Chelsea v Arsenal shows Premier League action still draws eyeballs

The excitement of last week’s first Premier League matchday was always going to be difficult to equal for the second round of games.

The first time is always be unforgettable, but the second for this season’s campaign kicked-off with a 0-0 on Saturday lunchtime between Cardiff City and Newcastle United. It did get better though: that evening’s cracker at Stamford Bridge which saw Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea overcome Unai Emery’s Arsenal in the battle of the new managers was followed by an in-form Manchester City regale us with goals and Brighton and Hove Albion shock Manchester United.

Looking at the numbers and the engagement rates for each club and each game’s official hashtag, IQUII Sport’s data shows that the biggest talking points of the second matchday were exactly what we expected, but they also show that Premier League football doesn’t just peak with the first matchday and then fall off a cliff.

No, after the excitement of opening weekend, the big fixtures kept on coming.

The most exciting game of the weekend happened to be the biggest game. At Stamford Bridge top six rivals Chelsea and Arsenal ended up a 3-2 thriller, and was the most tweeted game of the weekend to boot, putting the others into the shade. With more than 38,000 tweets over the weekend using the official hashtag for the game, #CHEARS, it was comfortably ahead of second-placed game, Manchester United v Brighton, which clocked just under 23,000.

Indeed, last week, when you’d think that excitement levels would have been higher, Manchester United v Leicester (the very first game of the season) was the most tweeted-about game of the weekend. But that game attained only just under 31,000 posts on the same social media platform. Naturally, the game involving two top six teams drew the bigger audience this time around, but it shows that it wasn’t just excitement for the new season on show last weekend.

That’s borne out in the players who were the most popular on the platform this weekend. Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata were the most-mentioned Premier League players on Twitter. Last week, it was Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw. Maybe that’s to be expected as each time it’s clear that goalscorers and matchwinners are the players generating the interest, but at the same time it shows that people are reacting to what’s happening in front of them, not necessarily to the ongoing narratives of the Premier League soap opera. Despite all of the supplementary content around football these days, it’s interesting (and maybe a relief) that the live action is still king.

As always, though, the headline numbers are often vanity metrics. The biggest clubs have the most fans, the most followers, and they’re also on TV – so of course they’re going to generate the most interest. But that’s when we dig down a bit deeper into the numbers.

Last week, IQUII’s data showed that newly-promoted Wolves had the most engagement of any Premier League team on their tweets on opening weekend. We wondered if that was just because of the novelty of Premier League football and the excitement the fans of a young and hungry team had towards their club. This week, Wolves kept that engagement rate high for a second week in a row – even if they were pipped to top spot this week by Watford, a side whose fan base is also buoyant after two wins in a row to start the campaign.

It’s easy to point to the big teams and laud the massive numbers they can generate, and it’s also great to see which matches reached the most eyeballs. But it’s also important to see which clubs have the most engaged fans and despite lacking the astronomical numbers of the top teams, Wolves and Watford still had a great weekend on social media for the second week running.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 731 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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