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 1st February
Newcastle United vs Sunderland 12:45
Sunderland go into the Tyne-Wear derby this weekend just 2 points above the relegation zone, whilst Newcastle are only 6 points off a European spot. The reverse fixture saw Sunderland win 2-1 thanks to a late strike from Fabio Borini. A Sunderland win would be the first time since 1922/23 that they have won 3 in a row against their fierce local rivals.
Sunderland will be on a high after earning a vital 3 points against fellow strugglers Stoke midweek in a 1-0 win. This took them out of the relegation zone above West Ham. Sunderland have earned an impressive 11 points from their last 6 games.
Adam Johnson has been in good form of late, having scored 5 in his last 3 league games having only scored once this season prior to his current purple patch. Johnson has attempted 24 dribbles and put in 15 crosses this season, as well as attempting more shots than any of his teammates with 22. Adam Johnson is 15/4 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
On loan Fabio Borini will hoping to put his mark on this fixture again from a wide position. In midweek he dribbled 6 times, with only Hatem Ben Arfa attempting more with 7. Borini has also had more shots on target than any of his Sunderland teammates with 11 this term.
Vito Mannone was one of the busier keepers in midweek, making a total of 6 saves. Only Adrian of West Ham made more with 9 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Only 3 teams (Cardiff, Palace and Norwich) have scored less than Sunderland’s 22 goals this season. Adam Johnson is top scorer with 6, whilst their strikers have only scored 6 goals between them. Jozy Altidore has a decent shot accuracy rate with 67%, but has only managed 1 goal from his 15 shots.
Newcastle drew 0-0 with Norwich midweek. Newcastle only managed 3 shots on target, two from Loic Remy and one from Ben Arfa, and the final result against the Canaries means they have now only won 1 of their last 5 league outings.
Yohan Cabaye’s move to PSG will be a huge loss for Newcastle, as both he and Moussa Sissoko have been vital in midfield for Newcastle this season. Prior to his departure, Cabaye had had more shots this season than any other Newcastle player, and only Sissoko has made more passes in the opponents half (444) than Cabaye (434).
Loic Remy’s loan spell from QPR is certainly going to plan for Alan Pardew. He is Newcastle’s top scorer this season with 11 goals and only Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero and Daniel Sturridge can better Remy’s shots on target total of 25.
Matthieu Debuchy has so far made more total defensive contributions (blocks, interceptions, clearances, tackles won) than any other Newcastle player with 221. This includes an impressive 49 interceptions and 97 clearances, both Newcastle squad-highs.
West Ham vs Swansea 12:45
The Hammers produced a gutsy defensive performance against Chelsea, putting bodies on the line to ensure that the rampant Blues didn’t breach their defences and the nil-nil draw secured was a fair reflection of the Hammers’ outstanding effort.
West Ham’s rearguard effort can be best demonstrated through the performance of Matty Taylor. Taylor has been a favourite of Big Sam’s, and seeing his willingness to put his body on the line on Wednesday shows precisely why Allardyce is such a big fan. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he made a total of 7 blocks against Chelsea.
West Ham’s back four has been decimated by injury over the last couple of months, and Big Sam will be chuffed that centre halves James Tomkins and James Collins have stepped up their comebacks from injury. Collins was particularly instrumental on Wednesday, marshaling the defence to great effect and making a total of 20 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won). This was the third most in the league.
The Hammers may have been on the back foot for a large percentage of the game on Wednesday, but that didn’t stop Stewart Downing from showcasing his excellent wing play. He swung in 4 crosses on Wednesday, the most in the league, which took his total number of crosses this term to 27, also the most in the league. Downing is an industry best 7/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.
Downing may have swung in the most crosses for the Hammers, but he isn’t the player who has completed the most dribbles. Surprisingly, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Mohamed Diame tops the table for the Hammers with 44.
Swansea ended a run of 8 Premier League games without a win with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Fulham.
Michael Laudrup will have been delighted to welcome back Jonathan De Guzman from injury against the Cottagers, as the Dutchman has become an integral part of the Swans side. De Guzman produced a telling performance on his return, completing a total of 45 passes in the opposition half. De Guzman is 22/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.
Swansea may have dominated possession throughout the fixture but they still needed an assured performance from their back four to snuff out any Fulham forages forward. Chico Flores produced an inspired performance at the back to ensure that all attacks were quelled, making a total of 7 interceptions – the most in the league.
