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 15 December 2012

Newcastle v Man City        12:45           

Newcastle are in need of a win after losing five of their last six games, so the incentive of a visit from the reigning Champions may give them just the lift they need.

Hatem Ben Arfa scored a sensational equalizer in the last game against Fulham, while captain Fabricio Coloccini hit the post.

Danny Simpson has been in excellent form over the last two seasons, and did his best to get forward and provide chances for his team mates against Fulham by delivering more crosses than any player has in a single game this season with 13.

If one man can always be relied on to give his all for Alan Pardew’s team it’s Jonas Gutierrez. The Argentinian winger was once again top of the Newcastle distance charts against Fulham, running for a hard-earned 6.44 miles.

The importance of Demba Ba to the Newcastle cause should not be underestimated and the Magpies will be hoping to hang onto the striker in the upcoming transfer windows. Ba has scored 10 times for Newcastle in the league this season, with a solid conversion rate of 1 goal from every 3 attempts on target.

Fabricio Coloccini has been a rock for Newcastle at the back this season and his steady leadership has been complemented by an excellent total of 33 interceptions and 11 blocks.

Hatem Ben Arfa’s contribution to the Newcastle team going forward is always excellent, with the electric winger regularly striking fear into opposition defences with his close-control and vision. However the Frenchman could do with tweaking some aspects of his defensive play if he is to evolve into the complete midfielder many believe he can be. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s given away a foul every time he lost out in a challenge, having been pulled up 14 times by the officials this season.

Man City will be looking to bounce back after coming away empty handed from a heated Manchester derby last weekend. Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta were both on target for the blues but those goals weren’t enough to prevent a 3-2 defeat.

The Man City midfield will have been under strict instructions from Roberto Mancini to disrupt Utd’s flow in the midfield last weekend and despite the eventual defeat, Samir Nasri and Gareth Barry were clearly keen to take up the challenge. They were City’s joint hardest workers against the Red Devils, both running for 6.69 miles.

Yaya Toure’s gargantuan 682 passes completed in the opponent’s half this season has put clear daylight between himself and the rest of the league, with Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla his nearest rival with 658 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

It was a tense game for Carlos Tevez facing down his old club last weekend and a there were a couple of fiery moments from the dynamic Argentinian. Tevez has been flourishing at the Etihad this season though, already compiling a highly impressive 16 crosses and 10 assists.

David Silva’s return to the first team will be a welcome sight for many City fans, and the Spaniard is clearly keen to make up for lost time from earlier in the season. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s successfully completed a pass in his opponents half every 2.3 minutes, despite only playing 1036 minutes of football.

Liverpool v Aston Villa      15:00           

Liverpool came out 3-2 winners in their last game against West Ham, with Glen Johnson and Joe Cole both delighted to get on the score sheet while Jordan Henderson followed up a goal in the Europa League by forcing James Collins into an own goal for the winner.

Joe Allen was one of four players to break the 100 mile mark last weekend, taking his total to 101.33 miles in the Premier League this season, the third highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Glen Johnson’s goal means that he has now passed on the tag as the player to have had more shots at goal without scoring to his team mate Jonjo Shelvey. Shelvey has had 20 efforts at goal with 60% on target this season.

Steven Gerrard showed he still knows how to run a game against West Ham and his work rate was testament to that. He ran for 6.61 miles against the Hammer, a squad high on the day.

Youngster Raheem Sterling may still be finding his feet in the professional game, but his form so far this season indicates he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the most threatening players in the Premier League. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the 18 year old has already notched up 22 dribbles and 29 crosses, a great statement as to his self-belief.

Luis Suarez has been in electric form this season but could really use some help from his team mates when it comes to providing a consistent threat on goal. His 41 on target attempts on goal is almost double that of his nearest colleague, Steven Gerrard, with 22.

Aston Villa are just two points above the relegation zone after a 0-0 draw with Stoke in their last game.

Most of Villa’s chances fell to Christian Benteke how the striker was unable to convert any of them into what would have been a winner for Villa.

Benteke has been rightly garnering a lot of attention though for his performances this season and it’s easy to see why when one considers he solid accuracy in front of goal. He’s joint third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 31, with only 12 wayward shots not finding their way towards goal.

