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 21st December
Liverpool vs Cardiff 12:45
An inspired performance from stand-in skipper Luis Suarez guided Liverpool to an astounding 5-0 win at White Hart Lane last weekend, and they host Cardiff at the start of the festive fixtures.
Steven Gerrard hailed Suarez as the ‘best player in the world on current form’ following the Reds victory on Sunday, and claimed that the Uruguayan was integral to Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index supports Gerrard’s claims as it shows that Suarez made a total of 5 goal-scoring contributions against Spurs (scoring twice, and assisting 3). Suarez also took more shots than any other player in the league on Sunday, and amazingly, hit the target with every single one of them.
Filling skipper Steven Gerrard’s boots was always going to be a near impossible task for Liverpool’s other central midfielders, but as with all injuries, it provides the perfect platform for another player to showcase their ability and stake a claim for a first team place. Joe Allen was entrusted with Gerrard’s position on Sunday, and with a point to prove after an indifferent start to his Anfield career, Allen produced one of his finest displays in a red shirt. The Welshman excelled defensively, as he won 8 tackles – which was more than any other player in the league.
Another player who will be expected to up his game following the skipper’s injury is Phillippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been in fine form this term, but in Gerrard’s absence, the creative burden will rest firmly on his shoulders. When examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it appears that Coutinho has taken to this task with consummate ease, as he completed a pass in Spurs’ half at an incredible rate of a pass every 3.6 minutes. Coutinho is an industry best 6/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.
Liverpool’s performance was so complete on Sunday, that Simon Mignolet was hardly forced into making a save – making only 1 all afternoon. This would have been a nice break for Mignolet as he’s been in the thick of it this term making a total of 57 saves, the fourth most in the league and more than any other top 4 ‘keeper.
Who to start at centre half has been an issue for Brendan Rodgers this term, with four top quality players to choose from. Statistically this season, however, Martin Skrtel has been the most impressive, making a total of 193 defensive contributions (based on clearances, interceptions, blocks and tackles won). This is more than any other player in the Liverpool squad.
Cardiff’s 1-0 victory over West Brom moved them four points clear of the relegation places, a position they will look to consolidate over the forthcoming months.
Hardman Gary Medel has impressed for Cardiff all term, and his outstanding tackling ability was on show again against West Brom. Sitting in front of the back four, he managed to snuffle out any attacks by winning an impressive 75% of his attempted challenges. The Chilean also made 3 interceptions against the Baggies – the most in the Cardiff team.
Midfield partner Jordan Mutch has been equally impressive this term, with his subtle creativity complimenting Medel’s swashbuckling style perfectly. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights precisely how effective Mutch was on Saturday, as he made a total of 21 attacking contributions (based on crosses, passes in the opposition half, dribbles and shots). This was the most in the Cardiff lineup, and cements his status as an outside bet for the World Cup next year.
Peter Odemwingie has only featured in 651 minutes for Cardiff this term, but in this short space of time he has demonstrated his willingness to take shots at goal. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has taken a shot every 54 minutes this term, which is a better rate than any other Cardiff player. You can find Odemwingie at 15/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.
Peter Whittingham scored the winner on Saturday to double his goalscoring tally for the season. Whittingham has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and it’s great to see that he’s finding his feet in the top tier, after showing so much promise with Aston Villa when he was a youngster. In addition to being one of only three outfield players in the Cardiff team to have featured in every minute for Cardiff this season, he has also made the most goal-scoring contributions (based on goals and assists) with 5.
Fulham vs Manchester City 15:00
Fulham welcome free scoring Manchester City to Craven Cottage after suffering a humbling 4-1 defeat at the hands of Everton
The 4-1 scoreline was slightly flattering on the Toffees, with two late goals doing the close encounter a disservice. For the first 70 minutes Fulham were continuing their improved form, and the all-round performance of Steve Sidwell encapsulates this. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance, the Reading man took more shots than any other Fulham player and was successful in every single challenge that he attempted.
Sascha Reither’s foraging runs forward earned him Fulham’s Player of the Season award last term, and his performance on Saturday implied that he might be starting to hit top form again. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that all of Reither’s offensive ability was on show at the weekend as he completed 30 passes in Everton’s half – the second most of any defender in the league.
Music to the ears of Fulham fans will be the news that Dimitar Berbatov is starting to hit top form again. Things may not have always gone the enigmatic Bulgarian’s way this term, but he’s still been able to showcase his willingness to take shots at goal. So far this season, he has managed to take a shot every 48.6 minutes which is a better rate than any of his teammates.
