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 and put in a true captain’s performance? Then read on and let the welcome return of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index arm you with enough stats to impress everyone but girly girls.
Saturday 14th September
Manchester Utd vs Crystal Palace 12:45
Following the international break, David Moyes has more to worry about then just Wayne Rooney’s head injury. After an impressive start against Swansea, Moyes’ men have failed to win their next two games, and they host a Crystal Palace side buoyed by their victory against Sunderland. The Red Devils should be wary of defender Joel Ward. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s had wingers in his back pocket all season, completing 84% of his tackles.
Ward’s efforts have been aided by the contribution of his defensive partner Damien Delaney. He’s made more clearances than any of his teammates, booting the ball away 31 times. 888sport.com are offering 12/5 for the defensive duo to maintain their fine form, and help the Eagles keep a clean sheet this weekend.
Maintaining possession will be paramount for the Eagles as they look to topple the Champions, and much of the responsibility for doing so will rest on the shoulders of Kagisho Dikgacoi. He’s made more passes than any other Palace player with 63, averaging a pass every 4.3 minutes.
It is often said that it is a momentous step up from the Championship to the Premier League, but Mile Jedinak has taken to the top flight like a duck to water. He’s made 61 offensive contributions, (passes, crosses, dribbles and shots), according to the EA Sports Player Performance Index.
Robin Van Persie topped the goalscoring charts during the last campaign, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Palace will have to be wary of the Dutchman as he’s taken 9 shots so far this season, level second in the league.
Michael Carrick’s stock has risen over the past couple of seasons, with his ability to retain possession becoming increasingly evident. The EA SPORTS Player Performance demonstrates exactly why this view has developed, as he has made 100 passes in the opposition half during the course of the first three league games.
Interestingly, Tom Cleverley is the only United player who is level with Carrick, as he too has completed 100 passes. It was suggested that Roy Hodgson overlooked the English youngster as he conceded possession too easily, but on the basis of these statistics Hodgson’s decision may have been unwarranted.
With Iker Casilles finding himself on the bench for Real Madrid it has been suggested that Spain may have to look elsewhere for a new number 1. Look no further than David De Gea, The twenty-two year old has made 13 saves so far this season, the second most in the league. 888sport.com are offering odds of 3/4 for David de Gea to maintain his fine form, and keep Palace at bay again.
The blame for David De Gea’s exposure to shots from the opposition can’t be blamed on Michael Carrick. The midfielder may be renowned for his passing exploits, but he has also made 14 interceptions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index – more than anyone else in the league.
Antonio Valencia may have lost the coveted number 7 shirt at Old Trafford this year, but the comparisons to Christiano Ronaldo shouldn’t completely disappear. He’s completed 5 dribbles so far this season, more than any of his teammates.
Aston Villa vs Newcastle 15:00
What a coup it might be for Aston Villa that Christian Benteke decided to stay at the club. The Belgian powerhouse leads the Premier League goalscoring charts, hitting the back of the net 3 times in the opening three fixtures. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that his goal tally is unsurprising; as he has hit the target with 75% of his shots.
Benteke hasn’t been the only Villa player gaining plaudits for his performances this season. Fabian Delph has been one of the outstanding players in the league so far, and this is in part due to his dribbling ability. He has completed 11 dribbles this campaign, the third most in the league.
The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index also suggests that Delph has been equally prolific in defence as he has won 12 tackles; more than any other Villa player.
Paul Lambert’s boys didn’t have the best campaign last time around, but Ron Vlaar was one of the few positives, making a real impression. He seems to have picked up where he left off last season, as he has made 21 clearances thus far this season. The most of any Villa player.
Ashley Westwood is a player that many regard as a future international, and he has been showing his credentials this season. Sitting in the middle of the park for Aston Villa, he has averaged a pass every 4.1 minutes – a better average than any other Villa player. 888sport.com have him at 24/1 to score the first goal of the game on Saturday.
