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 28th September
Aston Villa vs Manchester City 15:00
A solitary goal from Libor Kozak saw Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert to a 1-0 victory against former side Norwich last weekend.
Fabian Delph continues to showcase his defensive versatility this season. No Villa player has made more successful tackles (23) and he’s done so with an excellent success rate of 71.9%.
Villa fans everywhere will be hoping that Christian Benteke makes a swift return from injury given the Belgian’s potency in front of goal. So far he is the only Villa player to have established a shot accuracy rate of greater than 50% (77.8%).
Captain Ron Vlaar continues to lead from the front for Villa this season, turning in some solid work at the back. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s made a squad-leading 57 defensive contributions this term (blocks, successful tackles, clearances and interceptions).
A quite stunning performance from Manchester City saw them dismantle fierce rival Manchester United in a 4-1 win at the Etihad. Goals from Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure and a brace from Sergio Aguero gave Manuel Pellegrini’s side the bragging rights in the Chilean’s first Manchester Derby.
Edin Dzeko has looked revitalized under the new regime at the Etihad, yet his stats suggest there is still more to come from City’s frontman. Despite clearly rediscovering his confidence he still only has a 50% shot accuracy rate from his 12 attempts strikes on goal so far this season. More goals surely can’t be far off is he manages to boost this to the levels City fans know he can reach. Dzeko is 11/2 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Yaya Toure has once again established himself as an indomitable force in the City midfield, with a couple of impressive displays in recent outings showing that he will likely be key to Manuel Pellegrini’s plans. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Yaya has the second highest total of passes completed in the opponent’s half of any player in the league with 191.
Everyone knows of Pablo Zabaleta’s love for rampaging up the flanks when given the opportunity, but it is his consistency at the back which affords him the licence to do so. He is City’s top defender so far this season, with an excellent 85.7% success rate from his squad-leading 28 attempted challenges.
Fulham vs Cardiff 15:00
Despite a battling performance, particularly in the middle of the park, from Martin Jol’s Fulham against Chelsea last weekend, they were unfortunately not able to hold out till the end and eventually succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to the men in blue.
Fulham knew they were bringing in a potent attacking force when they acquired Adel Taarabt on loan for the season and he has so been delivering exactly that. He leads the Fulham squad for attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses) with 12. Taarabt is an industry-best 7/2 with 888sport.com to get himself on the scoresheet at any time this weekend.
Another smart move was the signing of Scott Parker, the England international bringing stability and consistency to the Fulham midfield. He is so far the only Fulham player to have completed more than 100 passes in the opponent’s half (124) and he has done so at an impressive average rate on one every 2.9 minutes.
Brede Hangeland may not have committed himself to that many tackles so far this season (8) but that is because he is reading of the game is clearly at such a level that he doesn’t feel the need to. He leads the Fulham squad for interceptions with 38.
Despite a performance which shows they have what it takes to hang with the best the Premier League has to offer, Cardiff will have been desperately disappointed not to come away from last weekend with at least a point after a goal at the death from Tottenham.
Unsurprisingly after his heroics last weekend, David Stockdale has rocketed up the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves made. He currently sits in 2nd place with 24.
Stockdale has not been short of commitment from his defence so far this season though. Steven Caulker has shown his physical commitment to his new side with a league-topping 10 blocks so far this season.
Indeed, Cardiff were always going to find the Premier League to be a step up in terms of quality but so far their collective defensive unity has been shown to be more than up to the task. So far the have 9 nine players in total (Cowie, Whittingham, Campbell, Bo-Kyung, Gunnarsson, Connolly, Bellamy, Medel, Caulker) with a tackle success rate of more than 50%, a superb stat for a club new to the rigours of the Premier League.
Manchester United vs West Brom 15:00
Manchester United were left stunned after a 4-1 defeat in the Manchester Derby at the Etihad, a sole Wayne Rooney freekick the one bright spot on a difficult outing for David Moyes’ men.
As usual Michael Carrick has been quietly, yet effectively, going about his work this season. It is his footballing intelligence that tends to set him apart from the pack though, his positional awareness and reading of the game always seeming to place him in the right spot. As it stands he’s made the most interceptions of any player in the league with 26.
