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Stat Heaven: EA Sports Performance Index

Want to be the pub/terrace know-all this weekend? Want to know who has committed the most fouls? Or who has covered the most ground? Which player has provided the most crosses and who last week put in a true captain’s performance? Then read on and let the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index arm you with enough stats to impress everyone but girly girls.

Saturday 08th December

Arsenal v West Brom – 15:00

More pressure was piled on Arsene Wenger as his Arsenal side slumped to yet another league defeat, this time 0-2 at home to Swansea. Arsenal will be to regain some of their usual zip and fluidity this weekend against the Baggies.

Confidence breeds more confidence and with the way Santi Cazorla has started life at the Emirates, he has every reason to be having a crack at goal. He’s been backing this up with accuracy though, as he currently sits joint third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for attempts on target with 30.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Theo Walcott was Arsenal’s fastest player last weekend. The flying winger was recorded at 19.54mph, only just beaten by Swansea’s equally pacy Nathan Dyer at 20.51mph.

The Gunners appear to be retreating to some of their old tendencies of creating the openings but lacking the killer finish. Striker Olivier Giroud, despite a recent improvement in form, can still only manage a 49% accuracy rate from 39 attempts.

Mikel Arteta may be the Spanish timepiece that makes the Arsenal midfield tick, but he’s also displayed a lack of discipline in defence this season. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s compiled 31 fouls.

Arteta was unsurprisingly also the hardest runner last weekend against Swansea, clocking up 6.87 miles. The Spaniard remains the Gunner’s overall hardest worker this season, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index showing him covering 94.75 miles.

West Brom’s fine run of recent form lost some of it’s momentum last weekend as they fell to a 0-1 defeat at home to Stoke. The Baggies’ usual directness and flair with possession was stifled by a compact Stoke defensive unit, as, apart from a couple of instances, West Brom could not generate much by way of chances in either half.

Youssouf Mulumbu tried valiantly to conjure something for his side against Stoke, working hard for a team-high of 6.13 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Steve Clarke will be wanting to see more of Jonas Olsson’s intuitive reading of the game as the season continues to progress. The Swede has pulled off 73 interceptions so far this season.

Romelu Lukaku’s shooting statistics continue to provide impressive reading, the young Belgian being on target with 83% of his 24 attempted shots this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Defender Goran Popov showed that he has the speed to match any of the Premier League’s quickest strikers against Stoke. No one on the pitch could match his 21.9mph.

Crucial though he is to West Brom’s midfield, Claudio Yacob could do with tightening up some of his defensive work. The midfielder has fouled the opposition 29 times this season, 18 more than any of his other teammates.

Aston Villa v Stoke – 15:00

Aston Villa drew 1-1 with QPR last weekend, a first half goal from Brett Holman earning Paul Lambert’s side a point. The Villa manager may seek to reintroduce Darren Bent this weekend, given his recall to the bench against the R’s, to try and add some more clinical finishing to his side’s attack.

Christian Benteke has made a huge impact since his arrival at Aston Villa in August and his importance to Paul Lambert’s side can already not be understated. His 28 shots on target is the highest in the Villa squad this season, his nearest rival being Andreas Weimann with 12.

So much of Aston Villa’s defence now revolves around young Matthew Lowton, an unsurprising fact given that he brings so many attributes to the table. Not only is he Villa’s hardest working player this season, running for 85.43 miles, his tackle success rate is a quite remarkable 84% from 44 challenges.

Ashley Westwood usurped Lowton’s hardest-working player tag last time out though, running further than anyone on the pitch with 6.68 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan has been winning some well-deserved praise this season for his more mature approach to the game, one that is reaping some statistical rewards. He’s most Villa’s most successful passer of the ball with 198 completed in the opponent’s half.

Karim El Ahmadi time may have been limited under Paul Lambert so far this season but he would do well to tidy up his discipline whilst on the pitch. No Villa player has committed more fouls, El Ahmadi clocking up 20 at a rate of one every 47.3 minutes.

Ireland U21 international Derrick Williams should provide some healthy competition for places at the back for Villa, he was their quickest player last weekend as the EA SPORTS Player Performance picked him up travelling at 19.77mph.

Stoke put in a typically belligerent defensive performance against high-flying West Brom last time out, coming away with the victory thanks to a second half Dean Whitehead goal.