Christian Benteke might be banging it in on a regular basis for Aston Villa, but the same cannot be said of Hatem Ben Arfa. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he has had 10 attempts on goal, but failed to score once. No other player has had as many shots without scoring. 888sport.com have him at 15/4 to break this goalscoring duck and score at any time on Saturday.
Despite not scoring so far this season, Ben Arfa has still managed to showcase his skillset completing a total of 10 dribbles.
Only Moussa Sissoko matches Ben Arfa, as he too has managed to complete 10 dribbles.
Fellow French international Mathieu Debuchy has also been putting a shift in for the Magpies. He has attempted 13 tackles so far this season, which is six more than any other Newcastle player.
Yohan Cabaye might be returning to first team action for Newcastle, but he would do well to dislodge Moussa Sissoko. The midfielder has completed 82 passes in the opposition half so far this season, a staggering 20 more than any of his team mates
Fulham vs West Brom 15:00
Both Fulham and West Brom will be looking to improve on their poor starts so far this season. West Brom’s pursuit of victory is could be thwarted by Fulham centre half Aaron Hughes, who’s managed to make a total of 32 clearances – the third most in the league.
Hughes’ impressive form is also evident in the amount of blocks he has made this season. After the opening three games his 6 blocks puts him ahead of any other player in the league.
Controversial midfielder Adel Taarabt may have his critics, but it’s clear that he’ll provide Fulham with a much needed creative spark. Despite only playing 160 minutes for Fulham so far, he has made the most dribbles in their team with 6. 888sport.com have Taarabt at 3/1 to score at any time on Saturday.
Another new signing for Fulham is central midfielder Scott Parker, and, much like Taarabt, he’s certainly made his mark. He completed 24 passes in the opposition half against Newcastle, and his 66 passes overall this season are more than any other Fulham player.
Parker has also managed to average a pass in the opposition half every 2 minutes.
West Brom’s defensive efforts has much to do with the form of Claudio Yacob. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Yacob has managed to make 19 tackles so far this season – more than any of his team mates.
The Argentinean does need to improve on his discipline though, as he has committed 9 fouls – the second most in the league.
Fulham may be concerned about the defensive efforts of Claudio Yacob, but they should not forget his fellow central midfielder Youssuf Mulumbu. Last weekend he made 5 interceptions, the second most in the league.
Jonas Olsson is considered the lynchpin of West Brom’s defence, and, looking at the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it isn’t hard to see why. The Swede has made a total of 38 defensive contributions so far this season (tackles, headers, blocks and clearances).
Despite this, the young right back Billy Jones has bettered Olsson’s efforts. The former Preston man has had an outstanding year, making 39 defensive contributions – the most in the West Brom team.
Both Fulham and West Brom have impressive defensive records this season, and 888sport.com are offering 13/5 for the game to draw a blank.
Hull vs Cardiff 15:00
The season may only be three weeks old, but this clash could already be considered a real ‘six pointer’. Hull’s chances may depend heavily on Ahmed Elmohamady who has completed more passes in the opposition half (86) than any other Hull player.
Likewise, Sone Aluko will be expected to carry much of the attacking burden for Hull. He completed 4 dribbles against Manchester City, more than any other striker in the Premier League according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Looking at the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index it is unsurprising to see why Steve Bruce was so desperate to add a striker to his squad over the Summer. Between them, Hull’s strikers have only mustered 4 shots at goal so far this season. Danny Graham is one of the culprits for Hull’s goalscoring woes, but 888sport.com have him at 15/2 to change this trend on Saturday.
Defensively, Hull appear to rely heavily on Maynor Figueroa. The Honduran has made 10 tackles this season, more than any other Hull player.
Cardiff continued their solid start to the season with a nil-nil draw at home to Everton. Matthew Connelly can take much of the credit for this rearguard effort making a total of 18 defensive contributions (tackles, interceptions, headers and clearances).
Cardiff City captain Craig Bellamy is mostly known for his pace, and his ability to hit the back of the net. Interestingly, however, the skipper has been putting in a big defensive shift this season. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Bellamy has attempted 12 tackles so far this season – more than any other striker.
