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
Saturday 8th February
Liverpool vs Arsenal 12:45
This game against Liverpool is the first of a run of fixtures that could define Arsenal’s season. With Manchester United next in the league, and Liverpool and Bayern Munich in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively, Arsenal will want to start this run confidently. They host Liverpool who will want to get back to winning ways, having dropped 4 points in their last 3 games.
Martin Skrtel will have been frustrated by the result against West Brom as he produced an impressive defensive performance to help keep the Baggies at bay. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he cleared the ball a total of 17 times, with only Ben Turner (19) and Brede Hangeland (20) making more.
Following Theo Walcott’s season-ending injury, Raheem Sterling will be hoping to be a surprise inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s squad this Summer. Sterling showed his excellent dribbiling ability in the last round of Premier League fixtures, completing a total of 9 dribbles – the second most in the league. Sterling is 17/5 with 888sport.com to score at any point this weekend.
Daniel Sturridge scored again last weekend, from his only shot of the game against West Brom. He has now scored 5 in his last 4 games, and 14 for the season. He is the top English goal scorer this season, and also has 4 assists. According to EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Wayne Rooney is the only English striker to provide more of an attacking contribution (100) than Sturridge (81) this season.
Daniel Sturridge scored again against West Brom, taking his tally to five in his last four games. He has been an incredible offensive force all campaign, and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has made the second most offensive contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, crosses, dribbles and shots on target) of any English striker with 81.
Arsenal’s win over Palace on Sunday means they have gone back top of the table. However, like Liverpool they have key players out injured with Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and new on-loan signing Kim Kallstrom on the sidelines.
Arsenal may have dominated proceedings against Crystal Palace, but they still had to be wary of any counter-attacks which has been their un-doing in seasons gone by. Sitting at the base of the midfield, Mikel Arteta played an essential role in snuffing out Palace’s forages forward as he won an impressive 85% of his challenges on Sunday. Arteta is 13/2 with 888sport.com to score at any point this weekend.
Arsenal are known for their passing flowing football, something that was evident over the win over Palace. Arsenal players made up 4 of the top 5 places in terms of passes completed in the opposition half, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Manchester City’s Yaya Toure joined Arteta (79), Ozil (77), Cazorla (69) and Oxlade-Chamberlain (45) to make up the top 5.
Arsenal have been criticized in recent weeks for failing to buy a striker in the January transfer window, but Arsene Wenger has constantly stressed that he’s happy with the resources at his disposal. Despite limited minutes and starts this season, Nicklas Bendtner has the second best goals per minute ratio in the league, averaging a goal every 78 minutes.
Chelsea vs Newcastle 15:00
A managerial masterclass from Jose Mourinho meant that Chelsea left the Etihad with all 3 points ending Manchester City’s 100% home record, and they host Newcastle who are still coming to grips with the departure of talisman Yohan Cabaye.
Prior to their loss on Monday, Manchester City had been a force to be reckoned with at home, scoring at least one goal in every home game since 2010. It was always going to be tough for the Blues to keep them at bay, and much of their rearguard effort can be credited to centre half Gary Cahill. The England man’s career has come on leaps and bounds since joining Chelsea, and his performance on Monday could arguably be his best game to date. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Cahill made a total of 19 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, tackles won and interceptions), the most in the Chelsea squad.
Mourinho set-up his team with 3 holding midfielders, and instructed the players to attack on the break. Shouldering the burden for the counter attack were midfield duo Eden Hazard and Willian, who were charged with producing the creative sparks that could hand Chelsea the win, and throughout the match on Monday they demonstrated their excellent passing ability. The pair completed 25 passes in the opposition half respectively, more than any other players in the Chelsea squad.
Hazard’s outstanding ability on the counter was particularly evident in the number of times that he beat his opposition man. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he completed 11 dribbles on Monday, more than any other player in the league. Hazard is 7/5 with 888sport.com to score at anytime on Saturday.
Calls for John Terry to return to the international fold will continue to grow stronger if he maintains the fine form that he’s shown all term. He’s the only outfield player in the Chelsea team to have featured in every minute of the campaign so far, and in the process has made the most defensive contributions (230).
If Cheick Tiote was affected by the departure of his former central midfield partner he hardly showed it on Saturday, as the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he produced an excellent offensive performance. He completed a total of 35 passes in Sunderland’s half on Saturday, at an average of a pass every 2.6 minutes.
Shola Ameobi has earned himself the name ‘Mackem Slayer’ as a result of his excellent goal-scoring record against Sunderland, and he will consider himself unlucky not to have added to his already impressive tally. He registered a total of 6 shots on Saturday, which was the second most in the league. Ameobi is an industry best 13/2 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Sylvain Marveaux will be hoping for more minutes on the field now that Cabaye has departed, particularly if Alan Pardew continues with his experiment of moving Ben Arfa more central. He hasn’t featured as much as he would have wished, but when he has been on the field, the Frenchman has showcased his excellent eye for a pass completing a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.5 minutes.
