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Premier League: The key stats as the 2022-23 title race hits halfway point

Pep Guardiola, Erling Haaland, Bukayo Saka, Mikel Arteta

Surprised by developments in the Premier League this season? Or is it all panning out just as you expected?

The 2022-23 campaign has returned in full force following the World Cup break and, with the halfway point upon us, there has been much to reflect on since Arsenal beat Crystal Palace in the opening match in early August.

But can the Gunners hold on to their lead? Are there any records Erling Haaland won’t break? And will Sven Botman ever taste defeat?

Here, BBC Sport takes a look at what we’ve learned so far in this season’s Premier League – and what that could tell us about what is yet to come. You can also have your say on who will lift the trophy at the end…

It’s Arsenal’s title to lose

Mikel Arteta, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard

History tells us Arsenal should go on to win the title from here.

The Gunners have become only the seventh team in English top-flight history to take as many as 47 points from their first 18 games (adjusted to three points for a win).

Only Liverpool, in 2018-19 (48 points), have made a start that good and failed to lift the trophy.

Mikel Arteta’s side, fifth last term, held an eight-point advantage over Manchester City prior to the defending champions’ win over Tottenham on Thursday, when both sides had played an equal number of games. In the Premier League era, five clubs have previously had a lead at least that big after 18 games or more and only one – Norwich City in 1992-93 (eight points) – did not finish top.

A key factor in Arsenal’s title bid will be whether Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard can maintain their sparkling form.

Playing in the team with the youngest average starting age in the division (24 years 237 days), the pair lead the way for total goals and assists among Premier League midfielders with 13 each – matched only by Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.

Their importance to Arsenal’s play is evident. Only De Bruyne (24) has regained possession more times in the final third than Odegaard (21), while again only the City midfielder can match Saka’s tally of 16 chance created-ending carries – the term used to describe any time a chance is created after a player carries the ball.

Haaland destroying records as Man City chase

Erling Haaland

Looking to deny former assistant Arteta, Pep Guardiola and a Manchester City team bolstered by the arrival of Norwegian goal machine Haaland lead the chase as they pursue a fifth title in six seasons.

Many would have fancied former Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland to continue to find the net freely at City, but did anyone expect him to do quite this well?

He has already smashed a host of records in his short time in England and, with 22 goals in 18 league appearances already, it’s likely many more will fall.

The Premier League scoring record in a single season is 34 goals, while the record for a Premier League player across all competitions in a season is 44. Perhaps only Dixie Dean’s 1928 league record of 60 goals in a season remains out of reach.

A selection of the records already broken by Manchester City striker Erling Haaland this season: The first player to score in his first four away Premier League appearances; the youngest player to be involved in five goals in a Premier League match (three goals, two assists v Man Utd); six games taken to score 10 Premier League goals - the joint fewest, level with Mick Quinn; the first player to be directly involved in a goal in his first eight Premier League appearances; the most Premier League goals scored in first five Premier League appearances (eight).
Haaland’s eight Premier League games required to score three hat-tricks is 40 games quicker than Michael Owen’s previous record

Perhaps no stat better demonstrates Haaland’s devastating influence than this: He has scored one Premier League goal for every 20 touches of the ball. That’s the fewest touches per goal in the competition in a single season (covering all players with a minimum of 50 touches in a season).

It is that ruthless efficiency which has seen him score the most goals by a player in their first 10 Premier League games (15), and require the fewest games to reach 20 goals (14).

The 22-year-old has the biggest expected goals (xG) differential of any player, scoring 6.5 more goals than would have been expected so far this campaign. If top assister De Bruyne keeps on providing the service, expect Haaland to continue to fuel City’s title challenge.

And, ominously for leaders Arsenal, second-placed City are responsible for the two biggest title comebacks this century – triumphing from nine points behind in 2014 and 10 points back in 2019.

A tale of two transfers at Old Trafford

Cristiano Ronaldo, Casemiro

After a shaky start, the future is beginning to look bright for Manchester United under Erik ten Hag.

Since losing their first two games, no team has won more Premier League points than the Red Devils, and the abrupt high-profile departure of club great Cristiano Ronaldo in November has certainly not derailed the club’s on-field progress. In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

United’s win percentage with Ronaldo in the team this season was a measly 25%. Without him, that figure rises to 73.3%. They’ve averaged more goals scored, fewer goals conceded, and have taken an average of 2.3 points per game – compared with just one when he was present.

The upturn in form, which has moved them into the title picture, has coincided with the integration of £70m signing Casemiro.

United’s win percentage with Casemiro in the team is 66.7%, compared with 57% in the matches he missed, while their average goals conceded per game without the Brazil midfielder in the starting XI is two. With him, it’s 0.7 goals.

Among defensive midfielders, the 30-year-old has started the second-highest number of open play sequences resulting in a shot in the Premier League this season (23) despite not making his first start until 9 October.

He’s also won the second-highest number of duels (92), and made the second-highest number of tackles (49), while only two midfielders have regained possession on more occasions than Casemiro (94) since that first start.

The concern for United, eight points behind Arsenal, is how much they will miss their suspended midfield star against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday as they aim to keep alive their hopes of ending a decade-long title drought.

Newcastle’s lucky charm

Eddie Howe and Sven Botman

Although the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover has made Newcastle one of the world’s richest clubs, it has still taken Eddie Howe remarkably little time to turn them from relegation candidates to top-four challengers – and potentially more.

The Magpies’ 38 points after 19 games represents the club’s best start for 22 years – and the fifth-best in their top-flight history.

Their one defeat is a joint-best with leaders Arsenal, their 11 goals conceded is a league-low – and the fewest at this stage in the club’s entire top-flight history – while Nick Pope leads the way among goalkeepers with 11 clean sheets.

Their secret? Well, it may well be Botman.

The Dutch defender, 22, is yet to lose in the Premier League since coming into the team 17 games ago. That’s the most matches played in the competition’s history without ever losing.

Miguel Almiron averaged a goal every 883.6 minutes over the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns. This season he has scored every 176 minutes.

And what about Miguel Almiron?

The Paraguayan appears to have responded quite emphatically to Jack Grealish’s unprovoked pop at him last summer.

Almiron, who is proving a bit of fantasy football gem this term, has already equalled his total goal tally from his previous three Premier League seasons combined.

He reached nine goals after just 16 games in 2022-23 – despite taking 110 games to score his first nine. Take that, Jack.

So, Arsenal lead the way at the halfway mark, but who is going to be celebrating the title in May? Have your say below.