When Robin van Persie does eventually make his return from injury, David Moyes will be hoping he’s able to rediscover some of his deadliest form in front of goal. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Van Persie has currently had the most off-target attempts on goal of any player in the league with 10.Utd fans will obviously be hoping Nemanja Vidic can stay fit for as long as possible this season, given the captain’s imposing presence at the back. His commitment to the Utd cause has been visible for all to see so far this term, with no player in the league making more clearances that the Utd skipper with 58.
West Brom stormed to a 3-0 home win over Sunderland last weekend, with Stephane Sessegnon opening the scoring against his former club.
James Morrison has so far been West Brom’s most potent attacker this season, with a squad-leading 12 attacking contributions (shot on goal, cross, assist, dribble) to his name according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Morrison is 15/2 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Claudio Yacob has been turning in some sterling efforts at the back for West Brom so far this season, top their charts for most attempted tackles with 23. He also has the best tackle success rate of any of his colleagues who has made more than 21 challenges, with 73.9%.
Jonas Olsson continues to be a rock at the back for Steve Clarke’s side this season and the big Swede has some impressive stats to show for it. He currently sits second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total defensive contributions with a sterling 54. Only Manchester United skipper can boast more with 58.
Southampton vs Crystal Palace 15:00
Prior to the start of the season, this clash may have been considered a relegation ‘6 pointer’, but on the basis of performances so far this season it should be considered anything but that. Southampton have started the season well, and completed a stunning win at Anfield last week, whereas Palace suffered a disappointing loss at home to Swansea.
The Eagles result could have been even worse were it not for Danny Gabbidon. The Welshman made 12 defensive contributions (clearances, blocks, interceptions and tackles) against Swansea, more than any of his teammates.
Overall this season, however, Gabbidon’s performances have been overshadowed by his Australian teammate Mile Jedinak. The Australian has made more defensive contributions than any other player in the league.
Crystal Palace might have conceded twice at the weekend, but the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the strikers need to up their game too. Between them, the Eagles strikers failed to register a single shot against Swansea. 888sport.com are backing Marouane Chamakh to change Palace’s fortunes, and are offering 5/1 for him score at any time.
Strikers may point to a lack of service as a reason behind their lack of chances, but midfielder Jason Puncheon would refute this claim. He completed 37 passes in Swansea’s half on Saturday, which was more than anyone else on the pitch
Dejan Lovren’s header was enough to give the Saints all three points in their match against Liverpool on Saturday.
He may have been active up the pitch, but Lovren also showcased his defensive ability on Saturday, clearing the ball 8 times – more than any other Saints player.
The performance of another Saints defender, Nathaniel Clyne, was one that really caught the eye. He comes into the match against his former club in fine form according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, as he won 13 tackles against Liverpool, more than anyone else in that round of fixtures.
Clyne was far more successful than his teammate on the other flank. Left back Luke Shaw attempted 9 tackles at the weekend, but lost 6 of them. No other player in the league lost more.
Southampton have earned plaudits for their tendency to develop young English talent, and so far this season, James Ward-Prowse has repaid the faith put in him. In addition to completing 10 crosses this season, the saints academy graduate has completed a pass in the opposition half once every 2.8 minutes. He’s 13/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal of the match against Arsenal.
Swansea vs Arsenal 13:30
Both teams come into this fixture on the back of impressive victories. Swansea beat Premier League new boys Crystal Palace, and Arsenal secured a victory against Mark Hughes’ Stoke.
Wayne Routledge was in impressive form against his former club, making a total of 33 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, dribbles, crosses and shots). This was the most of the Swansea team. Routledge is 14/1 to score the first goal on Saturday with 888sport.com.
Jonjo Shelvey was the centre of attention in Swansea’s game against Liverpool, producing a real Jekyll & Hyde performance. However, the former Red quietly went about his business against the Eagles on Sunday, completing a pass in the opposition half every 3.9 minutes.
Shelvey’s passing has been impressive all season, as he has completed an impressive 157 passes in the opposition half this campaign. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that this is 40 more than any of his teammates.
One of the most competitive battles in the Swansea line up is who lines up in the left back slot. Ben Davies is the incumbent, but now Neil Taylor has stepped up his recovery from injury, the Welsh youngster’s position may be under threat. Davies, however, can sleep in comfort knowing that he has completed more tackles than any other Swansea player.