First choice ‘keeper Michel Vorm has had his fair share of injury problems this term leading to Gerhard Tremmel slotting in at various points over the season. Interestingly they have made a similar number of saves, 29 and 28 respectively, despite Vorm featuring in 3 more games than his German counterpart.
Fullbacks have become a crucial part of the modern game, with their threat down the flanks a key asset in a team’s offensive play. This adaptation to the modern game is demonstrated through Angel Rangel, who shows his desire to get forward at any opportunity – most clear through the fact that he completed a total of 48 passes in the opposition half in the last round of fixtures, the third most in the league and more than any other defender.
Cardiff vs Norwich 15:00
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to Old Trafford wasn’t a happy one as his Cardiff side went down 2-0 to the Champions.
Cardiff may have succumbed to a 2-0 defeat, but they were impressive at times throughout the match, boasting more possession than the champions – something that doesn’t happen too often at Old Trafford. This was, in part, down to the performance of central midfielder Peter Whittingham who completed a total of 29 passes in the opposition half.
Craig Bellamy may have reached the ripe old age of 34, but he is continuing to show his timeless class. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he made a total of 25 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, crosses, dribbles and shots on target). This was the third most in the Cardiff squad. Bellamy is 37/13 to score at any time with 888sport.com
Steven Caulker has had a wonderful season for Cardiff, and must be considered an outside contender for the World Cup this Summer. His tackling has been a highlight, as so far this season he has won a stunning 83% of the challenges that he has attempted.
One of Solskjaer’s first moves in this month’s transfer window has been to bring in striker Kenwyne Jones to add some much needed firepower. It is unsurprising to see why the Norwegian was so keen to bring in his man, as the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that no Cardiff player has hit the target with more than 50% of their efforts.
Nowich held Newcastle to a draw in their match at Carrow Road on Tuesday, producing the sort of gutsy performance that they’ll need to stay in the league.
Sebastien Bassong was integral to Norwich’s rearguard effort, producing an imperious performance against his former club. The EA SPORTS Player Performance shows that he made a total of 16 defensive contributions (based on clearances, blocks, interceptions and tackles won). This was the most in the Canaries squad.
However, to simply focus on Bassong would be doing a disservice to fellow centre back Ryan Bennett. The former Ipswich trainee made a total of 10 clearances – the fourth most in the league.
Robert Snodgrass has quickly established himself as a first team regular at Carrow Road since his arrival from Leeds, and impressed so much that he was voted their second best player last term. Operating on the wing, Snodgrass’ strength isn’t his dribbling ability, but his pinpoint crossing, and so far this campaign he has swung in a total of 19 crosses – the fourth most in the league. Snodgrass is an industry best 5/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.
It’s a real positive for Norwich that working in tandem with Snodgrass, they have electric winger Nathan Redmond on the other flank. ‘Keeper John Ruddy has recently stated that believes the former Birmingham man can force his way into Roy Hodgson’s plans this Summer, and looking at the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it looks as if his dribbling would be a useful addition in Brazil. So far this season, Redmond has completed 32 dribbles – the most in the Norwich squad.
Fulham vs Southampton
Fulham entertain Southampton, looking to bounce back following a disappointing loss to fellow strugglers Swansea.
Youngster Dan Burn started his second game in a row for the Cottagers operating at the heart of Fulham’s defence alongside veteran Brede Hangeland. Rene Meulensteen was impressed with the Northumberland-born youngster following his debut against Arsenal, and he produced another promising display against Swansea. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he made a total of 17 defensive contributions against the Swans (based on blocks, clearances, tackles won and interceptions), which was the most in the Fulham squad.
Ashkan Dejagah is one of Fulham’s ‘X factor players’ with excitement generated whenever he’s on the ball due to his outstanding dribbling ability. He completed 4 dribbles against the Swans, which was more than any other Fulham player, taking his overall season tally to 14. Dejagah is 13/2 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Since arriving at Craven Cottage in 2007, Aaron Hughes has established himself as a rock at the back for Fulham and looking at his performances so far this campaign, it isn’t difficult to see why. Hughes has a great eye for a tackle, perhaps demonstrated through the fact that he was won 70% of his challenges this term.