Robert Huth’s size belies an underlying knowledge of the defensive intricacies of the game, something he’s been regularly displaying for Tony Pulis’ side this season. He’s compiled an excellent 91 interceptions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Asmir Begovic keeps on reaffirming his place as one of the division’s top keepers with another shut out against West Brom. The Stoke stopper has made 84 saves this season, placing him second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, yet has only conceded 11 goals.

Jonathan Walters continues to represent Tony Pulis’ ‘grafter’ attitude to the game, as he remains Stoke’s hardest worker this season with 91.03 miles, unsurprising given that he’s topped their miles covered charts 7 times from 15 games.

Although Stoke have somewhat of a reputation for ‘Route 1’ football, this season has seen a notable change in the flair of their play, most likely due to the arrival of the likes of Charlie Adam. The technical midfielder has been moving the ball around plenty this campaign, racking up 22 crosses and 171 successful passes according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Lambert: Emerging as a striker of Premier League quality.

Southampton v Reading – 15:00

Southampton fell to another defeat against Liverpool on Saturday, as a Daniel Agger goal left them locked in the league’s bottom three. There was some positives for Nigel Adkins’ side to take away though, not least Rickie Lambert’s continuing emergence as a striker of Premier League quality.

Lambert has waited a long time for his shot in the Premiership and all the evidence points towards a steely resolve to grasp it with both hands. He’s notched up 6 goals this season and has certainly backed himself in front of goal, letting fly with 35 attempts on goal, 49% of which have been on target according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Young defender Nathaniel Clyne has been a massive part of the defensive efforts for the Saints this season. The 23 year old is the most successful tackler in the Saints’ squad, having coming out on top in 37 challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Luke Shaw has been billed by many in the know as one of the rising stars of the game and despite playing only 434 minutes this season, has already shown himself more than capable of holding his own at this level. The 17 year old has been successful with 79% of his 14 challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

It would be difficult to understate the importance of Adam Lallana to the Southampton cause at present. The dynamic midfielder has had 17 on targets attempts on goal, to sit alongside his 332 successful passes in the opponent’s half and 32 crosses.

Portuguese defender Jose Fonte continues to display an incredible knack for reading the game, having compiled a remarkable 95 interceptions this season. His intuition and tactical awareness sees him placed fifth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Reading played out a 7-goal thriller as they unluckily went down 3-4 at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. The Royals will have been desperately disappointed not to emerge with at least a point but there were plenty of reasons for Brian McDermott to be positive as he looks towards the rest of their season.

Reading defender Mikele Leigertwood will be looking to surpass his defensive rival Nathaniel Clyne in the defensive stats when the Royals clash with Southampton. The midfielder has made 36 successful tackles this season, just one behind Clyne according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Adam Le Fondre has been pressing hard for a regular run in the team with his limited time on the pitch this season. He’s scored 4 times, including last time out against Man Utd, where he was also his team third hardest runner with 6.41 miles.

The combative Jay Tabb has been carrying his Reading team forward with some of his performances and work ethic this year. Against Man Utd he achieved the distinction of being both his side’s hardest runner, with a mammoth 7.33 miles, as well as their quickest player, having been clocked at 19.71mph by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Keeping Kaspar Gorkss fit should be a key priority for Reading as we move towards 2013 given his contribution to the Royal’s defence this season. The Latvian defender has been successful with 63% of his 38 challenges and has also chipped in with a very impressive 84 interceptions.

Sunderland v Chelsea – 15:00

A solitary Craig Gardner goal will have provided scant consolation for Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland, on a day when they created plenty of chances but just couldn’t find their killer instinct in front of goal. The 2-1 defeat now leaves them precariously placed just above the drop zone, something the players will be keen to change this weekend.

James McLean is often vaunted for his skill moving forward but he’s not afraid to track back and help out at the other end of the park. He’s Sunderland’s most dominant defender this season, winning 34 challenges, giving him a 59% success rate according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Craig Gardner on the other hand has endured a mixed bag this season when it comes to his defensive efforts. Whilst he has lost out in 30 challenges, he’s also made 14 clearances and 58 interceptions, making a vital component of Martin O’Neill’s defence.

Adam Johnson’s creativity has been of huge value to Sunderland since his arrival from Man City. He’s produced an excellent return of 38 crosses and 10 dribbles this season.