Bellamy also demonstrated his creativity last weekend, as his 19 passes in the Everton half was more than any of his team mates.
Cardiff City have made a host of big name seasons so far this season, but it is one of the stalwarts from their Championship-winning side who has caught the eye this season. Kim Bo-Kyung has been showcasing his guile and flair, completing 9 dribbles – the most of any Cardiff player.
Peter Whittingham may have failed to register his name on the scoresheet so far this season, but that can’t be down to lack of effort. The midfielder has taken 6 shots so far this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index – more than any other player. 888sport.com have Whittingham at 11/1 to score the first goal on Saturday.
Stoke vs Manchester City 15:00
As Mark Hughes prepares to face his former club, he must be quietly optimistic of securing a good result. The Potters come into the game having beaten the resilient West Ham away, whereas Manchester City were far from convincing in their win at home to Hull.
It can’t be long until the big boys come knocking for Stoke midfielder Steven N’Zonzi. The Frenchman has made an impressive 91 passes in the opposition half so far this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
N’Zonzi’s worth to Hughes’ side is clear when looking at the attacking contributions (headers, crosses, dribbles, passes and shots). Sitting on 98, N’Zonzi has made 32 more attacking contributions than any of his teammates.
N’Zonzi has been spraying the ball about this season, but don’t ignore the contribution of Marc Wilson. The Irishman has been the foil behind N’Zonz as he has made 24 tackles so far this season, the most in the league.
Geoff Cameron’s defensive contribution is also evident when examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index – he has a tackle success percentage of 82%. 888sport.com have offered 17/4 for the Stoke team to shut the Citizens out on Saturday.
It is likely that Stoke will try to capitalize on Manchester City’s defensive woes by swinging the ball into the box. However, they will need to improve on last week when they only managed to cross the ball twice in the whole game.
Pellegrini’s men are sitting third in the table after the opening three games, but the stat of real interest at this stage is that they have scored more goals than any other team.
David Silva must take much of the credit for this, with the Spanish maestro completing 129 passes in the opposition half so far this season. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that this is more than anyone else in the league.
David Silva also tops the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in attacking contributions this season with 139. This is judged on shots, passes, crosses and dribbles. Silva is yet to score this season, but you can find him at 10/1 with 888sport.com to open the scoring on Saturday.
Powerhouse Yaya Toure has also demonstrated his ability to pick out a man so far this campaign, completing a pass in the opposition half every 2 minutes.
At the other end of the pitch, Aleksander Kolarov has been making a case to oust Gael Clichy as City’s first choice left back. He made the joint top most interceptions in the league last weekend, with 6.
After his goalscoring heroics two years ago, it could be thought that Sergio Aguero had a disappointing campaign last year. He’s certainly shown his dribbling ability this year though, completing 4 dribbles – more than any other City player.
Sunderland vs Arsenal 15:00
Two late goals saw Sunderland’s wayward start to the season continue as they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The ever-threatening Steven Fletcher powered in a header on his return to the first team following injury but it was not enough to spare Paulo Di Canio’s side a demoralising result.
Adam Johnson will be looking to improve on what has been a somewhat quiet start to the season for the England winger. Johnson has provided 5 crosses so far this term but has yet to register an assist.
John O’Shea may have been sent off against Crystal Palace last time out but his manager may well now regret his decision to publicly criticise his captain in the wake of their defeat. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, no other Sunderland player can boast a better tackle success rate than his 81.8% from 11 attempted challenges. The Black Cats will have to find some other way of replacing his defensive leadership and organisational skills against a free-flowing Arsenal side this weekend.
It must feel like déjà vu for Sunderland fans this season as once again they must turn to Steven Fletcher alone for goals. He scored last time out with his first and only attempt on goal, but will require some support from his Sunderland teammates who have previously only been able to muster a solitary goal from 24 attempts on goal between them. Fletcher is 7.1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal this weekend.