Giorgos Karagounis may be approaching the twilight of his career, but he has still shown his excellent passing ability this season. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he has completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 3.9 minutes.
Captain fantastic Adam Lallana scored the equalizer against Arsenal in an entertaining fixture which finished 2-2.
In an unusual state of affairs, Southampton bossed possession against the Gunners – something that doesn’t occur particularly often, and Morgan Schneiderlin should take much of the credit for this. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights that he completed 43 passes in the Arsenal’s half – the most in the Saints squad. Schneiderlin is 15/2 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Southampton showcased their excellent academy against Arsenal as an amazing 5 of the starting lineup had come through the youth system. Callum Chambers was one of the five, and was instrumental in securing a draw against title-chasing Arsenal as he won 83% of his tackles.
In the absence of Dejan Lovren, Maya Yoshida is the main man that will be required to step-up to the plate, and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he performed admirably against Wenger’s men. He made a total of 13 defensive contributions (the second most in the Saints squad).
Saints fans will be desperate that Luke Shaw stays at the club, following an impressive season that has seen many pundits tip him for a place in the England squad. He completed 3 crosses against Arsenal, one of which directly led to a goal, taking his overall tally for the season up to 13. This is the fourth most of any defender in the league, and the most of any Englishman.
Stoke vs Manchester United
A goal from in-form Adam Johnson condemned Stoke to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sunderland, and they host Manchester United buoyed by the arrival of Juan Mata.
One man who perhaps didn’t deserve to be on the losing side on Wednesday was central midfielder Glenn Whelan. He produced an assured display in central midfield, completing an impressive 36 passes in the opposition half, and winning 85% of his challenges.
Likewise, Erik Pieters produced an incredibly positive defensive display. The left back has featured in 22 of Stoke’s 23 games this season, and based on his performance on Wednesday, it isn’t difficult to see why. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he won 10 of his 11 challenges, which was more than any other player in the league.
Charlie Adam adds much needed guile and creativity to the Potters team, and his excellent array of passing was evident on Wednesday as he completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 3.1 minutes. You can find Charlie Adam at an industry best 6/1 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Peter Odemwingie slotted straight into Stoke’s starting lineup on Wednesday, adding some much needed pace to the Potters’ front line. In particular, Odemwingie impressed with his dribbling, completing a total of 3 dribbles – the most in the Stoke squad.
Perhaps boosted by the signing of Juan Mata, Manchester United returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over strugglers Cardiff.
The new man Juan made a sizeable impression on his debut for the Champions, with his outstanding range of passing clear through the game. He’s always had a great eye for picking a killer pass, and this skill of his was on show against Cardiff as he completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 3 minutes. Mata is 5/2 with 888sport.com to score at any point at the weekend.
Antonio Valencia has had his critics this term, with many commentators believing that he’s lost a yard or two of pace. However, he looked to be returning back to his best against the Bluebirds as he made a total of 34 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, crosses, dribbles and shots on target) – this was the most in the United squad.
Patrice Evra legs might be getting older, but his impressive eye for a tackle certainly hasn’t deteriorated as age has caught up with him. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights how impressive his tackling was on Tuesday, as he won 75% of the challenges that he attempted.
Javier Hernandez hasn’t featured as regularly as he would have liked for Manchester United over the past couple of years, but what is clear, is that he is a natural born finisher. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index adds cogency to this claim, as it shows that he has hit the target with a staggering 90% of his efforts this term.
Everton vs Aston Villa 15:00
Everton were well beaten in the Merseyside Derby last time out, as they went down 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday evening. Perhaps even more worrying to Roberto Martinez though will have been the injury picked up by Romelu Lukaku as well as the psychological impact of such a heavy defeat. He will no doubt have been working hard to ready his squad to pick themselves right back up this weekend.
The loss of Romelu Lukaku will be a huge blow for Martinez’s side, the young Belgian leading the Everton line with aplomb so far this season. He currently ranks fourth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total on-target shooting attempts with 25. This represents an solid overall shot accuracy rate of 59.5% for the season to date.