Striker Darren Bent hasn’t always been a regular for Fulham this term, with both Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen favouring Dimitar Berbatov as their sole front man. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that Meulensteen would be wise to pick the England international, as he has a far better shot to goal ratio than the Bulgarian. Bent has taken 4.5 shots for every goal, whereas Berbatov 8.3. Bent is 3/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.
In an incredible offensive display, Manchester City put 6 goals part Arsenal in an enthralling game at the Etihad.
David Silva’s return from injury has been a welcome boost for manager Manuel Pellegrini, and the Spanish maestro was instrumental for Manchester City on Saturday. The former Valencia man has shown his guile and creativity time and time again for the Citizens, and his excellent passing ability was evident again as he completed an impressive 48 passes in Arsenal’s half. This was the third most in the league, and he managed to make one of these passes every 1.4 minutes.
The return of Vincent Kompany has raised the spirits in the Manchester City camp, as the skipper has an excellent ability to rouse his fellow defenders and bring out the best in them. Kompany is arguably the best centre half in the world, with his outstanding eye for a tackle, imperious heading, and excellent positioning awareness making him a truly world class central defender. Kompany, however, is less renowned for his dribbling, but on Saturday, he showcased his ability to beat a man as he completed 5 dribbles – the third most in the league.
Yaya Toure’s ability to dominate the midfield has been on show this season, as he has completed 641 passes in the opposition half, what is often overlooked however, is his excellent shooting ability. So far this season, Yaya Toure has only had to take 2.7 shots to score a goal – a better rate than star striker Sergio Aguero (3.9). Toure is 8/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.
Micah Richards may not have featured on a regular basis for Pellegrini’s men this term, due to a combination of injury and Zabaleta’s outstanding form, but in the minutes he has played he has shown his excellent eye for a tackle. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Richards has won every challenge that he has attempted.
Stoke vs Aston Villa
Stoke host Aston Villa in a game that, despite the season still being in its preliminary stages, can be billed as a ‘mid-table clash’.
Peter Crouch may be something of a giant, but he has surprisingly quick feet and good passing ability for ‘a big man’. This ability to spray the ball about was evident on Saturday as he managed to complete an impressive 27 passes in the opposition half – the third most of any striker. Crouch is 11/2 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.
Ryan Shawcross must be in with an outside chance of going to Brazil next year, as there aren’t many centre halfs around who have been as consistent as the Stoke skipper over the last year or two. The former Manchester United man was in fine form again on Saturday making a total of 15 clearances – the most in the league. Shawcross has also managed to make an outstanding 22 blocks this term, 16 more than any of his teammates.
By examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it isn’t hard to see why Stoke have struggled for goals this term. Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters, two key strikers for Stoke, have only managed to score every 8 and 9 shots respectively. It is a surprising statistic for such reliable goalscorers, and a statistic that you’d expect to change over the Christmas period.
A lack of goals should take nothing away from Crouch’s overall offensive contribution. The EA SPORTS Player Performance index highlights that he has made 5 goalscoring contributions (based on goals and assists), which is more than any other Stoke player.
Aston Villa travel to the Britannia looking for an improvement on their performance on Sunday.
One of the rare bright sparks for Paul Lambert’s men was winger Marc Albrighton. Fresh from his loan spell with Wigan, the Villa academy graduate gave Patrice Evra a headache all afternoon, and managed to swing in a total of 5 crosses – the most in the league.
Another promising youngster on the Villa books is central midfielder Ashley Westwood with Paul Lambert tipping him as the future Michael Carrick. By examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it isn’t hard to see why the Villa manager has predicted bright things for the former Crewe man, as he completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.6 minutes. Westwood is an industry best 31/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.
Christian Benteke’s woes in front of goal have been well documented, but he could definitely make a case for goalkeeping brilliance being at the route of him problems. So far this term, Benteke has hit the target with 50% of his efforts, which although isn’t fantastic, is far from poor, and suggests that it won’t be too long until he’s firing on all cylinders again.
Fabian Delph was a big miss for Villa on Sunday as he was suspended after picking up 5 yellow cards. The Villains could have used his all-round offensive ability, as they struggled for creativity against the Champions. So far this season, Delph has made 306 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, dribbles, crosses and shots).
West Brom vs Hull
Manager-less West Brom host Premier League new boys Hull, looking to end a run of 4 straight defeats.