Ashley Westwood is another Villa player tipped for big things, and the 22 year old’s defensive play has been developing nicely with an excellent 88% success rate from his 16 challenges this season.

Having Matthew Lowton come through alongside him must also be of great help, with young defender also chipping in with an excellent 39 successful tackles, giving him a strong success rate of 85%.

Ron Vlaar continues to impress at the back for Villa this season. The Dutch defender has proved himself crucial to Villa’s efforts having compiled a 74% successful tackle rate, 33 clearances and 50 interceptions.

Man Utd v Sunderland      15:00           

Manchester United will be flying after emerging victorious from last weekend’s Manchester derby. Two goals from Wayne Rooney and a late winner from Robin van Persie sealed all three points and a six point buffer at the top of the Premier League table

Michael Carrick is often described as the Rolls Royce that makes the Man Utd team purr but his technical ability with the ball at his feet has been somewhat overshadowed by some defensive lapses. Only Rafael has conceded more fouls for Utd this season, with Carrick being pulled up by the officials 15 times.

Ashley Young’s form has been somewhat up and down since his return from injury but no one can doubt his desire or commitment against City last weekend. The England winger pushed himself further than anyone else on the field, running for 6.71 miles.

Brazilian defender Rafael’s development is continuing apace under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, and the youngster has been excelling in all areas of the game this season. His attacking play is particularly worthy of note, the defender having provider 17 crosses and 4 assists for his team mates and all before the turn of the year.

Robin van Persie continues to show what a fantastic decision it was by Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him to Old Trafford, as he his incredible form shows no sign of abating since leaving Arsenal. He is second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for attempts to goals ratio, with a place on the scoresheet coming once every 4.54 attempts this season.

Wayne Rooney has been challenged by his manager to start scoring more goals but all the other abilities he brings to the Man Utd side should not be overlooked. Only one other striker has provided more assists than Wayne, with England’s talisman currently sitting third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 7.

Sunderland are flying high after beating Reading 3-0 at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday. Goals from James McClean, Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon ignited a fine win for Martin O’Neill’s side and will have gone a long way to easing the pressure on their manager.

That was Sunderland’s second game in four days after they had fallen to a 3-1 defeat courtesy of Chelsea and a rejuvenated Fernando Torres. Despite the result Sunderland fans can feel positive about the excellent form of Adam Johnson who scored again against Chelsea.

James McClean continues to light up the Stadium of Light with his attacking ability, he’s provided 35 crosses this season for his team to latch onto, but he’s also more than willing to put in a shift and track back. He’s ran for 76.44 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

The signing of Steve Fletcher continues to prove to be a very smart acquisition by Martin O’Neill, the striker leading the line superbly since his arrival from Wolves. He’s already established himself as a solid scoring threat, with one coming every 3.71 attempts he has on goal.

Adam Johnson has been another crucial arrival for Sunderland, his creativity bolstering their midfield nicely. He’s provided a squad-high 4 assists and 40 crosses, a sign of what he can do when given an extended run in any team.

Sebastian Larsson achieved the distinction of being both Sunderland’s quickest player and their hardest worker against Reading. The Swede was recorded by the EA Player Performance Index travelling at 19.86mph and running for a solid 6.69 miles in total.

Norwich v Wigan    15:00           

Norwich have now gone an incredible nine games unbeaten in the Premier League after a dramatic 4-3 victory over fellow second season syndrome defiers Swansea.

Four different goalscroers showed the depth of attacking talent in the Norwich squad as Steven Whittaker, Sebastian Bassong, Grant Holt and Robert Snodgrass all struck, but the Canaries will need to tighten up defensively as their league cup defeat to Villa has made it 7 goals conceded in 2 games for Chris Hughton’s side.

Holt set the Premier League alight last season prompting calls for an England call up. This season Holt has quietly been going about his business scoring the goals to try and establish Norwich as a Premier League force, rather than a plucky newly promoted side. Holt has four goals from 25 efforts at goal with 56% on target this season. At this point last season Holt had 6 goals from 17 efforts at goal with 82.3% on target, so he will need to rediscover that form to keep Norwich in a tight mid table cluster which sees them four points away from a European spot and 7 points above the relegation zone.