With Lukaku now injured, expect part of the goal-scoring burden to fall on Kevin Mirallas, who has been Everton’s most consistent attacking threat after Lukaku this term. He’s racked up 38 attempts on goal this season, second only in the Everton squad to his Belgian compatriot with 42. Mirallas is 17/10 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Despite eventually coming out on the losing side, Gareth Barry certainly didn’t stop trying to positively influence the game in the heart of the Everton midfield. Barry completed the fourth highest number of passes in the opponent’s half in the last round, with 46 to his name.
With Bryan Oviedo now unfortunately ruled out for the foreseeable future, Leighton Baines has once again become Everton’s most effective active defender. Baines has an excellent tackle success rate of 85.2% from 61 attempted challenges, conceding just 11 fouls along the way, making it easy to see why the Toffees were so eager to tie him down to a long-term contract.
Aston Villa played out a thriller on Wednesday night as their remarkable West Midlands derby with West Brom ended 4-3 in Villa’s favour thanks to Christian Benteke’s penalty. An extraordinary first half ended 3-3 but Paul Lambert will know that his defence cannot afford to be so lax against a potent Everton side smarting from their own derby defeat.
The combative nature of Karim El Ahmadi has seen him draw the attention of the officials more than he would like so far this term. Although he has an excellent tackle success rate of 75.3% from 89 total challenges, he’s also racked up the joint fourth highest number of fouls in the league this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 37.
With Christian Benteke now starting to look as thought he is once again approaching his best form, some of the goalscoring pressure will be relieved from Gabriel Agbonlahor. The Englishman has responded well to some added responsibility up top for Villa this season though, his 21 attempts on goal meaning he’s scored on average once every 3 shots he’s taken. Agbonlahor is 4/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Although often unheralded due to the efficient way he goes about his work, Ashley Westwood has nonetheless been crucial to the Villa cause this term. He’s completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other player in the Villa squad, with 436 to his name.
Ciaran Clark continues to grow into position as one of the senior members of the Villa squad and one of the first names on Paul Lambert’s team sheet. He’s amassed more defensive contributions than any of his colleagues this term, with a total of 218 putting him 37 ahead of his nearest rival in Ron Vlaar.
Hull vs Tottenham 15:00
Hull continued their run of slow recent form on Tuesday as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Steve Bruce’s problems were also compounded by Allan McGregor’s sending off meaning the Scot will be a crucial absence against Spurs this weekend.
Curtis Davies has been nothing short of a rock at the back for Steve Bruce’s side this term, his statistics stacking up with those of any defender in the league. He’s completed 292 total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions tackles won) this term, placing him fourth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Ahmed Elmohamady is another who’s been superb in defence for Hull this term, toppling Liam Rosenior as his side’s most effective tackler. The Egyptian international has completed an excellent 81.6% of his 49 attempted challenges this season.
Expect Tom Huddlestone to be central to the Hull effort as they look to shore up their position above the relegation zone. The former Spurs midfielder will no doubt relish the chance to face his old club this weekend and add to his already impressive statistics for the season. He leads the Hull squad for both passes completed in the opponent’s half (481) and total assists (4). Huddlestone is an industry-best 23/2 to get himself on the scoresheet at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Getting the ball to new arrival Shane Long in dangerous positions could be the key to success for Hull’s forward line for the remainder of this campaign. Steve Bruce’s side have struggled for goals at times this season, but Long knows where the goal is and will be looking to add to his tally of 22 attempted shots this season against Spurs.
Despite a controversial penalty and resulting dismissal for Danny Rose, Spurs boss Tim Sherwood had few complaints following his side’s 1-5 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday night. Sherwood even went as far to hail City as, ‘the best team on the planet’, but he’ll no doubt be looking forward to getting his side back on track at the KC Stadium on Saturday.
Emmanuel Adebayor has been a revelation since being brought back into the first team by Tim Sherwood following his exile under Andre Villas-Boas. He’s now racked up some of the most impressive shooting statistics in the Tottenham squad, working the ‘keeper with 72.7% of his 11 attempted shots and bagging 5 goals in the process. Adebayor is 9/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Mousa Dembele has been outstanding when given his chance this season, the Belgian midfielder displaying exactly the kind of dynamism which prompted Spurs to lure him away from Fulham. He ranks second in the Tottenham squad for total attacking contributions (shots on goal, dribbles, crosses, assists) with 62, and has also established a superb tackle success rate of 92.7% from 55 attempted challenges.