The Baggies were condemned to a 1-0 loss against Cardiff despite boasting the majority of possession and taking more shots. Attacking midfielder Stephane Sessesgnon, in particular, has every right to feel aggrieved by the defeat as he completed an impressive 23 passes in Cardiff’s half – this was more than any other West Brom player. Sessegnon also showcased his outstanding dribbling ability, as he completed the most dribbles in the Baggies lineup (3).
If West Brom are to stay in the Premier League this year, they will need striker Shane Long firing on all cylinders to score the goals to keep them in the top flight. So far this term, Long has managed to score at an impressive ratio of a goal every 6 shots. Long is 11/2 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.
Likewise, senior players such as Youssuf Mulumbu and Jonas Olsson will have to up their game, use their top flight experience to marshall the players though the tough times and pick the younger ones up when they lose. The duo’s importance to the Baggies team is evident by the fact that they have completed 1260 minutes for West Brom this term – the most in the West Brom squad.
He may have only been used sparingly this year, but Graham Dorrans has demonstrated his ability to pick a pass. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that Dorrans has completed a pass in the opposition half every 3.7 minutes.
Hull drew 0-0 with Stoke last time out, a point that Steve Bruce will be satisfied with as it ensured that the Tigers sit 6 points above the relegation zone as we enter the Christmas period.
It must be pleasing for Steve Bruce that he has two internationals at the heart of his midfield, with both Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore making positive contributions since arriving on Humberside. Their expert passing was on show on Saturday as they managed to complete 24 and 31 passes in Stoke’s half repectively – no other Hull player completed more.
Ahmed Elmohamady has been a colossal figure for Hull this term performing at both right back and right midfield with distinction. His importance to the Hull squad is underlined by the fact that he has featured in 1390 minutes for Hull this term – which is more than any other player in the squad.
Former Manchester United midfielder Robbie Brady has shown glimpses of his undoubted potential this term, with a number of match winning displays. So far this season he has scored 3 goals, which is more than any of his teammates. This is unsurprising when consulting the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, as Brady has hit the target with an astounding 80% of his efforts. Brady is an industry best 17/2 with 888sport.com to score the opening goal on Saturday.
Egyptian midfielder Gedo may not have featured as prominently as he would have liked this term, making only 2 appearances. However, he has shown his eye for a pass in the limited opportunities that he has had. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he has completed a pass in the opposition half at a rate of a pass every 2.7 minutes.
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle 15:00
An inspired Crystal Palace were desperately unlucky not to get something from their game against Chelsea last weekend, as they fell to an eventual 2-1 defeat. Epitomised by the seemingly rejuvenated Marouane Chamakh, Palace forced Petr Cech into multiple saves. Tony Pulis will be looking for them to capitalise on this new found momentum when they welcome Newcastle this weekend.
Marouane Chamakh has been enjoying the form of Premier League career in recent weeks, stringing together a series of excellent performance following the arrival of Tony Pulis. He now has by far the best shot accuracy rate of any player in the Palace squad, with 71.4% of his total attempts this season testing the ‘keeper. Chamakh is an industry best 14/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
His strike partner Cameron Jerome is also rising in the statistics stakes this season and many Palace fans will be hoping that he and Chamakh can combine for continuing success this season. Jerome now had 11 attempts on goal to his name, the third highest in the Palace squad, with 54.5% of them testing the ‘keeper.
Damien Delaney continues to turn in some exceptional defensive performances this season, something that will no doubt please new boss Tony Pulis who knows a good defender when he sees one. Delaney currently ranks third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) with 208 this term.
Captain Mile Jedinak has won an excellent 74.1% of his 81 attempted challenges this season, marking him out as the main enforcer in the Eagles midfield. He has, however, also given away 26 fouls, a squad-high and must be mindful of his technique moving forward if he’s not to incur any bans.
Newcastle held Southampton to a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park last weekend, with Yoan Gouffran displaying good reactions to put the Magpies in front before Jay Rodriguez’s equalizer.
Loic Remy’s ability to carve out scoring attempts has been key for the Magpies this season, the Frenchman demonstrating great movement and an eye for a gap. He currently leads the Newcastle squad for attempts on goal according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 30 to his name. Remy is 16/11 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Countryman Mathieu Debuchy remains Newcastle’s most effective defender this term, compiling some highly impressive statistics. He’s won an excellent 82.8% of his 58 attempted challenges this season.
Moussa Sissoko reached a personal landmark last weekend, one which demonstrates the level of influence he has from the Newcastle engine room. Against Southampton became the first Newcastle player this season to surpass the 300 barrier for passes completed in the opponent’s half, his total now sitting on 301.