John Ruddy is another Norwich player who excelled last season, earning himself the England number two slot behind Manchester City’s Joe Hart. The Canaries have missed the England stopper who is now out for three months. Prior to picking up that injury Ruddy had made 74 saves conceding 19 goals, at a rate of 3.89 saves per goal. Compare that to England number one Hart who has made 43 saves and conceded 14 at a rate of 3.07 saves per goal and Ruddy has been the busier, but more effective keeper this season.

Robert Snodgrass has made the transition from Championship to Premier League football seamlessly having joined from Leeds in the summer. Snodgrass has 3 goals and 3 assists to his name this season and has delivered 51 crosses, the 4th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index and more than established Premier League wingers such as Gareth Bale, Adam Johnson and Sebastian Larsson.

Wigan rescued a point against QPR thanks to two James McCarthy goals in their last outing, but remain just two points clear of the relegation zone

They were McCarthy’s first goals of the season, though a decent shots on target percentage of 68.4% from 19 efforts suggests that there may be more to come from the midfielder.

McCarthy has been at the heart of the Wigan engine room this season, and is ranked top at Wigan and 13th overall in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for distance run this season with 96.21 miles

It’s that work rate, combined with the 7th highest number of tackles won in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 38, which means opposition midfielders rarely have a quiet moment against Wigan.

McCarthy is one of four Wigan players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s Top 100 so far this season, along with Kone, Beausejour, and Emmerson Boyce

Beausejour is ranked 6th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for crosses delivered this season with 48 in total, contributing 5 assists

Taarabt: Finding his feet

QPR v Fulham          15:00           

QPR now hold the unwelcome record of the longest winless start to a Premier League season, but on the positive side are undefeated under Harry Redknapp with three draws since he took charge.

Ryan Nelson and Dijbril Cisse were both on target in their latest draw, a 2-2 tie with Wigan.

Adel Taarabt is as enigmatic a talent as they come, his form often dipping despite his undoubted ability. He appears to be finding his feet with QPR though, terrorizing defences this season with 16 dribbles

Harry Redknapp made it perfectly clear when he joined  QPR that he expected effort levels to rise significantly from his players and some of them have clearly took his words to heart. Stephane M’Bia in particular rose to the challenge last weekend, pushing himself to a 6.59 mile total.

Esteban Granero was perhaps a surprise signing for many R’s fans who nonetheless would have been delighted to see a player of his quality arrive at Loftus Road. However the Spanish midfielder has apparently been struggling to adapt to the defensive side of his work since his arrival in the summer, given his 50% success rate from 56 attempted challenges and 27 fouls.

Despite only playing 497 minutes of football this season, Nedum Onuoha has certainly contributed positively when he come on. He has a solid 79% tackle success rate and has only conceded 2 fouls.

Fulham had failed to score in five hours of football before Steve Sidwell put them ahead in their 2-1 victory over Newcastle on Monday night. Hugo Rodallega added a second heading in a Damien Duff free kick to earn the Cottagers a much needed victory.

Martin Jol played Dimitar Berbatov in a deeper role against Newcastle and the Bulgarian striker, often maligned for his work rate, responded by covering more ground than he has in any game this season with 5.95 miles.

The victory wasn’t easy, however, and veteran keeper Mark Schwarzer proved his worth once again making an incredible 13 saves in the game, the second highest by a keeper in a single game this season.

Steve Sidwell has always been willing to work hard for every team he’s been a part of and Fulham is no different. He racked up 6.71 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index whilst helping his team towards a crucial victory.

The 30-year old midfielder is also a crucial cog defensively in the Fulham team, given that he currently sits top of the EASPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles won with 51, complement a solid 60% overall tackle success rate.

Fulham captain Brede Hangeland is the model of consistency and was recently described as ‘the perfect pro’ by his manager Martin Jol. He’s been living up to this moniker this season too, his reading of the game enabling him to compile a remarkable 77 interceptions.

Stoke v Everton       15:00           

Stoke played out a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa in their last game in a game which created few chances, but continue to find themselves in touching distance of a European place

Hard graft has been the watch word at Stoke this season, and the Potter will on Saturday become the third team in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to break 1,000 miles run as a squad in Premier League games this season. They came within a whisker last weekend, taking their total to 999.58 miles this season.