Unsurprisingly, however, the stand-out performer for Swansea this season has been skipper Ashley Williams. Swansea’s centre half has made more defensive contributions, based on clearances, blocks, interceptions and tackles, than any other player in the Swansea team. This is also the fourth most in the league.
Arsenal’s away record has been incredibly impressive recently, as they have registered 10 successive away victories.
Despite only featuring in two matches so far in his short Arsenal career to date, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Mezut Ozil tops the assists chart in the Premier League. The German has registered 4 assists in just two appearances.
The best performer for Arsenal this season has undoubtedly been Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman maintained his fine form against Stoke, completing 42 passes in Stoke’s half. Ramsey has completed more passes in the opposition half than any other player in the league this year, and you can find the Welshman at an industry best 14/1 to score the last goal of the game with 888sport.com.
Ramsey has been proving his worth defensively too, winning more tackles than any of his teammates.
Another Gunner who impressed defensively was German youngster Serge Gnabry. He may have only played 73 minutes, but no other Arsenal player completed as many interceptions as the youngster.
There haven’t been many negatives for Arsenal so far this season, but one of the few has been the performances of Jack Wilshere, with some critics claiming that his position is under threat. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, however, demonstrates that the criticisms may be slightly premature. Other than Ramsey, the ferocious midfielder has made more attacking contributions (150), than the rest of the Arsenal squad.
Tottenham vs Chelsea 12.45
As we approach a match many have touted as the master vs the apprentice, both Andre Villas Boas will be desperate to set down a marker for the rest of the season. A late goal from Paulinho ensure Tottenham left Cardiff with all three points after a game they had largely dominated but been repeatedly denied by an inspired performance by opposing stopper David Marshall.
Andros Townsend continues to impress this season, grabbing the chance to shine for this new-look Tottenham side under AVB. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performances Index he is joint first in the league for on-target attempts on goal with 8. The former QPR loanee is 15/1 with 888sport.com to open the scoring on Saturday.
At the weekend, however, Brazilian Paulinho proved to be the main goal threat for AVB’s men. The central midfielder took 5 shots against Cardiff, more than any of his teammates.
Fellow central midfielder Moussa Dembele was also proving his offensive worth on Saturday. He completed 5 dribbles against Cardiff, the second most in the league.
Neither of these players, however, managed to match defender Kyle Walker in their total number of attacking contributions (based on shots, crosses, dribbles and passes) this season. The former Sheffield United man has made a total of 203, more than any of his teammates.
This is, in part, due to the number of passes that Walker has made in the opposition half this season. The England international has passed the ball 189 times in the opposition half, which is more than any other defender. Leighton Baines is Walker’s closest rival, passing the ball 160 times in the opposition half.
Mourinho’s start to the season in his second coming hasn’t lived up to the success of his first spell, with a particular point of contention being his decision to name Oscar as his number 10. Oscar, however, is repaying the faith shown in him by Mourinho, completing a pass in the opposition half every 2.3 minutes.
Another Chelsea player who has impressed with his passing is midfielder John Obi Mikel. Many criticize the Nigerian for his lack of creativity, but,the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he completed 42 passes in the Fulham’s half last Saturday.
Fellow defensive midfielder Ramires has also been showcasing his passing ability. The Brazilian has completed 169 passes in the opposition half this year, only Hazard has completed more in the Chelsea ranks.
Branislav Ivanovic is a fantasy football player’s dream due to his propensity to hit the back of the net. He’s taken 9 shots so far this season, which is more than any defender. 888sport.com have Ivanovic at 19/1 to open the scoring on Saturday.
Hull vs West Ham 15:00
A superb volley from Sone Aluko handed Hull all three points against Newcastle last weekend in one of the most back-and-forth fixtures of the round.
Robbie Brady has been one of the outstanding performers for Hull so far this campaign, and he was on form again against Newcastle completing more passes in the opposition half than any of his teammates. 888sport.com are offering an industry best 14/1 for the Irishman to open the scoring at the weekend.
Brady also managed to complete more dribbles, and swung in more crosses than any other Hull player.