To complement this Sissoko also has the distinction of being one of the leaders in the Newcastle squad for total attacking contributions (shots on goal, dribbles, crosses, assists). The Frenchman has racked up 53 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Manchester Utd vs West Ham 15:00
A brace from Danny Welbeck helped Manchester Utd to a much needed 0-3 win over Aston Villa last time out. This result relieved some, if not all, of the pressure on David Moyes and he will be hoping his side have now reached a turning point in their season after a difficult start to this campaign.
Phil Jones is starting to come into his own this season, as he appears to be on the verge of cementing a permanent berth in the centre of the United defence. His display against Aston Villa will have done his chances no harm as well. He completed the highest number of defensive contributions (clearances, blocks, interceptions, tackles won) in the last round, with 23 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
A potential future partner in the centre of the Utd back four may be Chris Smalling, with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand likely to be rotated more moving forward. Smalling is more than up to the task though, as can be seen from some of his stats this season. He’s compiled a superb 95.2% tackles success rate from 21 attempted challenges.
It hasn’t taken Adnan Januzaj to feel at home in the Utd first team, the elusive forward quick to showcase his talents on one of Europe’s biggest stages. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he is the youngest player to have surpassed the 20-barrier for attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses) this season. Januzaj is 11/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Michael Carrick remains the conduit in the midfield of the Utd team this season, providing some much needed stability while David Moyes attempts to find his best combinations. He’s completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other Utd player with 402.
In a frustrating match for the Hammers’ fans, West Ham played out a 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland last weekend. Sam Allardyce commented after the game that he was pleased with his side’s defensive record so far this season but will no doubt be hoping for an upturn in fortunes in front of goal.
It’s easy to see why West Ham are keen to keep hold of Mohamed Diame in the upcoming transfer windows, with the dynamic midfielder key to breaking up the flow of opposition sides this term. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, of the players in the top 40 for total tackles attempted this season, he has the highest success rate with 97% from 54 challenges.
It’s not just in defence that Diame has been excelling either, he’s been equally as influential going forward as well. The powerful Senegalese international contributed the joint second highest number of defensive contributions (assists, dribbles, crosses, shots on goal) of any player in the last round, with 11 against Sunderland. Diame Is 17/2 to score at any time with 888sport.com this weekend.
James Collins is another Hammer who has been in similarly resolute form, placing joint second in the league for blocks with 22 so far this season.
Injury problems have compounded West Ham’s troubles in front of goal this season, with Andy Carroll and now Stewart Downing both sidelined. Given Carroll’s aerial ability and Downing’s crossing accuracy you’d have to think their goal threat will drastically increase upon their return. Downing in fact leads the league for crosses this season with 21 to his name.
Sunderland vs Norwich 15:00
Sunderland earned what could well turn out to be a valuable point away to West Ham last weekend as things ended all square at 0-0. Gus Poyet will have been disappointed not to come away with the win though after seeing a number of chances repelled by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The work ethic of the Black Cats is something that has seen a notable improvement since Gus Poyet’s arrival, the Uruguayan managing to motivate his players to strive and fight for each other. Sebastian Larsson epitomised this newfound desire against West Ham last weekend, attempting more tackles than any other player in the last round with 10 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Larsson has been equally as effective moving forward with the ball at his feet, leading the Sunderland squad as he does for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 255 to his name. Larsson is 17/4 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Phil Bardsley has appeared reinvigorated following Gus Poyet’s arrival after a turbulent time under Paulo Di Canio. He’s racked up some impressive numbers this season and has the best defensive success rate of any Sunderland player, winning a superb 82.9% of his 35 attempted challenges this season.
Captain John O’Shea has been turning in some leader’s performances of late, staking his claim to retain the armband long-term under Poyet. He’s highly committed and has made more blocks than any other Sunderland player with 13.
Another Gary Hooper strike helped Norwich secure a point in their 1-1 draw with Swansea last time out. Hooper has finally started to find some of his best form, and his quite brilliant volley will have done his international hopes no harm at all.
Hooper now has some of the strongest statistics in front of goal of any Norwich player, establishing a shot accuracy rate of 69.2% from 13 attempts. Hooper is an industry best 11/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy continues to be one of the most active stoppers in the league this season. Chris Hughton will be hoping for an increase in the level of Ruddy’s protection which has seen him have to make 59 saves so far this term, a figure which places him second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Leroy Fer has been an excellent acquisition for the Norwich midfield, providing plenty of threat going forward to complement his strong defensive work. He racked up the joint-second highest number of fouls during the last round with 4, so he’ll have to watch he doesn’t attract the attention of the officials to much this weekend.
