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 23rd February
Fulham v Stoke 12:45
Fulham played out a disappointing draw with Norwich last time out, a 0-0 draw the end result on a day when both sides seemingly struggled to break the deadlock.
Sascha Reither is doing all he can to help his case for a longer contract come the end of the season. The right back has been producing some excellent displays for Martin Jol’s side and has earned a 76.7% tackle success rate from 60 attempted challenges, as well as 83 interceptions and 12 blocks.
The versatile German has also been proving his mettle in attack, providing 45 crosses, a squad-high, and completing 400 passes in the opponent’s half this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Damien Duff has been rolling back the years at times this season, proving he still has more than enough quality to compete in the upper echelons of the Premier League. He’s provided more assists than any other Fulham player with 7, as well as chipping in with 3 goals.
Hugo Rodallega continues to turn in some solid performances up front for Martin Jol’s side this season. Whilst his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov continues to grab the headlines for the Cottagers, it is the Colombian who has the strongest accuracy rate in the squad for players with more than 13 attempts on goal, with 67.4%.
Stoke claimed a deserved 2-1 victory over Reading thanks to a Robert Huth header and a ferocious strike from Cameron Jerome.
Although not a player who often garners headlines, Glenn Whelan has been one of Tony Pulis’ most consistent performers this season. He’s contributed 5 assists and 24 crosses as well as completing a pass in the opponent’s half once every 5.8 minutes.
No Stoke player has been more willing to provide a consistent threat on goal than Jonathan Walters this season. He’s racked up 35 attempts on goal, although only 46% have been on target.
Matthew Etherington will be looking for more end-product from his final ball as we move into the business-end of the season. He’s provided 30 crosses this campaign, more than any other Stoke player, but has yet to register an assist.
Although always key in a defensive context for Stoke, Robert Huth’s reading of the game will need to be at its best this weekend to cope with the deceptive movement of the Fulham front line. All signs suggest that the big German has the ability contain Berbatov and co though, as he leads the Stoke squad for interceptions with 148 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Arsenal v Aston Villa 15:00
Ten-man Arsenal secured what could be a valuable win away to Sunderland as they held on for a 0-1 win at the Stadium of Light. A rasping Santi Cazorla shot was enough for Arsene Wenger’s men, as they battled to the end after losing Carl Jenkinson for a second bookable offence.
Despite only playing 1408 minutes of football this season, Jack Wilshere has already completed 560 passes in the opponent’s half. This pass rate places him 5th on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for minutes per pass.
In his absence, Santi Cazorla has been more than willing to shoulder the burden of creative midfield general. The diminutive Spanish wizard is currently sitting on 998 passes completed in the opponent’s half this season and will be expecting to become potentially the first player to break the 1000-mark this weekend. Hi nearest rival is Yaya Toure on 942.
Although he has been criticized at times for his performances this season, Per Mertesacker boasts some of the best defensive statistics in the entire Arsenal squad. Not only do he have a 71% tackle success rate from 31 challenges, he also leads the Gunners’ squad for clearances (30) and interceptions (45).
Expect to see Theo Walcott use his pace to get in behind Aston Villa’s much-troubled defence and test Brad Guzan this weekend. The England forward has been revelling in his time spent in more central positions and is third in the Arsenal squad for attempts on goal (57) and has the strongest shot accuracy rate in the squad for players with over 10 attempts (68.4%).
Aston Villa claimed all three points in a crucial 2-1 over West Ham last time out. Despite an Ashley Westwood own goal, strikes from Christian Benteke and Charles N’Zogbia were enough to give Paul Lambert’s men continued hope of maintaining their Premier League status.
Arsenal are having trouble with their wide defensive setup at present so expect to see Matthew Lowton making some charges down the flanks this weekend. He’s so far delivered 31 crosses and has completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other Villa player this season (317).
Although Villa’s defenders have been criticized repeatedly this season, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that there is certainly no lack of quality amongst their defensive leaders. Ciaran Clark has made an exceptional 225 positive defensive contributions this term, including 28 blocks, the third highest in the league.
Much of Villa’s hopes will inevitably fall on the broad shoulders of Christian Benteke as they push for Premier League survival. The striker has had 76 shots on goal and has the best accuracy rate (71.1%) of any player in the top 20 for number of attempts on goal.
Villa keeper Brad Guzan has been called into action repeatedly this season but has kept on rising to the challenge. He leads the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves with 152.