John O’Shea is quietly proving himself to have been a solid acquisition for Sunderland, racking up 91 interceptions and 24 clearances for the Black Cats this season.

Although Stephane Sessegnon has apparently been unable to replicate his form from last season in this campaign, he’s lost none of his winger’s swagger in the process. His 18 dribbles mean he has taken the fight to the opposition ten times more than his next Sunderland team mate.

Yet more pressure was heaped on interim manager Rafael Benitez as Chelsea fell to another defeat, this time to West Ham at Upton Park. A beautifully taken goal from the influential Juan Mata was not enough to help the Blues take anything away from the game and one can imagine the fans will be pressing even harder for Benitez’s dismissal should they fail to win this weekend against Sunderland.

Mata proved again why he’s so highly valued at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, not just for his talent on the ball, but for his willingness to put in a shift at the heart of the Chelsea midfield. The Spanish wizard was Chelsea’s hardest worker against West Ham, running for 6.73 miles, a feat he has now achieved three times this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Fernando Torres has found himself as one of the key scapegoats for Chelsea’s poor lack of recent form, yet his statistics tell a different story. The Spanish front man has a 74% shooting accuracy rate from his 27 attempts on goal, a percentage only bettered by Romelu Lukaku when you take into account players who have had 20 shots or more.

Chelsea may have been suffering a dip in form in recent weeks but one man they can always seem to turn to when the heat is on is Petr Cech. He was certainly tested last time out against West Ham though, his 14 saves was the busiest any keeper has been in a league match this season.

Branislav Ivanovic’s strength on the ball can often mask the Serbian defender’s surprising turn of pace. He showcased all of it against West Ham though, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index clocking him at an impressive 20.24mph.

Ashley Cole seems to keen on showing the Chelsea brass what they would be missing should they let him leave in the summer when his contract expires. The 32 year old still has a very impressive defensive success rate of 79% from 28 challenges.

Staying power: Ashley Williams

Swansea v Norwich – 15:00

Two goals from Michu were enough to earn Swansea all three points at Arsenal last weekend. The Spaniard kept a level head to calmly tuck away his two opportunities. Nathan Dyer was the provider for the second, whilst Angel Rangel again looked lively, in what could well prove to be a defining win for Michael Laudrup’s team.

No two players have spent more time on the pitch this season than Swansea’s Angel Rangel and Ashley Williams. They rank 1st and 2nd respectively on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the defensive pairing having clocked up 2,904 minutes between them on the pitch this season.

Rangel could do with improving on some of his discipline though should he wish to add to this total. He’s also joint second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for yellow cards, having compiled 6 this campaign and been pulled up by the referee on 17 occasions.

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is deservedly grabbing plenty of the headlines at the moment with some eye-catching displays but people shouldn’t discount Swansea’s Michu performances. The Spaniard is joint top-scorer in the league this season with 10, alongside Suarez, Demba Ba and Robin van Persie, but has taken the fewest attempts on goal to get there with 39.

However, the Swansea midfielder’s accuracy rate surpasses all over his rivals at the top of the scoring charts. He’s been on target with 59% of his attempts according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Sung-Yeung Ki was Swansea’s hardest worker at the Emirates last weekend, racking up an impressive 6.63 miles.

Sebastian Bassong and Anthony Pilkington struck for the Canaries as they got past Sunderland 2-1 last weekend. Chris Hughton will be looking for his side to kick on this weekend and try to push into the top half of the table.

The consummate disrupter of the opposition, Bradley Johnson, put in the biggest shift of any Norwich player last weekend, running for a hard-earned 6.48 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Grant Holt and Johnson now hold the unwelcome distinction of joint 2nd on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for fouls, having racked up 62 fouls between them.

To add to his defensive woe, Holt is also second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles lost, having come out on the wrong side in 78% of his 49 attempted challenges.

One of last week’s goalscorers Sebastian Bassong, has been at the centre of everything good about Norwich’s defensive work this season. The defender has been throwing himself into his duties, literally, having chipped in 32 clearance this season, placing him fourth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Anthony Pilkington’s speed is often what helps him to get into dangerous positions and he again showcased his fleetness of foot against Sunderland. He was Norwich’s quickest player, having been clocked at 19.51mph by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Midfielder Robert Snodgrass is quickly establishing himself as one of the most consistent providers of opportunities in the league given that he’s currently sitting third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for crosses with 47.