Unsuprisingly, Michael Dawson still leads the way when it comes to all-round defensive statistics for Spurs this term. He tops the squad with a massive 278 defensive contributions (tackles won, blocks, clearances, interceptions) to his name, a figure that is sure to please his new manager.
Midfielder Christian Eriksen is beginning to show just why he was so highly rated upon leaving Ajax for White Hart Lane, his combination of vision and technique starting to unlock opposition defences. He’s compiled the joint highest number of assists in the Tottenham squad with 4, as well as completing 352 passes in the opponent’s half according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Sunday 2nd February
West Bromwich Albion vs Liverpool 13:30
West Brom are just three points above the relegation zone, while a Liverpool win could see them go one point behind third place Chelsea who play Manchester City Monday night. At Anfield earlier in the season Liverpool beat West Brom 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Luis Suarez and a goal from Daniel Sturridge, with James Morrison netting a consolation from the penalty spot.
West Brom have struggled for goals somewhat this term, with last season’s top scorer Romelu Lukaku now at Everton. Despite the signings of Anelka and Victor Anichebe this summer, they have only managed 3 goals between them. This is more surprising considering Anichebe has an impressive 64% shot accuracy according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Despite top scorer Saido Berahino only sitting on 3 goals this season, the ball appears to be regularly getting into box from the flanks. Morgan Amalfitano has put the ball into the box 22 times this season. Only Ahmed Elmohamady and Stewart Downing have crossed the ball more. Berahino is 13/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Claudio Yacob has made 116 tackles this season from midfield in his 20 appearances, the joint highest in the league with Stoke’s Erik Pieters. He also has an impressive 72% tackle success rate.
Jonas Olsson has been an important part of West Brom’s defence this term. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows he’s made an impressive 273 total defensive contributions (blocks, tackles won, clearances, interceptions), the seventh best in the league this season.
Confidence in the Liverpool squad will be flying after a convincing 4-0 win over city rivals Everton Tuesday night, their biggest win over Everton since 1982.
Jordan Henderson has grown as a player during this campaign and is clearly a major part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans, playing every game and more minutes (2049) than any other Liverpool outfield player. It’s worth noting that with Henderson hoping to secure a place in England’s World Cup squad this summer, Everton’s Gareth Barry is the only Englishman to have more attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, crosses, dribbles) this term (718) than Henderson (667).
Steven Gerrard will be high on confidence having scored in his last two games. Despite playing less of an attacking role compared to previous seasons the England captain still manages a shot on average once every 61 minutes, complementing an overall 62% shot accuracy rate. Gerrard is 13/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Luis Suarez has been averaging a shot every 19 minutes, with a grand total of 85 attempts on goal to his name this season, 27 more than his nearest rival in Sergio Aguero. With a 59% shot accuracy rate, it’s no surprise he remains the Premier Leagues top scorer so far this season.
However, despite Liverpool’s fantastic attacking displays, they have been vulnerable defensively at times. Simon Mignolet has made 73 saves this season, more than any keeper in the top half of the table. In front of him, Martin Skrtel has had to maintain his good form, making 22 blocks so far this term.
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace 16:00
Arsenal dropped what could prove to be a crucial two points as they drew 2-2 with Southampton at St Mary’s on Tuesday night. A back-and-forth contest saw the Gunners fail to establish their customary dominance of possession in the first half, but goals from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla rescued a point for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Olivier Giroud’s goal against Southampton was a great example of the fantastic technique the Frenchman possesses for a big man. However, Gunners fans will perhaps be hoping the Frenchman can make more of his chances when in front of goal for the rest of the season. Giroud ranks second in the league for total off-target scoring attempts, with 34 to his name so far this term. Giroud is 13/19 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Key to Arsenal’s impressive defensive record this season has been the outstanding form of Laurent Koscielny, the Frenchman establishing himself as one of the premier defenders in the league this term. His ability to read the game has been second to none and he currently ranks joint third in the league for total interceptions with 61 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Koscielny’s partnership with Per Mertesacker has been another building block of Arsenal’s success, the pair establishing themselves as Arsene Wenger’s first choice centre-half combination. The German has been in impressive form in his own right as well though, racking up the joint second highest number of interceptions in the last round of fixtures with 6.