They will need to face Everton without Ryan Shotton, who is suspended after receiving a red card against Villa. Shotton has had limited opportunities this season but has contributed defensively 31 times, including 11 interceptions and 10 tackles. That’s an average of one defensive duty every 14 minutes at 56 seconds on the pitch this season

Robert Huth, however, makes those stats look modest with a defensive contribution every 8 minutes 39 seconds, a huge 178 in total, the fifth busiest defensive player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index

That includes an impressive tackles won percentage of 68.75% from 48 attempted and a huge 104 interceptions, one of seven players who have turned over possession more than 100 times this season

Everton pulled off a fantastic comeback in their last game, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 against Spurs to win thanks to late goals from Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic

Jelavic is starting to look back to his lethal best which saw him make such an impact on the Premier League when he arrived at Everton in January. He now has six goals from 40 efforts in goal with exactly 50% on target. That’s an average 6.6 shots per goal or one every 222 minutes 10 seconds.

Compare that to last season though, and Jelavic scored 9 goals at an average of exactly 4 shots per goal and one every 112 minutes 13 seconds.

Steven Naismith has spoken this week of the difficulty he felt in making the same journey as Jelavic and leaving Rangers for Everton. Naismith has already shown himself to be similarly ruthless in front of goal to Jelavic, hitting 3 goals from just 9 efforts at goal this season

There was a fairy tale feel to Steven Pienaar’s goal against his former club starting the Everton comeback, and it was no less than should be expected after a fantastic start to the season from Pienaar. He is ranked 7th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed in his opponent’s half with 474 – more than Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata (472) and City’s midfield maestro David Silva (453)

At the other end of the pitch, Phil Jagielka has been in sensational form this season, allowing the midfielders in front of him to push on and add to Everton’s attacking threat. No other player has made more contributions to his team defensively, with Jagielka interrupting opposition play an incredible 194 times including winning 85.3% of 41 tackles attempted, making 28 clearances and a huge 112 interceptions

Sunday 16th December 2012

Come back to what you know: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Tottenham v Swansea       13:30           

Spurs will be hurting after surrendering a goal lead to then lose 2-1 against Everton on their last outing. Clint Dempsey had previously put Spurs ahead.

Gylfi Sigurdsson may have mixed feelings if he breaks his duck in front of goal against his former club. After a free scoring season at Swansea he has 20 shots without scoring this season for Spurs, and is now one of four players tied at the top in the rankings for most efforts without a goal this season

Sandro covered his second highest amount of ground of the season against Everton with 6.62 miles to edge himself into the top 20 players for overall distance run this season, taking his tally to 90.52 miles

Sandro has also won the second highest number of tackles this season with 45 tackles won, 62.5% of all those he has attempted

Dempsey’s goal was his third from Spurs, having had 24 shots at goal with 62.5% on target. Last season Dempsey covered more ground than any other player in the Premier League, and he has now covered more ground than any other Spurs player in four of their last eight Premier League games, and in the top two six times

Swansea played out a thrilling seven goal game against fellow second seasoners Norwich, but sadly ended on the wrong end of the 4-3 scoreline

Michu took his tally for the season to 12 and Jonathan de Guzman added a third, but the Swans were unable to take a point from the game

Michu is now clear at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts having netted 12 from 47 shots with a 57.4% on target rating

Angel Rangel was one of four players to break the 100 miles for the season barrier last weekend, taking his tally to 102.1 miles, the second highest total in the Premier League this season

Sung-Yeung Ki has been on great form since joining the Swans this summer, and last weekend completed more passes in the opposition half than any other player in the last round of games with 55

However, he will want to break his duck in front of goal soon as he is now one of four players tied on 20 shots at goal to register the most efforts without scoring this season

West Brom v West Ham     16:00           

After an incredible start to the season West Brom will be looking to get back to winning ways after three successive defeats and back to back games without scoring

November manager of the month Steve Clarke will look to his strikers to start scoring again to break the run of defeats. Shane Long has 5 goals this season from 21 efforts at goal, while Lukaku has 5 from 25 efforts. Between them they average 4.6 shots per goal, an impressive conversion rate on a par with Manchester United’s Robin van Persie who averages 4.54 shots per goal.