Paulo Di Canio will be hoping that Cabral can add some stability to his midfield this season. The new signing has shown he has what it take to be a dominant figure in the Sunderland midfield, quickly establishing a solid average rate of a pass in the opponent’s half once every 3.8 minutes during his 90 minutes on the pitch so far.
Despite Arsene Wenger being under substantial pressure before their North London derby against Tottenham, his Arsenal side came through after a stand-out finish from Olivier Giroud proved enough for the Gunners to claim a 1-0 victory. Star- signing Mesut Ozil is expected to make his debut against Sunderland this weekend, a creative prospect that must have Giroud eager to get back in the hunt for more goals at the Stadium of Light.
It appears as though Olivier Giroud has finally found his feet in the Premier League after an up-and-down first season in English football. However, one wonders if there aren’t even greater plaudits in store for the French international should he find greater accuracy in front of goal. Giroud has actually been surprisingly wasteful when it comes to testing the keeper, being on target with just 44.4% of his 9 attempts on goal so far this season. Giroud is a 7/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Whilst his creativity, vision and technique are beyond reproach, Santi Cazorla would do well to leave some of the defensive work to some of his more deep-lying colleagues. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the Spanish wizard has lost 15 out of the 16 tackles he has committed himself to this season.
Much has been made of the return to form of Aaron Ramsey in recent weeks, the Welshman appearing to have regained much of the confidence he lost following his horrific leg break back in 2010. Nowhere has this resurgence been typified more than in his defensive work, with Ramsey throwing himself into challenges with gusto as he continues to evolve in his deeper lying role in the Arsenal midfield. His stats back-up this level of commitment to the cause, with no player in the league who was on the winning side last time out being able to surpass his 11 total tackles.
Per Mertesacker has been credited as being instrumental in persuading Mesut Ozil to join himself and fellow German international Lukas Podolski at the Emirates. However it is not just in helping Arsenal secure deals off the field where the giant centre-half has been making his presence felt this season. He has made more defensive contributions (successful tackle, block, interception, clearance) that any other Arsenal player with 27.
Remarkably, as if to further showcase his excellent reading of the game, Mertesacker has also attempted just one tackle this season, the joint lowest of any centre-half in the league (tied with Gary Cahill) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Tottenham vs Norwich 15:00
A battling performance from Tottenham was not enough to prevent them slipping to a 1-0 defeat to local rivals Arsenal in what was considered as perhaps something of an upset given Tottenham’s moves in the transfer window this summer. Chairman Daniel Levy, Franco Baldini and Andre Villas-Boas have moved quickly and confidently in the spending of the fee received for Gareth Bale but it was evident on this display that their new-look side will require further time to gel before reaching their potential.
Nacer Chadli has been highly touted since his arrival at White Hart Lane, with many pundits commenting that he could be one of the best signings for Tottenham this summer. As with all new Premier League arrivals however, it appears Chadli will need some time to acclimatise to the rigours of English football. The Belgian has yet to register a single on-target attempt on goal, despite his 6 strikes so far this season. This is the most attempts on goal any player in the league has taken this season without testing the keeper.
Young right-back Kyle Walker has come in for a tough time of it in recent weeks, most recently in a difficult outing against the Ukraine for England. People should not be so quick to discount Walker’s talents though, he has a solid tackle success rate so far this season, coming out on top in 70.6% of his 17 attempted challenges.
– Andros Townsend will be looking to build on what has been an excellent start to the season for him, capitalising on his momentum from his loan spell with QPR in the last campaign. No Spurs player can top his 19 attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, crosses, dribbles) so far this year, a stat which should hopefully safeguard his involvement this weekend despite the influx of new players at White Hart Lane over the summer. Townsend is an industry best 22/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Indeed, his 9 contributions in attack last time out were the most of any player in the league who still ended up on the losing side during the last round of fixtures.
Youngster Nathan Redmond bagged his first Premier League goal in what also turned out to be the decisive strike against Southampton. The result gave Norwich their first league win of the season but they face an even sterner test against Spurs this weekend.
