Many thought Crystal Palace were dead and buried, then along came Roy Hodgson.
When the former England manager arrived at Selhurst Park on 12 September, he took on a team without a win – or a goal – in their first four Premier League games.
How fortunes have changed.
Following Saturday’s 3-0 win at Leicester, the Eagles are two points above the relegation zone and unbeaten since the 1-0 loss at Spurs on 5 November.
We look at the facts and figures that highlight Hodgson’s achievement, and focus on other eye-catching statistics from the weekend.
Had Hodgson been aware of the reaction that would follow his appointment, he may have thought longer and harder about joining his ‘hometown’ club.
It was perhaps his underwhelming stints in charge of England and Liverpool that prompted the negativity, with the consistency the 70-year-old has shown during his 39-year managerial career overlooked.
But his side are now unbeaten in eight games – their best run in the English top flight since a series of 12 without defeat ended in October 1990.
This is how the table has changed from 30 September this year, when Palace lost 4-0 to Manchester United.
|Premier League bottom seven after seven games|
|Premier League bottom seven after 18 games|
If the Premier League table started when Hodgson took charge of his first game on 16 September, Palace would be very comfortable, midway up the table.
Roy’s rovers come to Palace’s aid
Winger Wilfried Zaha’s return from injury in October has certainly helped Hodgson.
His predecessor Frank de Boer barely saw the precocious attacker after he damaged his knee on the first day of the season. Against Leicester on Saturday, the 25-year-old produced a sublime finish for the Eagles’ second.
His importance to the team is illustrated by this statistic: Zaha has now been involved in 29 Premier League goals for Palace (17 goals, 12 assists) – only Chris Armstrong (31) and Jason Puncheon (32) have been involved in more for the club.
Even striker Christian Benteke, pilloried by some in recent times, might have finally rediscovered his mojo under the guidance of Hodgson.
The 19th-minute opener against the Foxes was his first in 1,106 minutes of Premier League football and Palace’s first away from home in the competition in 934 minutes.
Could this be the start of a successful run for the 27-year-old Belgium striker, who has scored the fifth-highest number of goals among the current crop of top-flight strikers (67)? Only Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud (73), Tottenham’s Harry Kane (90), Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku (94) and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (109) have scored more.
Sorry, no change
Is the key to Burnley’s success this season down to consistency in the selection of the starting XI?
Manager Sean Dyche does not like to tinker, so much so that he has only made 15 changes to the starting line-up in the league this season – nine fewer than any other side.
But he will have to continue to be miserly with his changes if he is to beat the record held by the Fulham side of 2008-09. Only 24 changes were made to the starting XI during that campaign, when they finished an impressive seventh in the table.
The manager then? Roy Hodgson.
Noble on the spot
England and penalty shootouts have been uncomfortable bedfellows in recent tournaments. With manager Gareth Southgate in the process of selecting his squad for the 2018 World Cup finals, should he give West Ham’s Mark Noble some consideration because of his competence from the spot?
The 30-year-old Hammers skipper scored his 19th penalty for the club in their 3-0 win at Stoke. He has only missed four in the league.
In fact, of the 34 league goals he has bagged for West Ham, 56% have been penalties.
But is he the league’s spot-kick king?
|All-time Premier League players with most goals from the penalty spot (more than 30 games)|
|Goals||Penalties scored||% of penalty goals|
Cech set to join the vacant 200 club
What will Arsenal keeper Petr Cech get for keeping 200 Premier League clean sheets? A certificate? Maybe a bottle of champagne? Or some vouchers?
Or perhaps the 35-year-old, who is on 199 after the 1-0 win over Newcastle, will be content simply knowing he has kept more clean sheets and has a better games-to-clean-sheets ratio than any other keeper in Premier League history.
Perhaps what stands out in the table below is that former Blackburn keeper Bobby Mimms has had more shut-outs than keeper-of-the-moment David de Gea of Manchester United.
We hope Mimms sees our table.
|All-time Premier League keepers with the best clean-sheet percentage|
|Games (50+)||Clean-sheets||Clean-sheet percentage (%)|
|Edwin van der Sar||313||132||42.2|
|David de Gea||217||85||39.2|
And finally… another Salah celebration section
Mohamed ‘The Egyptian Magician’ Salah has done something strikers Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez couldn’t manage.
On Sunday, winger Salah scored his 20th goal in only 26 games in all competitions for Liverpool in their 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth.
That meant the £34m summer signing became the first Reds player to get 20 goals in a season before Christmas since Anfield great Ian Rush in 1986-87.
His goals have also helped Liverpool become the first team in top-flight history to have won four consecutive away games by a margin of at least three goals.
And for your next trick, Mo?
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