Youssuf Mulumbu has done as much as anyone to get West Brom’s season off the the start they need, covering more ground than any other Baggies player with 88.31 miles so far. Mulumbu has also completed 297 passes in the opposition half this season and made 45 interceptions.

Boaz Myhill may feel slightly aggrieved to have been beaten by two penalties against Arsenal. The former Birmingham stopper has been called in to cover Ben Foster in recent weeks and has averaged a save every 20 minutes, making 29 in total, while Foster made 55 saves averaging one every 18 mins 32 seconds.

Steven Reid will feel even more aggrieved after replays suggested there was no contact with Santi Cazorla for Arsenal’s first penalty. Reid has won 64.3% of tackles this season and averaged a defensive intervention every 12 minutes 13 seconds

West Ham, meanwhile, have had a good spell of form beating Chelsea and giving Liverpool a scare scoring five in their last two games. Mark Noble was on target from the penalty spot and Steven Gerrard was forced to head into his own net from a Matt Jarvis cross in the Hammers last outing.

As well as scoring from the spot, Noble covered more ground than any other player last weekend putting in a shift of 7.13 miles. That’s the third highest total by a West Ham player in a game this season.

Noble has shown a ruthless eye for converting scoring opportunities this season – his 3 goals have come from just 5 shots at goal, all of which have been on target. Only James Milner has had a better chance conversion (excluding players who have scored only one goal this season)

Noble has also excelled defensively, winning 43 tackles this season, the third highest by an individual player all season and 65.1% of all tackles attempted

Given the fantastic performances of Noble and Nolan this season some West Ham fans may be surprised to hear that Winston Reid is the highest ranked West Ham player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. The stats more than justify his high ranking though, as Reid has not only won 61.5% of the tackles he’s attempted this season but has also made 15 clearances, 68 interceptions and 13 blocks.

Monday 17th December 2012

Assist supremo McAnuff

Reading v Arsenal  20:00           

Reading have been playing catch up for much of the season after having their game against Sunderland delayed because of a water logged pitch. That game finally took place on Tuesday night, and while the result didn’t go in Reading’s favour now they have played the same amount of games as their Premier League rivals there are some interesting stats emerging about the Royals

Reading are now one of only two teams in the league to have covered over 1,000 miles this season. 64.71 miles covered against Sunderland takes them to 1,000.6 miles this season, a figure bettered only by fellow newly promoted side Southampton.

That charge has been led by Mikele Leigertwood and Jobi McAnuff who are now both in the top 20 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for distance covered this season with 95.25 and 91.36 miles respectively

Catching up on the game in hand means Reading players have moved up the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in other categories as well. Kaspars Gorkss is now ranked 15th for the most defensive contributions so far this season. Gorkss has won 63.2% of his 38 attempted tackles this season and made an impressive 84 interceptions.

Jobi McAnuff, meanwhile, is now ranked 8th for completed dribbles this season with 16 and is joint 4th for assists with 6. He also joins team mate Nicky Shorey in the top 5 for crosses delivered, with Shorey in 3rd with 53 crosses delivered and McAnuff 5th with 49. Norwich are the only other club to have two players in the top ten crossers of the ball.

Arsenal got a much needed three points courtesy of two Mikel Arteta penalties in their last outing against West Brom, but will need to bounce back from a disappointing league cup exit in midweek.

Arteta has worked tirelessly to turn around Arsenal’s fortunes this season, and last weekend was one of four players to break the 100 mile barrier for distance covered over the season, totaling 101.3 miles so far, the fourth highest total in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index

Arteta has also completed 626 passes in the opposition half this season, the third highest in the Premier League so far this season, just one place behind team mate Santi Cazorla who has completed 658

Cazorla and Arteta have continued to build a formidable midfield pairing, with Arteta dong the defensive work and Cazorla proving the greater threat at goal. Cazorla has had 51 efforts at goal 60.7% on target, compared to Arteta’s 11 efforts with 54.5% on target. Defensively these stats are reversed, with Arteta attempting 62 tackles compared to Cazorla’s 22.

Arsenal fans bemoaning a lack of killer finishing may point the finger at new summer signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski who between them have had 77 shots at goal and just 7 goals, averaging 11 shots per goal. However, with 41 of those shots on target the pair must surely feel that they are due a change in fortune soon.