Norwich v Everton 15:00
On a day when clear-cut chances were in very short supply, Norwich could only earn a point in a 0-0 draw against Fulham.
Sebastian Bassong remains Norwich’s defensive rock this season, having made a squad-high 174 positive defensive contributions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Look for Robert Snodgrass to provide the main focal point of Norwich’s attack against Everton. The winger has provided more crosses than any other Norwich player with 104, and has successfully completed a pass in the opponent’s half once every 3.8 minutes he has been on the pitch.
Despite being noted more for his defensive capabilities, Bradley Johnson has been more than willing to try his luck in front of goal this season. He ranks joint second in the Canaries squad for attempts on goal with 34.
Anthony Pilkington is another Norwich player who has been showcasing all facets of his game this season. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index the midfielder has established an excellent 73.1% tackles success rate from 26 attempted challenges.
Everton were unable to halt the Man Utd juggernaut as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford. Tim Howard was one of David Moyes’ star performers in a game were the visitors struggled to impose their will on a Utd side in a rich vein of form.
Striker Victor Anichebe has been having an extended starting run in the Everton team in recent weeks and has been turning in some solid performances. He’s now racked up an on-target shot on goal once every 48.7 minutes, scoring 5 goals along the way.
Every week the media delight in the continued rise of Leighton Baines and every week he seems to continue on his incredible run of form, demonstrating his ability in both defence and attack. The England international has a superb 72.3% tackle success rate from 65 challenges and has successfully completed 635 passes in the opponent’s half this season.
His defensive colleague Phil Jagielka is another who is cementing his reputation as one of the top defenders in the Premier League. The centre-half has a superb 87.9% tackle success rate from 58 challenges, as well as ranking fourth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for interceptions with 159
Marouane Fellaini would do well to learn from his colleagues’ example, as for all his dominance in the middle of the park, he conceding fouls with alarming regularity. He tops the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 52, conceding a foul on average once every 38.7 minutes.
QPR v Manchester Utd 15:00
QPR remained rooted to the bottom of the Premier League as they were soundly beaten 4-1 away to Swansea. A solitary Bobby Zamora goal will have given little cheer to the R’s dressing room and they face an ever sterner challenge this weekend.
Julio Cesar has rightly been garnering rave reviews for some of his performances since joining QPR. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index records him as making 107 saves despite only playing 1687 minutes this season, the lowest of any keeper in the top 15.
Much of the creative responsibility for QPR falls to Adel Taarabt and Man Utd will be keen to shut down his space this weekend. He leads the QPR on numerous attacking front including dribbles (41), crosses (26) and assists (5).
The Moroccan forward is also often QPR’s biggest threat in front of goal, his 77 attempts being almost as many as the next three most prolific shooters in the QPR squad combined (87).
Man Utd cruised to a 2-0 victory over Everton as they continue their seemingly unstoppable march towards yet another Premier League title. The ever-green Ryan Giggs slotted home the opening quarter of an hour, followed by yet another Robin van Persie finish just before the break.
Brotherly affection will be suspended on Saturday at Loftus Road and you can guarantee Rafael will be relishing the chance to compete against his twin Fabio. The Man Utd man has certainly had more game time than his twin this season and so it’s unsurprising to see him excelling on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He’s racked up 84 defensive contributions this season as well as 443 completed passes in the opponent’s half, placing him 4th amongst Premier League right-backs.
Fellow defender Jonny Evans continues to excel and has disrupted the established centre-half partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic with his performances. He currently has the best tackles rate of player in the Utd squad with 68% for 28 challenges.
Should QPR manage to shackle Robin van Persie they will have achieved a feat that few defenders have managed this season. The Dutchman has been irrepressible this term, his 19 goals meaning he has scored from every 4.63 attempts he’s had on goal.
Not to be outdone, forward partner Wayne Rooney has been upping the ante as the season has progressed, completing the third highest number of passes in the opponent’s half in the United squad (471) as well as chipping in with 7 assists.
West Brom v Sunderland 15:00
West Brom rocked Liverpool last Monday as two late goals from Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku gave the Baggies a famous win at Anfield.
Few defenders can claim to have surpassed Gareth McAuley this season, the Northern Irishman repeatedly coming to rescue for Steve Clarkes’ side. He’s amassed a mammoth 138 interceptions and 64 clearances according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Chris Brunt continues to surprise many commentators with the standard of his play this season, but the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows his form to be no accident. He’s consistently finding space for others in advanced positions, completing 312 passes in the opponent’s half this season, the second highest in the Baggies’ squad.