The impact of Mesut Ozil has been a noticeable part of Arsenal’s success so far this term, the former Real Madrid maestro adding even more guile and technique to an already talented Arsenal midfield. Such has been his impact, he’s now supplanted Manchester City’s Yaya Toure at the summit of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total passes completed in the opponent’s half with an incredible 856 to his name. This represents an average of one every 1.84 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.
The Tony Pulis revival at Crystal Palace continued apace this week as the Eagles beat Hull 1-0 at Selhurst Park to move to 14th in the league, five points clear of the relegation zone. A well-taken goal from Jason Puncheon secured all three points for Pulis’ side but they will face a stern test of their newfound defensive solidity at the Emirates this weekend.
Mile Jedinak continues to be the heartbeat of Crystal Palace this term, the midfielder excelling in his role as their defensive enforcer. He ranks third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total tackles won with 77, this figure representing an overall success rate of 74.8% for the imposing Australian.
Jason Puncheon’s powerful strike against Hull will have come as little surprise to Palace fans who have been keeping an eye on his shooting statistics. The former Southampton man has maneuvered his way into more scoring positions than other Palace player this term, letting fly with a squad-high 33 attempts this season. Puncheon is 13/2 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Defender Damien Delaney is on the cusp of a personal statistical landmark after some impressive performances so far this season. He’s been intervening repeatedly at the back for Palace this term and is currently sitting on 199 clearances for the season, placing him joint fourth in the league.
Marouane Chamakh will need to be aware of giving away too many fouls this weekend, his former club possessing the quality to exploit any repeated indiscretions. He gave away the joint highest number of fouls in the last round of fixtures with 5.
Monday 3rd February
Manchester City vs Chelsea 20:00
This top of the table clash could be pivotal in the race for the title, with a Chelsea win sending them level on points with City. Earlier in the season Chelsea came out on top 2-1 thanks to a last minute winner from Fernando Torres.
Midweek City were flying scoring 5 against a Spurs team who had previously been enjoying a strong run under new manager Tim Sherwood. City’s last loss came on 10 November at the hands of Sunderland.
Chelsea will be hoping Sergio Aguero, who has 15 league goals this season, misses out through injury after going off with a hamstring injury midweek. Only Luis Suarez has scored more than the Argentinean.
Whilst Aguero would be a loss to City, you know that any potential replacement will always be top quality. City have scored more goals than anyone this season, with an incredible total of 68 already this term, with Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo chipping in with 16 league goals between them. Dzeko is 6/4 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows only Mesut Ozil has made more passes (856) in the opposition half than Yaya Toure (826) this season. Toure is also the league’s top scoring midfielder this season with 12 goals, ahead of Aaron Ramsey’s 8. Starving the big Ivorian of possession must be central to Jose Mourinho’s plans this weekend.
Fernandinho has partnered Toure many times in the middle of the park and has helped to solidify the midfield, making 107 tackles and winning 62% of them. However, he has also committed 37 fouls the sixth highest in the league so he will need to mindful of his technique this weekend.
Pablo Zabaleta made 11 tackles against Tottenham, the highest total of any player during the last round. The only defender in the league to have attempted more total tackles is Stoke’s Erik Pieters with 116, compared to the City defender’s 99.
Chelsea were frustrated by West Ham midweek, playing out a goalless draw, much to the ire of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho who saw his side thwarted by some solid defending by the Hammers.
Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Cech only had to make 1 save against West Ham, a stat which is shown in stark contrast to that of West Ham ‘keeper Adrian who made 9 stops, more than any other ‘keeper in midweek.
City will need to watch Willian and Eden Hazard this weekend, the two providing much of the Chelsea’s attacking impetus along the flanks so far this season. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that between them this term they have a remarkable combined attacking contributions (shots on target, dribbles, crosses, assists) total of 112.
Jose Mourinho clearly sees Ramires as an integral cog in the Chelsea team, the Brazilian having played in all but one league game this season. He performances have warranted this faith though, the midfielder attempting 114 tackles and winning 61% of them. Only Claudio Yacob and Erik Pieters have attempted more tackles this season.
As you would suspect from a Jose Mourinho team, Chelsea have the best defensive record in the Barclay’s Premier League. John Terry has been an important factor in this regard, playing every minute of every league game. The defender has made 161 clearances, 28 interceptions and 16 blocks this term according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, an admirable total.