There are few better things to watch in the game than Kevin de Bruyne at his very best.
That was illustrated on Sunday as he put in a masterful display against Arsenal, scoring two goals and providing an assist as Manchester City won 3-0.
The Belgium playmaker’s contribution means he has now scored or assisted 16 goals in 16 appearances – so is he on course for his best season in a Manchester City shirt?
Meanwhile, from bookies’ favourite to be relegated to flying highest of the teams that came up from the Championship, Sheffield United are proving the doubters wrong – and then some. But are they on course for the best season by a newly-promoted team?
And who is the most-fouled player in the Premier League and what unwanted statistic do Newcastle own? BBC Sport examines the key stats of the weekend.
De Bruyne to deliver best yet?
“Not since I saw Zinedine Zidane dominate the European Championship final in 2000 have I seen such a complete performance.”
BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks summed it up – De Bruyne put in a brilliant display at Emirates Stadium on Sunday as he almost single-handedly destroyed the Gunners.
It is far from the first time this season he has proved unplayable and it begs the question – is he on course for the best season of his career?
The statistics certainly suggest that could be the case.
He already has more goals and assists at this stage of the campaign than in any of his previous seasons at Manchester City.
He has 10 assists so far – just eight shy of the total he managed in the whole of his excellent 2017-18 campaign. That also puts him halfway down the road to equalling Thierry Henry’s single-season record in the Premier League of 20 assists.
If you compare De Bruyne to the best-performing players in Europe’s top leagues, while his goal return total lets him down slightly, his assists tally is the best in the continent – with only Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho anywhere close to him on eight.
|Goal/assist rankings in Europe’s top five leagues|
|Kevin de Bruyne||6||10||16|
Traore the (bad) tackle magnet
Remember the kid at school who had all the skills and the only way to get the ball from them was to take them down?
In the Premier League playground, that’s Adama Traore.
After a low-key start to his Wolves career last season, the winger has been sensational so far in the current campaign and chipped in with a stunning goal against Tottenham on Sunday.
While he showed he has a thunderous strike in him, what the Spaniard is really all about is trickery and particularly pace.
Spurs trio Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane were all booked for taking out the former Middlesbrough forward, taking the total of players shown yellow cards for fouls on him this season to an incredible 21 from 26 games.
“It is tough to defend and opponents do what they have to do,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
“I think all the referees know in the cases of players like this that they must act immediately to prevent an injury. Sometimes a tackle can cause a serious injury to the player, and that is not fair.”
Surprisingly, though, he isn’t the most fouled player in the Premier League with that painful honour instead going to Aston Villa dribbler Jack Grealish.
How high can they go?
With six wins from 17 games and just four defeats, it has been an incredible season so far for Sheffield United.
Their total of 25 points has them well on the way to achieving their first objective of Premier League survival.
But it will also have some Blades fans wondering just how high they could finish.
When it comes to best performances by a promoted side at the same stage of the season, Sheffield United are certainly up there, although not quite the best.
Instead it is Sunderland, whose tally of 34 points after 17 games is unrivalled. That total put them fourth in the table, just four points behind Premier League leaders Leeds United.
Peter Reid’s side included the on-fire Kevin Phillips, with the striker finishing the campaign with 30 goals to win the European Golden Shoe – still the only Englishman to do so – as the Black Cats finished seventh.
In terms of the best end-of-season points tally by a promoted team, that record is held jointly by Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, although their total of 77 points were achieved when there were 22 teams in the Premier League.
Since the top flight became a 20-team division, Ipswich have picked up the most points with 66.
So how could Sheffield United shape up in comparison? They are currently taking 1.47 points per game. If they maintain that level of form they would pick up an additional 30 points, putting them on 55.
But the main goal will undoubtedly be survival and the good news is it would take an incredible dip in form for them to be relegated – only once has a team with the same amount of points the Blades have at this stage of the season gone on to be relegated – Blackpool in 2010-11.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
The Tangerines won seven of their first 17 games but just three more victories after that saw them relegated back to the Championship.
Short changed in the entertainment stakes?
On the whole, things are going pretty well for Newcastle.
They are sat comfortably in middle of the table with 22 points, seven clear of the relegation zone.
But despite that fact, it’s entirely possible Newcastle fans may feel a bit let down in the entertainment stakes.
On Saturday, they became the first team to fail to register a shot on target against Burnley in the Clarets’ time in the Premier League. That’s a total of 207 games.
What’s more, of the nine occasions a team has failed to direct a shot on target in a Premier League game this season, three of them have come courtesy of Newcastle.
So have they become a less attacking side under Steve Bruce than during Rafael Benitez’s tenure?
A direct comparison between this season and last suggests not, with Newcastle having scored 14 goals after 17 games of the 2018-19 campaign compared to 17 in 17 this term.
But looking into this season’s games individually makes for pretty unpleasant reading.
|Newcastle shots on target||Opposition|
|0||Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester|
|2||Arsenal, Man Utd, Wolves|
|3||Man City, Tottenham|
|4||Brighton, Norwich, Sheff Utd|
|5||Aston Villa, Watford|
|9||Bournemouth, West Ham|
In 12 of their 17 games so far they have managed just four shots or fewer on target.
While they have proved clinical with the limited chances they have had, relying on making the most of those few opportunities may be a difficult tactic to maintain throughout the season.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe