Each Wednesday we bring you our weekly fix of five statistics to give your weekend football punting the numerical edge…
6 – Successive Manchester derbies in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium to finish under 1.5 goals
Eagerly-awaited they may be but recent clashes between Manchester City and Manchester United, at least in the blue half of the city, have tended to be cagey affairs. None of the last six at the Etihad have included more than a single goal.
Last term’s crucial derby was settled by Vincent Kompany’s header, while a year earlier they played out a goalless draw. Paul Scholes’ late winner handed United the points in 2009/10, while it was Wayne Rooney who hit the only goal in November 2008, a game in which Cristiano Ronaldo saw red for the visitors.
The last time a league clash at City went over 1.5 goals was in January 2006 when Trevor Sinclair, Darius Vassell and Robbie Fowler notched in a 3-1 victory for the hosts. Ruud van Nistelrooy was on target for United, who had seen Ronaldo dismissed in the second half.
They meet again on Sunday afternoon with the winners set to take top spot in the Premier League.
7 – Winless league matches for Chelsea
There was a time when Robert Fleck and Craig Burley were among Chelsea’s most exotic European imports. This was also the time when the Blues had a monopoly – shared with Tottenham, in truth – on mid-table finishes. The current crop may still be third in the Premier League but they are channelling the spirit of the forgotten mid-90s.
Without a win in seven league outings, a period which has seen them draw four – against Swansea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Fulham – and lose at the hands of Manchester United, West Brom and West Ham, it is their worst winless run since 1994/5.
Then, under player-boss Glenn Hoddle the Blues didn’t taste success in ten top-flight fixtures, a spell which began with a 3-0 loss at Norwich in December 1994. They wouldn’t win again until efforts from Burley and Mark Stein saw them past the Hammers in late February.
Other familiar names in the squad included current Baggies boss Steve Clarke, skipper Dennis Wise, Sky’s Scott Minto and trouser-sporting ‘keeper Dmitri Kharine. They were, as some people say, the days. Chelsea finished 11th.
Rafa Benitez’s charges are on the road at struggling Sunderland on Saturday out to avoid further humiliation…
Out of the blue, while everyone was looking the other way, Leyton Orient found some form. Previously considered simply to be potential Olympic Stadium tenants who occasionally enjoyed a game of five-a-side on the set of EastEnders, Russell Slade has finally led the O’s on a consistent run.
His charges have won each of their last four in the third tier, seeing off Shrewsbury, Carlisle, Portsmouth and Preston to ease into mid-table, while they’ve also seen off Gloucester and Alfreton in the FA Cup during that time.
Should they take all three points at Bury on Saturday it would be their best winning league run in more than a decade. Then, in 1999, under Tommy Taylor, the Londoners saw off Mansfield, Cambridge United, Brighton, Torquay and Rochdale in the old division three.
That spell eventually came to an end in mid-March with a 2-1 home reverse against Hull, but they would go on to finish sixth, edging out Rotherham in two turgid play-off semi-final legs before going down 1-0 against Scunthorpe in the final.
13 – Unbeaten league matches for Millwall
Over in Bermondsey, Millwall are enjoying a similarly surprising period of form. Kenny Jackett has done a fine job at the New Den but few fancied the Lions to be sitting in the upper reaches at the start of December.
Their goalless draw with Charlton last Saturday extended their unbeaten Championship run to 13 matches, winning seven and drawing six. They haven’t enjoyed such a spell since 1976 when Gordon Jago’s men finished the campaign with 15 unbeaten games, securing promotion to the old division two.
Lying back in tenth after a February loss at Gillingham, they would surge into second thanks to that spell. They made it 17 with a victory over Notts County and a stalemate with Southampton before losing 3-1 at Bolton in August ‘76.
To pursue the London-centric thread, Millwall began the 75/76 promotion campaign with a double signing from Orient. Barrie Fairbrother and Terry Brisley arrived in swap deal which saw Doug Allder go the other way. Fairbrother would go on to struggle at the Den but Brisley made almost 200 appearances before being sold to Charlton.
The Lions go in search of 14 not out at Ipswich on Saturday.
6 – Consecutive Preston victories over Crewe in league and cup
Just a single point separates Preston and Crewe in mid-table of League One but the Alex have an unenviable record against North End in recent meetings. The Railwaymen have lost each of the last six clashes in league and cup.
The sides met at Deepdale last term in a League Cup game, with the hosts battling back from 2-1 down to take a 3-2 victory thanks to Iain Hume’s 90th-minute effort. That was their first fixture since 2005/6 when they squared up three times. The Lancashire outfit triumphed 2-0 at Gresty Road in the league, edged through 2-1 in an FA Cup third round tie and took the spoils in the Championship in March, with Brett Ormerod settling matters.
North End did the double in 2004/5, seeing off an Alex team which included Dean Ashton and David Vaughan. Their last success came in October 2003 when Kenny Lunt and Steven Foster notched in a 2-1 home win, with Preston finishing the game with ten men after Ricardo Fuller’s dismissal.
Read our top five statistics for the weekend's football every Wednesday at Best of the Bets.
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