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The day’s best from Opta Joe; going behind the Premier League numbers

Britain Soccer Premier League

Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, right, celebrates with Ashley Young after scoring a goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road Stadium in Norwich, England Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

AP

Opta Sports provides the numerical insight for today’s Premier League action, and we provide the context:

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Where the “cause” begins and where the “effect” ends, or vice versa, is hard to say. But one thing is sure: none of this is one bit good for Jozy Altidore. He either missed a sitter today, or he got unlucky on a ball that caromed in too quickly for him to get a good look at it. Either way, he’s stuck on one goal for Sunderland this year.

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It’s tempting to still see Rooney as a striker, but those who watch a lot of Manchester United recognize how much more he can be when asked. Just like earlier this week, when he fell into a more defensive role in the midfield. Either way, Rooney’s passing and instincts in playmaking positions are surely useful.

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And people wonder why there are Manchester United conspiracy theories! (Seriously, Manchester United has good defenders, and they work hard around Old Trafford on the defensive side of the ball. But 76 matches? Come on!

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So City remains on pace to topple Chelsea’s record for most goals in a Premier League season. Chelsea’s 2008-09 side, driven by Didier Drogba, holds the record at 103 goals.

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I mean, Michael Bradley could not possibly hurt, right? Bradley is a thinking man’s midfielder, one also blessed with plenty of ability to maximize that sharp eye and keen sense of where to be on the field. He’s a terrific midfield organizer, and that means a lot in preventing goals – by turning back opportunities before they ever get the chance to become goals.

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And think about how close Tony Pulis’ team came to shutting out Manchester City at home. This is the same City side that smashes team regularly by multiple goals at the Etihad. Yes, City had about 106 percent of the possession today, but Palace limited the home team’s quality chances.

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And yet, the debate rages on about whether he has the stuff to play for Manchester City. See this post from earlier today.

Follow @SteveDavis90