Wigan v QPR            15:00           

After starting the season in fine form Wigan come into this game after back to back defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Newcastle United. They will be without defender Maynor Figueroa whose red card and penalty early on against Newcastle set the Latics on the road to defeat.

Figueroa has been on excellent form this season, winning 36 tackles so far, the 7th highest in the league, though he has lost out on 28 attempted tackles making a tackles won percentage of 56%.

Figueroa is also ranked 4th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for interceptions with 97 so far this season.

Midfielder James McCarthy has also been one of the stand out defensive players of the season. McCarthy has contributed more defensively than any other midfielder in the league with 66 tackles attempted (with 54.5% won), 16 clearances, 65 interceptions and 3 blocks.

Arouna Kone has been in dangerous form for Wigan this season, and has completed the second highest number of dribbles behind Luis Suarez. Kone has completed 18 dribbles in total, the same number as Spurs and Wales star Gareth Bale, widely recognized as the one of the world’s best players on the ball

QPR are still looking for a first win under new manager Harry Redknapp, having drawn both games since he took charge. Jamie Mackie scored the equalizer for QPR against fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa.

Shaun Wright-Phillips hit the post in that game and was also denied by Bradley Guzan as the winger showed signs of a return to top form. Wright-Phillips has struggled for opportunities at goal this season, illustrated by the fact that he has attempted more tackles

Clint Hill also hit the woodwork for QPR and the R’s battled to turn their dominance in to goals. Hill has been busy at the other end of the pitch this season, winning 55.6% of the 27 tackles he has attempted and also contributing 16 clearances, 19 interceptions and 7 blocks

There are signs that Harry Redknapp is bringing out the best in talented QPR midfielder Adel Taraabt, as Taraabt completed 50 passes in the opposition half against Villa, more than any other player in the last round of games

Ryan Nelson has called for a renewed effort from his QPR team mates to avoid the drop this season. Nelson himself can’t be faulted for putting his body on the line, having made the second highest number of blocks this season with 18.

Rooney has a better accuracy rating than any other Manchester striker this season.

Sunday 9th December

Man City v Man Utd           13:30           

The Manchester derby is one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures in the Premier League calendar, and this year’s see Manchester United go in with a three point advantage over the reigning Premier League champions

United will go in with mixed emotions after winning a thrilling seven goal encounter with Reading in their last game, which saw United win 4-3. Goals from Rooney, Anderson, and van Persie will give them a lift, but Sir Alex Ferguson has said his side will need to tighten up defensively against City.

United will also need to recover from what was a physically demanding game and a mid week Champions League fixture. United were forced to cover more ground as a team against Reading than they have in any other game this season, clocking up 66.29 miles between them. That included 6.96 miles by Rooney, the second highest by an individual United player (after Rooney’s own record of 7.03 miles)

Van Persie’s goal was his tenth of the season making him the Premier League’s joint top goal scorer. Interestingly, of the four players who share that position van Persie has needed the second fewest shots at goal to net his ten goals. Van Persie has needed 46 shots to hit double figures for goals, while Suarez has needed 80, Ba 53, and Michu just 39.

Rooney’s goal was his fourth of the season as he adapts to playing alongside van Persie. Rooney has 4 goals in 11 games now this season having has 35 shots at goal with 65.7% accuracy, the best percentage on target rating of any of United or City’s strikers. Rooney’s team mate Chicarito, meanwhile, has the best shots per goal ratio of any of the strikers that might take to the field today, needing just 3 shots for each goal.

At the problem end of the pitch, it’s an indication both of United’s difficulties in fielding the same players in a consistent back four that Rafael da Silva has contributed more defensively than any other United player. Da Silva has attempted 44 tackles, winning 24, and made 13 clearances, 22 interceptions and 1 block.

City, meanwhile, remain the only unbeaten team in the league this season after a tough 1-1 draw against Everton.

A Tevez penalty earned by Edin Dzeko was enough to earn a point in the race for the Premier League table. Tevez now has 7 goals so far this season at a rate of one every 152 minutes and 17 seconds and 6.7 shots per goal.

City will be looking at their defensive strength to win out on Sunday, City have conceded just 11 goals compared to United’s 21.