This season may well be remembered for the attacking exploits of some of the league’s younger players if some of the early signs are to be taken seriously. Redmond has been one of those standout performers so far, his 13 dribbles drawing him so much attention that the word is an England call-up might not be too far away.
He sits atop a trio of English players (Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend) with an average age of just 20 who lead the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for dribbles so expect youth to flourish even further if given the chance as the season progresses.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel continues to be the most heavily penalised player in the league this season, the Dutch striker racking up 10 fouls at a rate of one every 27 minutes. You can find Van Wolfswinkel at 7/2 to do the business at the right end of the pitch and score at any time though with 888sport.com.
Defender Michael Turner’s influence continues to grow for Chris Hughton’s side this season. The centre-half still leads the Norwich squad for overall defensive contributions (tackles won, interceptions, clearances, blocks) with 35.
Hughton will be expecting to see greater ambition and adventure from some of his midfield players as the season continues. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, defender Steven Whittaker leads the Norwich squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 65.
Everton vs Chelsea 17:30
Everton’s wait for a first league win under Roberto Martinez continues as they could only manage a 0-0 draw away to Cardiff in their last outing. The Toffees saw a number of chances spurned in front of the Cardiff goal and they will have to be more clinical if they want to take something away from this weekend.
Whilst Everton fans may still be stinging from the loss of Marouane Fellaini, their retention of Leighton Baines could prove to be even more pivotal in the long run. Despite playing behind Fellaini, Baines has completed more passes in the opponent’s half (121) than the big Belgian and at a better average rate (1 every 2.1 minutes) than any defender in the league who has played more than 180 minutes this season.
Much has been made of the performances of Ross Barkley at the start of this season, the youngster even doing enough to earn a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s squad for the recent World Cup qualifiers. Barkley, 19, is clearly one of a crop of youngsters impressing this term and is the only teenager to have so far broken the 100-barrier for passes completed in the opponent’s half (104). He’s also done so at an impressive average rate of one every 2.6 minutes he’s been on the park so far this season. Barkley is 6/1 to get himself on the scoresheet this weekend with 888sport.com.
Sylvain Distin has lost none of his touch despite now being the oldest defender in the Premier League. The Frenchman has won 90% his 10 attempted challenges so far this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Chelsea’s last competitive outing saw them lose the European Super Cup on penalties to Bayern Munich and Jose Mourinho will be hoping they can take they tactical discipline, as well as their flair, from this fixture back into their league form.
Oscar appears to be flourishing under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho this term, the Portuguese coach adding the extra dimension of a solid defensive work ethic to the talented Brazilian’s overall game. As well as leading the Chelsea squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half (112), as might be expected of him, he’s also been successful with 60% of his 5 attempted challenges this season. Oscar is an industry best 9/2 with 888sport.com to get a reward for his efforts and score at any time this weekend.
Frank Lampard won his 100th cap for England in midweek, a great achievement for a fantastic servant of English football. Lamps has clearly lost none of his touch when it comes to popping up in scoring positions, given that he currently leads the Chelsea squad for shots on target (4) and is just 1 behind the standout Oscar for total shots attempted (8) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Gary Cahill and John Terry appear to be forming a solid relationship at the back for Chelsea. In fact such is there working relationship that they appear to be becoming almost mirror images of one another. Both have a 100% tackle success rate, as well as sharing the same number of both clearances (18) and interceptions (3).
Sunday 15th September
Southampton vs West Ham 16:00
Southampton’s last outing saw them lose their unbeaten record this season as they were beaten 1-0 by Norwich at Carrow Road. The visitors felt hard done by with a penalty decision which didn’t go their way and will be looking to get things back on track this weekend.
Rickie Lambert’s confidence is shining brightly at the moment following a successful start to his international career with England. His buoyant mood has clearly translated onto the pitch, the new England frontman ranking joint second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total attempts on goal with 9. He will be hoping for greater accuracy this weekend though as only 55.5% of these have been on-target. Lambert is 5/4 with 888sport.com to find the net at any time this weekend.