Hull will need to ensure that their defence is watertight this year if they are to stay up, and they’ll need Curtis Davies to maintain his current level of performance. The former Birmingham defender has made 76 defensive contributions this season (based on interceptions, blocks, clearances, and tackles), which is the third most in the league.
Fellow centre half James Chester is just behind Davies in the rankings, having made a total of 73 defensive contributions.
Ahmed Elmohamady is a player that Steve Bruce holds in high regard, having signed him both for Sunderland and Hull. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights exactly why Bruce rates him so highly, as the Egyptian has swung in 8 crosses so far this season. This is the most of any Hull player and the fifth most in the league.
West Ham slumped to a home defeat by Everton in the last round of Premier League fixtures, but may feel slightly unlucky as two of the goals were courtesy of Leighton Baines superb free kicks.
Mohammed Diame will be hoping to improve on his shooting, as against Hull he didn’t manage to test the goalkeeper once despite having three shots. No other player in the league took more shots without hitting the target.
In contrast, however, Diame was as solid as rock in the tackle. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the former Wigan man completed 7 tackles, with a 100% success rate.
West Ham have been criticized by their style of play at times over the last few years, but Mark Noble appears to be refuting these criticisms. He has completed 104 passes in the opposition half so far this season, at a rate of a pass every 4 minutes. It appears that West Ham will miss the academy graduate, as he completes his suspension.
It is pretty unsurprising to see that Matt Jarvis has swung in more crosses than any other West Ham player. The former Wolves man has swung in 6 crosses this season, the fourth most in the league. You can also find Jarvis at 15/1 with 888sport.com to open the scoring on Saturday.
The understanding between centre backs is paramount in any team, and Sam Allardyce has underlined the importance of this understanding by starting Winston Reid and James Collins in every league game so far this season. Collins, in particular, has been highlighting his worth to the West Ham team as he has made the second most defensive contributions in the league.
Sunday 29th 13:30
Stoke vs Norwich
Both Stoke and Norwich will be looking to bounce back after losses to Arsenal and Aston Villa respectively, with Norwich in particular looking to improve on their poor start to the season.
Despite succumbing to a 3-1 loss, Stoke highlighted exactly how their style has altered since Mark Hughes has been at the helm, as they had more possession than their counterparts. Powerful midfielder Steven N’Zonzi was central to this, as he completed 46 passes in Arsenal’s half – more than any player on either side.
On average, N’Zonzi managed to complete a pass in Arsenal’s half every 1.9 minutes.
Former Stoke manager Tony Pulis built his Stoke side on strength and hard work, and it appears that striker Marco Arnautovic adheres to the old gaffa’s philosophy. The young Austrian made more tackles than any other forward in the league. He’s 5/1 with 888sport.com to score the last goal of the game.
Marc Wilson’s tackling ability has also been on show this season, as, according to the EA Sports Player Performance Index, the Stoke midfielder has made 32 challenges. The third most in the league.
Left back Erik Pieters became Mark Hughes’ first signing as Stoke manager, when he picked the Dutchman up this Summer. Looking at defensive contributions (blocks, interceptions, tackles and clearances), it isn’t hard to see why Hughes was keen to get the former PSV defender in. His 52 defensive contributions are more than any other Stoke defender.
Norwich’s indifferent start to the season continued in the last round of Premier League fixtures, as they succumbed to a 1-0 loss at home to Aston Villa.
The calls for Gary Hooper’s inclusion in the side will be growing stronger following his brace in the League Cup midweek. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Norwich strikers Johan Elmander and Ricky van Wolfswinkel have only scored 1 goal between them so far this season. You can find Hooper at 13/2 to score the first goal on Sunday with 888sport.com
Norwich’s failure to hit the back of the net at the weekend should not be blamed on Robert Snodgrass. The former Leeds man swung in 5 crosses against Aston Villa, no other player in the league managed more than 2.
Another former Leeds man was showcasing his creativity for Norwich on Saturday, as midfielder Jonathan Howson completed a pass in the opposition half every 2.3 minutes.Chris Hughton was willing to spend money this Summer, and one player he invested heavily in was midfielder Leroy Fer. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Fer has been proving his worth defensively, as he has been successful in 84% of his tackles.