City coach David Platt has hailed the form of Serbian teenager Matija Nastasic since coming into the side. Nastasic has averaged a defensive contribution once every 19 minutes and 16 seconds including 12 attempted tackles, 5 clearances, 12 interceptions and 4 blocks.

City captain Vincent Kompany has been integral to that, contributing 107 defensive interventions so far this season, including 50 attempted tackles with 52% won, 19 clearances, 33 interceptions and 5 blocks. Impressive figures given City’s dominance of possession means opposition attacks are often limited.

The possession battle on Sunday will be key, revolving around the key playmakers for each side: Yaya Toure and Michael Carrick. Toure has completed more passes in the opposition half than any other player in the league, with 657, averaging one every 2 minutes and 12 seconds. His opponent on Sunday Michael Carrick has completed 518, averaging one every 2 minutes 38 seconds. The pair sit first and fourth respectively in the EA SPORTS Player Performance for the number of passes completed in the opposition half.

Toure and Carrick are beaten in the table for minutes per pass completed by their team mates Paul Scholes and Samir Nasri, however. While Scholes and Nasri have played fewer minutes than Toure and Carrick their frequency of pass completion is better, with the evergreen Scholes still the best in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with Nasri second. Scholes completes a pass in opposition territory once every 1 minute 53 seconds (the only player to break the 2 minutes per pass barrier) while Nasri does so every 2 minutes and 5 seconds.

Everton v Tottenham        15:00           

Everton earned a point against reigning Premier League champions Man City in their last outing, with Marouane Fellaini continuing to grab the headlines this season by both scoring for Everton and conceding the penalty that allowed City to equalize.

That was Everton’s third 1-1 draw in a row, and their eighth score draw so far this season including seven in their last nine games.

Fellaini’s goal was his eighth of the season from 42 shots at goal with exactly two thirds on target. That makes Fellaini a more accurate marksman this season than players including Robin van Persie (56% on target), Luis Suarez (51% on target) and Jermain Defoe (62% on target).

As well as scoring the opener, Fellaini went on to become the first Everton player this season to top 7 miles in a match. He has covered 82.46 miles so far this season, more than any other Everton player.

Everton have two of the twenty outfield players to have played more than 1400 minutes in the Premier League this season. Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka have been ever presents for Everton this season and despite keeping just two clean sheet this season the pair have been on impressive form.

Jagielka has made the fifth highest number of defensive interventions in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 171 in total, across with 37 tackles attempted and an incredible 83.8% of those won. Add to that an incredible 95 interceptions, 26 clearances, and 13 blocks and Jagielka has made a defensive contribution every 8 minutes and 28 seconds.

Spurs rise up the Premier League table continues as they beat Fulham 3-0 in their last game, with goals from Jermain Defoe and Sandro moving them up to fourth.

Defoe has nine goals so far this season, just one short of the Premier League’s top goalscorers. He has had 55 shots at goal this season with 58.1% on target.  Only Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has had more shots at goal with a huge 80 shots. Suarez has averaged 8 shots per goal compared to Defoe’s 6.1 shots per goal, showing the value that Defoe’s finishing prowess has to his team.

Sandro has been in dominant form in recent games, and as well as scoring against Fulham he has covered more ground than any other Spurs player in three of their last four outings, taking his total for the season to 83.9 miles, more than any other player.

Michael Dawson went off injured in the game against Fulham to continue a frustrating season for the Spurs defender. Dawson has played just 291 minutes this season but has contributed 7 won tackles, 8 clearances, 36 interceptions and 3 blocks. That makes a defensive intervention every 5 minutes and 11 seconds, the best in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Gareth Bale continues to dominate the sports pages as the Welsh international has earned himself both comparisons with Ronaldo and the support of Spurs legend David Ginola in the last week.

Bale has six goals in the Premier League this season, and the third highest number of shots at goal with 53.

Tough tackling Marouane Fellaini may meet his match in Spurs defender Jan Verthonghen. Verthongen has grown in stature throughout the season and has now won 39 tackles, the second highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Even more impressively, he has won 75% of all his tackles so far this season.

Diame blasts the Hammers’ second last weekend.

 

West Ham v Liverpool       16:00           

West Ham produced an incredible second half performance to win 3-1 against Chelsea in their last game.