Jonas Olsson has been throwing himself into his defensive duties with admirable courage this season. He currently sits fifth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for blocks with 25.
Sunderland were unable to capitalize on their one-man advantage against Arsenal last time out as they were defeated 0-1 at the Stadium of Light. It was a performance of which Martin O’Neill can be proud though and he will need his players to show similar grit and adventure this weekend against one of the season’s surprise packages in West Brom.
One of Martin O’Neill’s star performers this campaign has undoubtedly been his Belgian stopper Simon Mignolet. He’s is currently rated second amongst goalkeepers in the Premier League for saves on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 147, one every 17.1 minutes.
There are few more creative wing pairings in the Premier League than Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon. The creative wide men have amassed 96 crosses and 10 assists between them.
Craig Gardner will need to work on his discipline in defence as we move towards the season’s crucial stages. He’s compiled an unenviable defensive record so far this campaign, racking up more fouls than any other Sunderland player with 41.
Reading v Wigan 15:00
Reading face Wigan on the back of consecutive 2-1 defeats at the hands of Manchester United in the Cup and Stoke in the Barclays Premier League.
Jobi McAnuff was on target against United and Adrian Mariappa against Stoke. Despite his cup goal, McAnuff is yet to score in the Premier League despite 23 efforts at goal, the third highest number of shots without return in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Mariappa has been more used to excelling in his own box than the opposition box this season. He is ranked 5th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for clearances with 153, and 6th for blocks with 24.
Jimmy Kebe is currently Reading’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in 151st, just one place ahead of Mariappa. Kebe has 5 goals this season from just 16 efforts at goal, an incredible conversion rate of 3.2 shots per goal (the best rating in the Premier League among players with 5 or more goals to their name).
Kebe has also won an impressive 64.5% of the tackles he’s attempted, howing the midfielder excelling in both his offensive and defensive duties.
Wigan have also had the same scoreline in their last two games, although they were on the winning end the second time around as they bounced back from a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League to win 4-1 in the Cup against Huddersfield.
Shaun Maloney scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season against Chelsea. His goals have come from 32 efforts at goal. While his 8 shots per goals is not the most efficient rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, his on target percentage of 65.6% suggests he will add to his tally before the season is out.
Maynor Figueroa made 17 interceptions in the game against Chelsea, the fourth highest by a Wigan player so far this season. That took his tally for the season to 93 interceptions.
Ali al Habsi made 8 saves against Chelsea, his sixth busiest game of the season. That took his tally for the season to 137 saves, the 5th busiest goalkeeper in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
James McCarthy is ranked 11th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed in the opposition area, keeping company with a top 15 passers compiled exclusively from players from Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea.
Sunday 24th February
Manchester City v Chelsea 13:30
Chelsea must beware a Man City backlash this weekend after the reigning champions were humbled by Southampton last time out. The 3-1 defeat will have prompted Roberto Mancini into reading the riot act to his players and expect them to come out firing at the Etihad on Sunday.
Yaya Toure has stepped right back in his role as the pivotal figure in the City midfield following his return from the African Cup of Nations. The big Ivorian is snipping on the heels of Santi Cazorla for title of the league’s most effective passer. He sits second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 948.
Carlos Tevez continues to excel for City this term despite his side’s indifferent form in recent weeks. He’s contributed either a goal or an assist every 79.7 minutes this season.
James Milner’s industry is what so often gets him into positions to deliver the final ball and it is this energy and tenacity which is why he leads the City squad for crosses delivered with 31.
Chelsea demolished Wigan 4-1 at Stamford Bridge as part of a dazzling all-round display by the reigning European champions. The goals were shared throughout the team, with Ramires, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard and Marko Marin all getting on the scoresheet. They will need to bring a similar blend of steel and flair if they are to topple Man City in their own backyard this weekend.
Few players can claim to be as influential for their sides as Spanish maestro Juan Mata, his technical excellence defining most of Chelsea’s season. It will crucial for City defenders to close down his space and prevent him adding to his 753 completed passes in the opponent’s half or it will be a long day for their defence with him pulling the strings just behind Chelsea’s forward line.
