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Their days may be numbered, their shirts are not – Chelsea stars face an uncertain future

The Premier League is approaching a historic age: on August 15 the competition will turn 30, with the date finally ushering in a golden era for English football.

Although we are 10 days away from that particular stage, Friday sees the final edition of the Premier League kick off with Crystal Palace and Arsenal playing the opener of the 2022-23 campaign at Selhurst Park.

As such, it seems fair to take the plunge a bit and look back on the first 30 years of what many believe has become the biggest league in world football.

So buckle up as Stats Perform takes you on a trip down memory lane…

Manage expectations

This is classic ‘pub quiz’ territory: which manager has chaired the most Premier League games?

You know it’s either Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, right? You probably end up going for the Manchester United icon because of his longevity.

Alas, you would be wrong.

Wenger took charge of 18 more Premier League games (828) than ‘Fergie’ before ending his long career at Arsenal.

Nonetheless, Ferguson’s 13 titles seem unlikely to ever be matched. His closest rival in that regard is Pep Guardiola (four), with Wenger joined at three by Jose Mourinho.

Play, player

In the first 30 Premier League seasons, 4,488 players have appeared in the competition with an average of 149.6 debutants per campaign.

If we ignore the inaugural season for obvious reasons, the campaign with the most debutants was 2015-16 when 162 players made their Premier League bows.

Of the nearly 4,500 people to take part in the competition, Gareth Barry is clearly with the most appearances (653), the last of which came in the 2017-18 season with West Brom.

It’s a record that will take time to break, but if anyone has a chance to topple it, it’s his former Manchester City team-mate James Milner.

The 36-year-old, now from Liverpool, is fourth on the all-time list with 588 outings.

forever Young

Everyone loves a ‘Wonderkid’. The Premier League has seen more than its fair share over the years, and some started very, very young.

Mark Platts was the first 16-year-old to play in the Premier League when he made his debut for Sheffield Wednesday in February 1996.

When Matthew Briggs arrived 11 years later and played for Fulham at 16 years and 68 days old, you would have been forgiven for thinking his record would stand the test of time.

It went on for 12 years until another Fulham player shaved 38 days off Briggs’ record – that player was Harvey Elliott. Now at Liverpool, the young midfielder looks set for a stellar career.

The name of the game

Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, Wayne Rooney – when you think of Premier League goalscorers, these are probably the names that immediately come to mind.

Well, you are wrong. You should think of Andrew Johnson, Glen Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Bradley Johnson, Roger Johnson et al.

Why? Because more players with the Johnson surname have scored in the Premier League than any other surname.

There have been 21 to be exact, two more than the Williams clan.

Synonymous.

Go to points

It’s been a frustrating few (nine?) years for Man United fans, but don’t worry folks, if you just look at the big (massive) picture, everything will definitely feel a whole lot better.

United still top the overall Premier League table with 2,366 points, giving them a healthy cushion of 225 points over second-placed Arsenal.

Manchester City may have won four of the last five league titles, a feat only United had achieved before them in the Premier League, but the real story is that they are way behind on 1,629 Premier League points.

Yo-yo with the current

To be fair, almost every one of you knows what’s coming up here.

You guessed it, Norwich City’s relegation last season makes them the most yo-yo (yes, we just made it up) club in Premier League history.

It was their sixth relegation to go with their five promotions to the top flight since 1992, taking them a distance from West Brom, who have the same number of promotions but only five demotions to their name.

I like goals, goals, goals, goals

Of course, Shearer remains the Premier’s League’s all-time leading goalscorer with 260, 52 ahead of second-placed Wayne Rooney.

But Harry Kane appears to have a chance to usurp the two English greats – in fact, another solid season could take him past 200 as he enters the 2022-23 campaign on 183.

Kane is also among the best goalscoring combinations in the history of the competition as he and Son Heung-min have combined for 41 goals, five more than Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard as second best.

When it comes to high-scoring games, there have been three Premier League games that ended with a nine-goal margin – two were by Man United (9-0 against Southampton in February 2021 and against Ipswich Town in March 1995) and Leicester City did it in October 2019, also thrashing Saints 9-0.

call it a comeback

Your team is down 2-0, you are discouraged and hopeless. But then, out of nowhere, you have a goal in return. Then the equalizer. And then, just when you’ve convinced yourself that “this draw looks like a win”, a third comes in, and it’s pandemonium.

There are few more satisfying situations in football than when your team produces such a turnaround – the desperation you felt earlier only makes your full-time jubilation that bit more intense.

The biggest turnarounds that have led to wins, with all teams involved coming back from three goals. Leeds United, Wimbledon and Wolves all managed to secure 4-3 wins, while Man United beat Spurs 5-3 to 3-0.

No team has done so since Wolves in October 2003, although Newcastle United certainly deserve a special mention – they are the only team to find themselves 4-0 down and avoid defeat. Their 4-4 draw with Arsenal in February 2011 remains a Premier League classic.

Stop the clock!

Here’s another one for pub quiz fans: who scored the fastest goal in Premier League history?

After just 7.69 seconds in an April 2019 game between Southampton and Watford, Shane Long opened the scoring to break a 19-year record which was set by Spurs defender Ledley King.

To put that into context, it would take you longer to read that sentence. He was also faster than Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100 meters (9.58 seconds).

The last all-time goal may be a less notable record, but it nonetheless belongs to Bruno Fernandes, who in September 2020 scored a penalty after 99 minutes and 45 seconds to seal United a dramatic 3-2 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion – yes, this is the game when the Seagulls hit the woodwork a record five times.

As for the fastest hat-trick, it was scored by Sadio Mane for Southampton against Aston Villa in May 2015, with his first and third goals separated by just two minutes and 56 seconds.