Goals from Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Mobido Maiga secured three points in a game which could have seen the Hammers score even more, as they gave Petr Cech the busiest game a goalkeeper has had all season, forcing him into 14 saves.

West Ham fans will be hoping that three different goal scorers against Chelsea is a sign of things to come as previously to that game only Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble had scored more than once this season for the Hammers.

Diame in particular will be grateful for the goal, as his return is now two goals from twenty efforts at goal, a healthier looking return than one goal from eighteen shots, as his stats were before the game against Chelsea.

The game will also see two of the league’s hardest working midfields up against each other. 13 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index have covered 90 miles or more so far this season and four are on display in this game. West Ham are represented by Mark Noble (90.65 miles) and Kevin Nolan (92.46 miles) while Steven Gerrard (92.63 miles) and Joe Allen (94.98 miles) feature for Liverpool.

West Ham’s defence know they will be in for a busy afternoon against Liverpool, with Luis Suarez having hit 80 shots at goal so far this season, an incredible 25 shots more than the next highest ranked player for shots at goal, Jermain Defoe. Key to containing him will be West Ham defender James Collins who has an impressive tackles won percentage of 73.5% and interceptions tally of 49.

Liverpool beat Southampton 1-0 in their last Premier League outing with Daniel Agger heading in from a Glen Johnson cross.

Johnson’s assist was his second of the season, and the attacking minded full back clearly has designs on the opponent’s goal, as he has now had more shots at goal without scoring than any other player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 21 shots at goal.

Joe Allen will be hoping that the return of Lucas Leiva will allow him to push forward in attack. Allen shares a similar frustration to Johnson in that he has completed the highest number of passes in his opponent’s half without being credited an assist in the league this season. Allen has found a team mate in opposition territory 358 times this season.

West Ham will have to be wary of diving in on Liverpool and conceding fouls. The Anfield club have two of the top three players in the league for dribbles completed in Luis Suarez (34) and Raheem Sterling (21).

Luis Suarez and Jonjo Shelvey both hit the woodwork against Southampton as Liverpool pushed to increase their lead. Shelvey has cemented his place in Brendan Rodgers plans this season with some stand out performances. He is yet to score in the league this season, but it’s surely only a matter of time as he has now had 17 shots at goal with 64.7% on target.

 

Fulham v Newcastle          20:00           

Fulham will be looking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Spurs in their last game

Steve Sidwell will be key to disrupting Newcastle’s play and winning possession for Fulham. Sidwell has impressed so far this season and has won more tackles than any other player with 47, winning 61% of all attempted.

Add to Sidwell’s tackling prowess the fact that defender Aaron Hughes has the third highest number of interceptions of any player in the league with 103 so far and Newcastle will find that Fulham are not an easy team to break down.

In fact, Fulham have three of the top twenty busiest defensive players in the league (only Wigan have more with four). Along with Hughes’ 155 defensive contributions this season and Sidwell’s 143, Brede Hangeland has stepped in defensively 135 times this season. That is broken down as 31 attempted tackles, 18 clearances, 77 interceptions and 9 blocks.

Perhaps the most surprising stat to come out of analyzing Fulham’s defensive work is that Dimitar Berbatov has contributed more defensively than any other striker in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, including 25 tackles attempted, 12 clearances and 34 interceptions.

Newcastle, on the other hand, were on the positive side of a 3-0 scoreline in their last game against Wigan, with two goals from joint league top scorer Demba Ba and a stunning first goal from Gael Bigirimana. That ended a run of four straight defeats for the Magpies.

Ba is now on ten goals for the season, tied with Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez and Miguel Michu in the race for the golden boot. Ba has taken 53 shots at goal to score his 10 goal, but has managed to get less than half on target (49%).

It’s no surprise therefore that Ba is Newcastle’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. However, his team mates will need to start matching him as he is the only Magpies player in the top 100.

Newcastle’s next ranked player is Davide Santon, who has won 25 tackles this season, 61% of all those attempted. He’s also made 14 clearances, 41 interceptions and 2 blocks for the Newcastle cause.

Danny Simpson is out of contract in the summer and has stated his desire to remain at the club.  Simpson’s season has been disrupted by injury, but he has still managed to contribute 15 clearances and 29 interceptions while winning 73.3% of tackles attempted. Meaning he has made a defensive contribution every 14 minutes 22 seconds this season.

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