The idea that his talents are in decline seems to have spurred Frank Lampard onto even greater heights this season. Renowned as a consummate professional, he’s been equally as efficient with his on-field exploits, his 11 goals coming once every once every 3.8 shots.
Shackling the considerable talents of this City outfit will likely fall largely to the Ramires and David Luiz but they must control the urge to rush their challenges in a game where ill-discipline could cost them. The two have racked up 43 fouls between them this season.
Newcastle v Southampton 13:30
Despite a first-half Yoan Gouffran goal, Newcastle fell to a 21 defeat at the hands of Tottenham and the inspired Gareth Bale. Alan Pardew can take heart from what was a strong Newcastle performance and he will be looking for his side to produce a similar performance against the Saints this week.
Despite only playing 767 minutes this season Sylvain Marveaux still has the highest number of assists of any player in the Newcastle squad with 5.
Midfield dynamo Moussa Sissoko looks to be settling into life at Newcastle well, quickly picking up the pace at which the play is conducted in the Premier League. He’s already completed 60 passes in the opponent’s half this season, at a rate of one every 4.6 minutes.
Fabricio Coloccini continues to be Newcastle’s defensive rock this season, the Magpies captain leading by example to the rest of his defensive colleagues. He’s established an excellent 78.9% tackle success rate from 38 attempted challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Alan Pardew will be looking for far greater accuracy from Papiss Cisse as Newcastle continue to adapt to life after Demba Ba. As yet this season the Senegalese frontman has only managed to work the keeper with 52.1% of his 46 attempts on goal.
Southampton produced one of the great performances in their history last time out as they condemned reigning Premier League champions Manchester City to a 3-1 defeat at St Mary’s. Goals from Jason Puncheon and Steven Davis secured a famous win and they will want to carry their new-found momentum into this weekend.
Expect to see Jason Puncheon build on his performance against Manchester City this week and look to terroise Newcastle’s defence on Saturday. He leads the Southampton squad for dribbles with 15.
Morgan Schneiderlin is renowned for his all-action defensive efforts in the heart of the Southampton midfield and has now joined Steve Sidwell as part of the exclusive club of players to have attempted 100 or more tackles this season.
Defender Jose Fonte shows no signs of ending his excellent run of form any time soon, as he leads the Southampton squad for defensive contributions this season with 211 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Rickie Lambert has spent much of this season proving his value is not limited to how many times he hits the back of net. His movement and physical presence has been an invaluable asset for Southampton and he has so far provided a squad-leading 7 assists according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Monday 24th February
West Ham v Tottenham 20:00
West Ham lost out in the battle of the claret and blues in the last round of Barclays Premier League fixtures, losing 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Joe Cole forced an own goal from Villa to set up an exciting final ten minutes which also saw Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole both come close to an equaliser.
Joe Cole has played just 598 minutes for West Ham since returning to the team where he first learnt his trade, but has already racked up 158 completed passes in opposition territory and 22 crosses.
Kevin Nolan is one of 25 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have had more than 50 efforts at goal this season, and of those he has the second best shot on target percentage with 70.3% on target.
West Ham will have their work cut out containing an in form Gareth Bale against Spurs. Bale has now scored four goals in Spurs’ last three Barclays Premier League games to put them four points clear of North London rivals Arsenal in fourth place.
The task of shackling Bale will fall to West Ham right back Winston Reid, who has stats to suggest the tussle will be less one sided than some people may think. Reid has won 60.8% of tackles attempted this season and has made 113 interceptions, one of 30 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have made more than 100.
He has also made 20 blocks, and is one of only 14 players to have made 20 or more, so the New Zealand international is not afraid of throwing himself in front of one of Bale’s pile drivers.
West Ham will need that, as Bale got six shots on target against Newcastle, the second highest total by a Spurs player this season, while at the other end of the pitch Kyle Walker’s 5 clearances is the joint third highest total by a Spurs player this season.
One player who has not shared Bale’s luck is Spurs team mate Gylfi Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson remains the player in the EA SPORTS Player Perfornance Index to have most shots at goal without scoring this season, with 30.
Steven Caulker has been enjoying pitch time recently for Spurs and has one of the best ‘tackles won’ percentages in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index winning 82.6% of his 23 attempted tackles this season.
The aerial tussle will be key to Spurs containing Andy Carroll. That task will most likely fall to Michael Dawson, who has made 22 clearances this season at a rate of one every 48 minutes, and Jan Verthonghen, who has made 29 clearances at a rate of one every 79 minutes.