zamora up front on his own and Newcastle were able to isolate him as they seized control of the match. Steve Sidwell was removed before halftime for Andrew Johnson to provide a partner for Zamora, and Bryan Ruiz was withdrawn at the break for Chris Baird.

This moved Damian Duff from the left to the right wing, and most importantly allowed Clint Dempsey to get on the ball further up the field. The change in average positions before and after these changes is shown in the chalkboard below.

The resulting improvement Clint Dempsey's influence was most notable; only completing two passes prior to Sidwell's withdrawal and finding himself performing a more defensive role, yet having much more of a say after the change, particularly going forward, not least by scoring a hat-trick.

Robbie Keane nearly joined Dempsey in the hat-trick club as he made his first start for his latest club, Aston Villa. He led the match stats for goals (two), shots (four), shots on target (two), successful passes (44) and attacking third passes (21 successful of 27 attempted), in a dominant display which ultimately made the difference.

From dominant attacking displays to dominant defensive ones, as Sunderland kept a clean sheet in the face of 69% Swansea possession, restricting the Welsh club to just three shots on target. This was largely down to the Black Cats’ 22 successful tackles (the equal highest of the weekend, with Arsenal) and 21 interceptions (fourth highest of the weekend).

Wigan were ever so slightly less successful with their tackling against Queens Park Rangers, conceding 19 fouls, including two penalties. Four of those fouls were on Shaun Wright-Phillips; his nine attempted take-ons (hexagons on the chalkboard) show how eager he is to run at the opposition right-back and cause him problems.

Finally, another right-back with problems this weekend was Johan Djourou. Having been sent off at Fulham and left exposed repeatedly against Swansea, Manchester United directly targeted him throughout the first half.

They got their reward when Nani crossed from space on Djourou's side for the opening goal. An uncharacteristic halftime replacement was needed by Wenger, and it was telling that the introduction of 18 year old Nicholas Yennaris shored up that side of defence for the remainder of the game.

Stats Zone, the app from FourFourTwo powered by data from Opta, is available now at the iTunes App Store

 

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