At the other end of the park, once again few can seem to match the imperious Jose Fonte for overall defensive work. The classy Portuguese has made the joint highest number of defensive contributions of anyone in the league with 47.
Victor Wanyama has wasted no time in implementing his tough-tackling style on Premier League opposition since arriving from Celtic. The Kenyan international has quickly established himself as a dominant force in the Southampton midfield, racking up a tackle success rate of 80% from 5 challenges.
James Ward-Prowse, yet another talented product of the Southampton academy system, appears set to kick-on this year. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Ward-Prowse has the best pass completion rate of any player in the Southampton squad, successfully completing a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 2.9 minutes this season.
A spectacular free kick from Jermaine Pennant condemned West Ham to a 0-1 defeat at home to Stoke last time out. Sam Allardyce will be looking for a step up in performance when his team travel to the south coast on Sunday.
Sam Allardyce will have been especially pleased to have retained the services of Mohamed Diame this summer with the Senegalese midfielder being an integral part of his engine room. Despite Diame’s defensive capabilities, he also leads the Hammers’ squad for attacking contributions (12), proving his worth at both ends of the park.
Allardyce will be looking for his squad to up the game in terms of accuracy in front of goal. So far Joe Cole boasts the best accuracy rate in the West Ham squad, with 50% of his 4 attempts heading goalwards according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Alongside him, Mark Noble is unsurprisingly once again playing as the heartbeat of the West Ham squad. No Hammers player has so far completed more passes than Noble in the opponent’s half, his tally of 65 so far setting the benchmark for his teammates. Noble is an industry best 9/1 with 888sport.com to get himself in the right position and score at any time this weekend.
Monday 16th September
Swansea vs Liverpool 20:00
Goals from Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez secured Swansea’s first league win of the season and Michael Laudrup must have been pleased with his side’s dominant display against a solid West Brom outfit. His side now face former manager Brendan Rogers who has taken a similar passing, technique-focused style of play with him to Merseyside.
Ashley Williams has started the season in typically committed fashion, making the joint third most blocks (4) in the league so far this season.
His defensive colleague Ben Davies stormed into the first team last season, grabbing his chance to impress with both hands following injuries to more established players. His eagerness for work has clearly not diminished over the summer break, given that he leads the Swan’s squad for total attempted tackles with 12.
Jonjo Shelvey has wasted no time in settling into the setup at his new club, establishing his passing game with immediate effect. He tops the pile in the Swan’s squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 86 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Shelvey is 23/5 to score against his old side with 888sport.com.
A superb 1-0 win over a disjointed Manchester United saw Liverpool continue their stellar start to the season, with yet another goal from the red-hot Daniel Sturridge securing their place as Premier League leaders.
Sturridge’s flying start to the season has been bolstered by his coolness in front of goal, an obvious requirement for any striker. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Sturridge ranks joint second for on-target attempts with 5, and has scored, on average, from just over every 1 in 3 (37.5%) strikes he has had on goal this season.
Lucas Leiva’s evolution into one of the most solid central midfielders in the Premier League is showcased well by his superb defensive stats so far this season. He has attempted the second most tackles in the league (21), yet has done so with an excellent success rate of 85.7%.
As if further evidence was needed of how important Lucas will be to Brendan Rogers moving forward, the Brazilian is also the first Liverpool player to move into double-figures for both clearances (10) and interceptions (11). It is the defensive tenacity of Lucas and the Liverpool back four which might explain why the Reds are the only team in the Premier League who have yet to concede a goal.
Although much has been made of the impact made by Phillippe Coutinho following his move to the Premier League from Inter Milan, his midfield partner Steven Gerrard is still doing the business alongside him. The Liverpool skipper not only has a typically excellent tackle success rate of 91.7% from 12 attempted challenges, he’s also completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other Liverpool player (107) so far this season. Gerrard is an industry best 15/4 to score at any time against Swansea with 888sport.com.