Nathan Redmond’s form has certainly been impressive this season, in particular his willingness to take on his opposite man. The silky winger has completed 15 dribbles this season, which is 11 more than any other Norwich player.
Sunderland vs Liverpool 16:00
It’s been a tumultuous week for Sunderland, with the removal of Paulo Di Canio as manager. Whereas, Liverpool will be hoping that the introduction of another enigmatic character will provide them will a new lease of life
Luis Suarez was welcomed back with open arms by the Liverpool faithful in their match against Manchester United this week, but it could be argued that Liverpool haven’t missed last season’s top goalscorer too much. Daniel Sturridge leads the goalscoring charts, and his confidence in front of goal is also demonstrated through him having the second most shots on goal in the league. You can find Sturridge at 33/10 with 888sport.com to score the first goal of the match on Sunday.
Suarez’s chance of an immediate return to the first team will be aided by the injury to Phillipe Coutinho. Coutinho has certainly been impressive this campaign, completing a pass in the opposition half every 3 minutes.
Critics raised their eyebrows when Pepe Reina left Liverpool for Napoli on loan, but Simon Mignolet has replaced the Liverpool stalwart with consummate ease. He has made 25 saves this campaign, which is more than any other keeper in the league.
35s Leiva’s tackling has been impressive this season, and this was the case again against Southampton. He made 6 tackles, more than any other Liverpool player.
Sunderland’s influx of players has probably been a factor in their disappointing start to the current campaign, but in the passing department, academy graduate Jack Colback has impressed. He has completed 90 passes in the opposition half this season, which is more than any other Sunderland player according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
However, his number of attacking contributions (based on passes, crosses, dribbles, passes and shots) is overshadowed by former England winger Adam Johnson. Johnson is 5/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time against Liverpool.
Johnson’s threat is particularly evident in the number of crosses that he has swung in. He has swung in the second most crosses in the league with 9.
Despite only featuring in four games this season, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows how adept Modibo Diakite has been at clearing the ball. He has cleared the ball 32 times this season, more than anyone else in the Sunderland team.
Monday 30th September
Everton vs Newcastle
An inspired performance from Leighton Baines handed Everton a 3-2 victory against West Ham in the last round of Premier League fixtures, whereas Newcastle were involved in a game with the same scoreline, but unfortunately were on the wrong side of it.
The battle between Baines and Ashley Cole for England’s left back position has stepped up a gear in the past year, with many hoping that Baines’ offensive ability will put him in the driving seat. Baines’ crossing is central to his offensive supremacy, and this season shows exactly why. Everton’s number 3 has crossed the ball 8 times this season, more than any other defender. Baines scored 2 freekicks against West Ham, and he’s 14/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Monday.
Baines is one of the stalwarts of this Everton side, but one of the new boys who has made a real impression is Gareth Barry. Manchester City’s on-loan midfielder completed 51 passes in the opposition half on Saturday, the second most in the league.
According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Barry completed a pass in the opposition half every 1.7 minutes.
Everton are the only side yet to be beaten in the league this year, and this is, in part, due to their resilience in defence. This resilience is evident in the fact that Tim Howard has only made 9 saves this season – the least of any keeper to feature in every game.
It has been an absolutely phenomenal season for Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, and this is in part because of his dribbling ability. The skillful midfielder has completed 22 dribbles this year, the most in the league.
Newcastle’s topsy-turvy year continued with their loss at home to Premier League new boys Hull.
Hatem Ben Arfa is considered central to Newcastle’s chances of success, and it isn’t hard to see why. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows the Frenchman has completed 17 dribbles this campaign – the third most in the league.
Compatriot Mathieu Debuchy has been similarly impressive at the opposite end of the pitch. The French international has made the third most interceptions in the league.
Joe Kinnear has had his critics this year, but the acquisition of Loic Remy looks to be a shrewd piece of business. The Frenchman scored 2 goals against Hull, but also took more shots than anyone else in the league. Remy is 7/1 with 888sport.com to maintain his fine form, and score the first goal of the match on Monday.
The French contingent in Newcastle’s squad appears to be integral to their chances of success, and this is personified through Moussa Sissoko. The Frenchman has completed 136 passes in the opposition half this campaign, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, which is more than any other player in the Newcastle team.