Nathan Redmond has been highly touted this season for ability to strike fear into opposition defences with his attacking style and speed down the flanks. However he clearly has plenty of strings to his bow though, completing a very solid 65.7% of his 35 attempted tackles this term.
Sunday 22nd December 16:00
Swansea vs Everton
Only a wonder goal from ‘Super’ Gary Hooper denied Swansea all three points in their clash at Carrow Road last time out. They host Everton in a game that can be described as a ‘battle of the passers’.
Making only his fourth appearance of the season, Jordi Amat made a telling-defensive contribution against the Canaries. The youngster is only 21 years of age, but he produced a solid display underlining his excellent potential. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he was successful in every tackle that he attempted.
Jonathan de Guzman’s outstanding passing ability has been on display all campaign, as he has managed to complete an unrivalled 435 passes in the opposition half, with the nearest Swansea competitor trailing in his wake with 420. The Dutchman was at it again on Sunday, completing 35 passes in the Canaries half – more than any other player in the Swans squad. You can find De Guzman at 11/2 with 888sport.com to score at anytime at the weekend.
Nathan Dyer’s goal took his total of goalscoring contributions (calculated on number of goals and assists) to 4 this term following his goal against Norwich. This put him third in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Swansea table, with Wilfred Bony sitting one ahead of him with 5, and Summer signing Jonjo Shelvey leading the way with 7.
Leon Britton is a Swansea man through and through, having played for them since they were loitering in the depths of the Football League. He has always coped incredibly well with the rigours of rising up each division, and throughout his time in the Premier League he has earned plaudits for his outstanding passing ability. This skill of his has been evident again this season, as he has completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 3.2 minutes.
Everton’s seamless transition to life under Roberto Martinez continued with an impressive 4-1 victory over Fulham on Saturday, with Spanish sensation Gerard Deulofeu getting on the scoresheet again.
One of the first moves that Roberto Martinez has made since taking the reins at Everton is making Ross Barkley the lynchpin of his offensive play. Despite barely featuring last term, Barkley’s star has risen at a remarkable speed this campaign as he has been elevated to not only an integral member of the Everton team, but an England international. Sitting just behind the striker, Barkley has been spraying the ball about, fashioning chances for his teammates with his wide array of passing. He continued in this vein of form on Saturday completing an incredible 39 passes in Fulham’s half – the most in the Everton squad, and tellingly considering Brazil next year, the most of any Englishman.
Gareth Barry is another Englishman who Roberto Martinez has placed emphasis on this season, as he has featured regularly for Everton since his arrival on Merseyside. Roberto Martinez has described his partnership with James McCarthy as the ‘best in the league’ with their ability to interlink with intricate passes, and shield the back four an essential component in Everton’s success. Barry’s ability to protect the defence was evident again on Saturday as he completed a solid 60% of his challenges.
Spanish sensation Gerard Deulofeu has made an incredible impact since his loan move to Everton in the Summer. Eyebrows were raised when Roberto Martinez secured his signature, as the winger is not only 19 years of age but also has a slight frame, which pundits suggested would lead to him struggling with the rigours of the Premier League. He may have taken a while to adapt, but the Barcelona youngster is starting to show what he’s all about as he’s scored 2 goals in his last 2 games. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index suggests that more goals are likely to come for Deulofeu, as of the 16 shots he has taken this term, he has hit the target with an impressive 81% of them.
Phil Jagielka has led from the front this season after taking the captain’s armband following Phil Neville’s retirement. The England international has been a colossus in defence for the Toffees all campaign, making a total of 215 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won). Perhaps a more surprising statistic, considering he has featured in every minute of the campaign so far, is that he has not been booked once. This is an excellent record for a defender and demonstrates his fantastic ability to read the game, and propensity to shire away from reckless challenges.
Southampton vs Tottenham 13:30
A wonderful goal from Jay Rodriguez secured a point for Southampton against Newcastle last weekend. Another solid result against Spurs will see them still well in the hunt for European places come the new year.
Victor Wanyama may still top the league for fouls conceded (33) but he’s still getting the job done when it comes to recovering possession for the Saints. He’s won 77.2% of his 57 attempted challenges this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
When given the opportunity, Jack Cork has acquitted himself well this season. His 6 tackles was the joint second highest during the last round of fixtures.
