This season’s Super Sunday matches have failed to live up to their own name. Once reserved for the biggest and most anticipated fixtures of the weekend, so far this season’s games have boring and goals have been scarce. By Gregor Kerr
Last Sunday saw Burnley grab an impressive, yet rather turgid win away to Everton, with little atmosphere, intensity, or action throughout the match. Much was the same at St James’ Park later that afternoon as Liverpool and Newcastle played out a drab 1-1 draw. Both matches had an air of similarity to most of the Sunday games this season, which is an overwhelming sense of boredom.
The exact same could be said of Newcastle United’s visit to Brighton a week earlier; a tight game decided by a second-half goal from the Seasiders, or Chelsea and Arsenal’s supposed “Battle of The Giants” a week earlier, a goalless affair in which almost literally nothing happened except for a late red card for David Luiz, who seemed just as keen as the fans to wrap up the match.
Games like these have occurred too often already this season, with the once anticipated Sunday meetings now becoming a bit of a running joke amongst football fan. But is it really boring compared to the traditional Saturday football fix?
When comparing games this season across both days of the weekend, I found that Saturday Premier League matches have averaged 2.5 goals per game, higher than that of Sunday fixtures, which have averaged 2.19 goals per game in the 2017/18 season so far. Also, in the seven matchdays this season, Saturday has averaged more goals per game than Sunday on five occasions.
Of course, in some instances this lethargy can be labelled down to European efforts earlier in the week for those teams in the upper tier of the Premier League. This applies particularly to clubs in the Europa League, who find league matches pushed back to a Sunday after Thursday night European fixtures. Everton, who are competing in the competition this season, have failed to score a single goal in Sunday games on three instances. The statistic is similar with Arsenal, who have found the back of the net just twice in the same amount of Sunday fixtures. Clubs certainly seem to experience some form of a Europa League hangover.
The overload of fixtures can also take its toll on fans. With so many matches being played it can be expensive for supporters to attend, affecting attendances which can have a knock-on effect on atmospheres and the team itself. The FA could of course find a way to ease the strain on clubs such as Arsenal and Everton by moving their matches to a Monday night, but with the constant demand for live televised matches, it would prove a painful task.
One factor to consider is that, historically, Sunday is not typically a ‘football day’. Quite often fans complain about matches being rescheduled to Sunday, as Saturday is when football matches, certainly domestically, are traditionally played. With Sunday seen as the day of rest, it is realistic to imagine that footballers may not entirely be inspired for matchday also.
It could also be down to the importance of the matches which are usually arranged for Sundays; with neither side eager to give their opponents any inch, leaving potentially mouth-watering clashes as mind-numbing viewing. Perhaps clubs are keener to secure vital points with more rigid, yet effective football, rather than playing expansive football which may be more satisfying on the eye, but risks the chance of being more vulnerable.
This Sunday sees Everton, who will play in their fourth Sunday fixture of the year, take on Brighton in a fight at the bottom of the Premier League table. Later in the day, Southampton, who are yet to thrill any audience this year, host resurgent Newcastle. It will be interesting to see whether the usual pattern of this season continues.