Premier League stats: Why Watford's win over Liverpool might be Premier League's biggest ever upset

By Harry PooleBBC Sport
Left to right: Ismaila Sarr, Mohamed Salah, Roy Hodgson, Marcos Alonso
There were rather mixed fortunes across a rare 29 February Premier League fixture list

Watford upset the odds to bring an end to Liverpool's stunning 44-game unbeaten run on Saturday, overhauling an almighty points difference while also contributing to leap year day history.

The quadrennial appearance of 29 February on the calendar will certainly be remembered more fondly by some than others, while we also need to discuss Roy Hodgson's freakish consistency - and should Marcos Alonso be playing up front for Chelsea?

BBC Sport takes a look at the weekend's key Premier League statistics.

Leap year day a step too far for Liverpool

Arsenal breathed a rather large sigh of relief on Saturday - the club itself tweeting "phewexternal-link" - as Liverpool fell five games short of matching the Gunners' top-flight record 49-game unbeaten run.

Not many would have seen that run ending at strugglers Watford, who began the match 55 points behind Jurgen Klopp's leaders before inflicting a 3-0 defeat.

That's the heaviest loss suffered by a side top of the table against one in the relegation zone since 1985, when Leicester beat Manchester United by the same scoreline.

But it's also the biggest points deficit a side has ever bridged to win a Premier League game, bettering 1-0 wins for West Ham and Wigan over Manchester United by four points. West Brom also won 1-0 against a United side 50 points better off in 2018, while Sunderland beat Chelsea when 49 points behind in 2014.

The result leaves the Reds winless in three top-flight 29 February fixtures, after two draws and now also a defeat since beating Leeds 1-0 in 1956. While one ever-so-slightly more meaningful wait appears to be over for Liverpool, this particular one is set to clock at least 68 years.

It was, however, a significantly better day for Crystal Palace, who became the first side to win on a leap year day in Premier League history.

A 1-0 victory at Brighton in Saturday's early kick-off was, granted, just the third game to be played in the competition on 29 February - but after games between Leeds and Liverpool (2-2) and Portsmouth and Newcastle (1-1) ended level in 2004, the Eagles seized their chance.

Watford later surpassed West Ham's 3-1 win over Southampton with their stunning victory to boast the Premier League's biggest leap year day win - and the biggest on the date in the top flight since Sheffield Wednesday won 3-0 at Chelsea 28 years ago in the last season of the First Division.

That also leaves Hodgson, David Moyes and Nigel Pearson as the only managers to record wins in this niche chapter of the Premier League history books. It remains to be seen if anyone will be handed a shot at history on Thursday, 29 February, 2024.

Hodgson's 100 highlights remarkable consistency

It was a big day for Crystal Palace boss Hodgson as he brought up his century of top-flight games in charge of the Eagles - the first time the 72-year-old has reached 100 games at a Premier League club, having departed Fulham for Liverpool six games short of the landmark in 2010.

Hodgson has won 34 of his 100 Palace games, drawing 27 and losing 39, with only eight sides taking more points in the top flight than the Eagles (129) since Hodgson's appointment on 12 September, 2017.

However, his average of 1.29 points per game at Palace also highlights his remarkable level of consistency after a total of 316 Premier League games over spells at five clubs.

At Blackburn, Fulham, Liverpool, West Brom and currently with Palace, Hodgson's win percentage sits firmly in the confines of 34.04% to 36%, while his points per match record with Palace is also an exact mirror of his overall Premier League average after a total of 109 wins, 81 draws and 126 defeats.

Sustained over a regular 38-game top-flight season, that 1.29 points-per-game average would deliver a sturdy 49 points - the exact number Palace finished on last season.

And, what's that? Palace require 13 points over their final 10 games to match last season's tally? You're spoiling us, Roy.

Alonso, the league's free-scoring defender

It was Alonso to the rescue for Chelsea against Bournemouth on Saturday, as the left-back's two well-taken goals earned Frank Lampard's side a 2-2 draw.

The Spaniard, who now has three goals in two league games, has scored 19 during his time in the Premier League - the most of any defender in the competition since he signed from Fiorentina in September 2016.

He's also registered more shots (173) and more shots on target (52) than any other top-flight defender, while his impressive finishing means he has outperformed his expected goals total (xG) by seven.

Wolves' Matt Doherty and Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, both also on four, are challenging Alonso for the top-scoring defender crown this campaign, but only Crystal Palace's Patrick van Aanholt (16) comes close to Alonso's tally since 2016.

Meanwhile, Alonso's double on Saturday brought about the first Premier League draw between the Cherries and Chelsea in what was their 10th meeting.

That run, however, is not quite Everton v Fulham, which saw 18 consecutive meetings without a draw between 2001 and 2010 - while Manchester United against Wigan stands at 16 drawless top-flight fixtures. One to keep an eye on.

Goal-shy Magpies relying on shutouts

Finally, Alonso's three goals in two league games are as many as Newcastle have managed since 18 January.

With just 24 league goals - the lowest in the division - the Magpies failed to score for a fourth successive league game in a 0-0 home draw with Burnley on Saturday - the first goalless draw between the sides in 52 games since 1953.

That was Newcastle's seventh goalless draw since the start of last season, which is the most of any Premier League side in that time, one ahead of both Crystal Palace and Watford.

"We have the best defensive record at home," manager Steve Bruce said after the game. "I'm sure hundreds of supporters will say we don't score enough - and therein lies our Achilles heel."

He's not wrong.

Scoring 66 top-flight goals and conceding 89 since the start of last season, Newcastle have been involved in the fewest number of goals of any Premier League side.

Only Brighton, with 67, rival the poor attacking returns of Bruce's side, whose defensive resilience - along with Martin Dubravka's impressive league-high save count of 112 in 28 games - could once again prove their saving grace.

Reacting to Saturday's result, club legend Alan Shearer voiced his frustration with Newcastle "desperate for someone to stick the ball in the net" despite spending "massive money" on forwards.

With a record 260 goals in 441 Premier League appearances, oh how Bruce could do with Shearer now.