Luke Shaw continues to draw the attention of some of the Premier League’s most financially powerful clubs. A continuation of his impressive form from last season has seen his list of suitors grow ever-longer and his EA SPORTS Player Performance stats show why. Despite being only 18, Shaw has some of the most solid defensive numbers in the league, winning 64.8% of his 37 attempted challenged this season and conceding just 8 fouls.
Although more known for his stamina and work ethic in the centre of the park, Morgan Schneiderlin has shown he’s no shrinking violet when it comes to having an attempt on goal this season. He has the best shot accuracy rate in the Saints’ squad, seeing 62.5% of his 8 attempts this season work the opposition ‘keeper. Schneiderlin is 17/2 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
A 5-0 thrashing at the hands of a Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool preceded the firing of Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas this week, meaning it will fall to ex-Spurs player Tim Sherwood to take charge against Southampton. He faces an uphill task against such a buoyant Saints outfit but a change in leadership may well galavanise an undoubtedly talented Spurs squad.
Despite arguably their poorest display of the season to date against Liverpool, Spurs certainly have the quality in their squad to dig out of the hole they currently find themselves in. Chief amongst these players would be Andros Townsend on current form, who currently finds himself second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total attacking contributions (crosses, dribbles, shots on goal, assists) this season, with 99 to his name. Townsend is an industry best 9/2 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Whoever takes over the manager’s hotseat permanently at White Hart Lane may well look to embed Danny Rose even further into the starting XI for Spurs. Rose’s development since returning from Sunderland on loan has been stark, the 23-year old winning a superb 90.9% of his 11 challenges this season.
Garnering the support of key senior figures in the dressing room is always key for any new manager coming in and no doubt Michael Dawson will fall into that category. He leads the Spurs squad for total defensive contributions this season (blocks, clearances, tackles won, interceptions) with 179 to his name.
The talents of Hugo Lloris have been well-documented this season, the athletic Frenchman defining the modern role ‘sweeper ‘keeper’. Amazingly, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, not only has he attempted 3 tackles this season, the highest of any goalkeeper in the league, he’s won all of them.
Monday 23rd December
Arsenal vs Chelsea 20:00
Arsenal endured a torrid time at the Etihad, seeing Manchester City run rampant in a 6-3 win. There was a bright spot on a dark day with Theo Walcott grabbing a brace as he continues his return from injury but it was still a humbling outing for the Gunners in a game which surely solidified City’s title credentials.
Aaron Ramsey has become a talismanic figure for the Gunners this season, finally delivering on his undoubted potential following a string of injury and confidence setbacks. Of the players in the top 20 for total shots attempted, Ramsey has the best shot accuracy rate. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s worked the ‘keeper with an excellent 70% of his 30 shots this season.
The Welshman was once again in fine fettle against City despite a losing effort, completing passes in the opponent’s half at the best average rate of any player to have completed more than 10 passes. He racked up one every 1.48 minutes he was on the pitch at the Etihad.
Another player who has seemingly found his feet at the Emirates this season is Olivier Giroud who has certainly been firing on goal with abandon this term. He’s third in the league for total attempts on goal with 42 (Suarez – 57; Aguero – 51). Giroud is 9/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Laurent Koscielny’s injury will have been an Arsenal fan’s worst nightmare after the Frenchman’s incredible form so far this term. He’s not only won an excellent 80% of his 35 attempted challenges, but he also ranks third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total interceptions with 45.
Chelsea sneaked past Crystal Palace last weekend thanks to goals from Fernando Torres and Willian after being second-best for the majority of the game. Jose Mourinho will be desperate for his side to start hitting some form as his inconsistent start to his second stint with the club continued.
Eden Hazard is fast developing into one of the most crucial players at Stamford Bridge under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho. The young Belgian’s decision-making is one area in particular which has seen dramatic improvement, Hazard now choosing to find his teammates with his vision and passing ability rather than attempting to go it alone. He leads the Blues squad for total passes completed in the opponent’s half with 517. That’s an average of one every 2.6 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.
Hazard has now also surpassed Tottenham’s Andros Townsend as the league’s most profilic dribbler this season, his performance against Crystal Palace seeing his total rise to 57.
Juan Mata has been clearly working hard to impress Mourinho when given the chance and show him that his defensive work can now match his exceptional play going forward. He’s completed a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 2.2 minutes, a squad-high. Mata is 13/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Chelsea’s problems up front have been well-documented this season, with a lack of a recognised in-form striker continuing to hamper their season. Jose Mourinho will be hoping one of his three front-men puts their hand up, although to date Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have combined for just 42 attempts on goal this season. Compare this with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (50) and Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (58).