Aston Villa vs West Ham 15:00
A battling performance from Aston Villa was not quite enough to prevent them slipping to a 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Leandro Bacuna had opened the scoring with a neat finish, but it was a superb freekick from Kevin Mirallas which settled matters to leave Villa 10th in the league.
Unsurprisingly, Christian Benteke has continued to be Aston Villa’s most consistent threat in front of goal this season, the big front man starting to find some of his most potent form. No player in the Villa squad can top his 37 attempts on goal this campaign according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Feeding Benteke for much of this season has been his partner in crime, Andreas Weimann, the Austrian providing guile to complement Benteke’s power. Not only does he lead the Villa squad for assists this term (4), he’s also completed the third highest total number of attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses) for Villa this season (52). If he gets the ball in dangerous positions this weekend he could be a real handful for the West Ham defence. Benteke is 11/10 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
‘Concrete Ron’ has been living up to his moniker this season, compling some highly impressive defensive statistics. Not only does Vlaar have the second highest total the Villa squad for defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, tackles won, interceptions)(184), he’s also won a superb 86.4% of his tackles this season whilst only conceding 6 fouls.
With Andy Carroll suspended, disrupting the play of Kevin Nolan could be pivotal to the Villa’s chances of success this weekend. Key to this strategy will be Karim El Ahmadi who has been hunting down opponents all season in the Villa midfield. He’s attempted more tackles than any other Villa player this term with 90, winning an excellent 76% of them.
A brace from captain Kevin Nolan secured what could prove to be a crucial three points for Sam Allardyce’s West Ham, as they beat Swansea 2-0 last weekend. There was still a major blackspot on the day for Hammers fans though as Andy Carroll was sent off following a controversial altercation with Chico Flores.
As mentioned, with their main target man unavailable, Kevin Nolan will likely be one of the main goal threats this weekend. He is the Hammers’ joint top goal scorer with 4, and he remains their most prolific midfield shooter with 29 attempts to him name according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Mark Noble remains West Ham’s most effective distributor of the ball this season, but what is remarkable is just how far ahead of his teammates he currently is in this regard. Noble has completed an admirable 625 passes in the opponent’s half this term, at an average rate of one every 3.3 minutes, yet his nearest colleague (Stewart Downing) is a full 336 passes behind him. Sam Allardyce will surely be hoping for a more even distribution of the midfield workload for the remainder of the season.
When on the pitch, Matt Jarvis has provided some much needed width and effective service to his frontmen. He’s whipped in 16 crosses so far this season, with 4 assists to his name. Jarvis is an industry best 8/1 to get on the scoresheet himself and score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
No player has been more defensively committed to the West Ham cause than James Collins this season. He leads the Hammers’ squad for blocks with 29 and with Christian Benteke to contend with this weekend, you get the feeling he’ll need to be as equally committed to contain the imposing Belgian.
Norwich vs Manchester City 15:00
Despite Robert Snodgrass’ early strike, Norwich could not hold onto their lead and eventually lost 2-1 at Cardiff last weekend to leave them just two points above the relegation zone.
Leroy Fer has been a solid acquisition for the Norwich midfield this term, providing some strength and stability in the middle of the park for the Canaries. At times he has been somewhat lax in his defensive discipline though. He currently ranks second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for fouls with 40.
John Ruddy continues to be one of the busiest ‘keepers in the league this season, something his manager will want his defence to address is they are to stay out of the bottom three. Only Cardiff’s David Marshall (95) can top Ruddy’s tally of 80 saves this term.
Striker Gary Hooper has been turning in some solid performances this season as he continues to settle in well to life at Carrow Road. With Nathan Redmond topping the pile at Norwich for attempts on goal (36), Hooper still has an admirable total to his name (23), and even Redmond cannot match Hooper’s squad-best shot accuracy rate of 65.2%. Hooper is 15/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
No Norwich player has been more efficient in their use of the ball in opposition territory this season than Alexander Tettey. On average he’s completed a pass in the opponent’s half once every 3.6 minutes this campaign, a squad-best.
Manchester City were unable to outmuscle Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea on Monday, eventually succumbing to their first home league defeat of the season. Manuel Pellegrini will be looking for them to bounce back from their 1-0 loss immediately against Norwich to ensure the gap between his side and Arsenal is not allowed to grow any wider.
Such is their strength in depth Manchester City have still been able to thrive without Sergio Aguero when necessary. Having him back is always a boon though, given that the Argentinean currently ranks second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for shots on target this season with 35. As an overall representation of his stats this term, this gives him the best overall shot accuracy rate (60.3%) of any player in the top 10 in the league for on-target attempts.
Although his defensive abilities are well known, Aleskander Kolarov has certainly been making his presence felt in front of goal this season. No defender in the league can top his 27 attempts on goal. Kolarov is 39/10 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Fellow defensive colleague Pablo Zabaleta is another who has been impressing once again this season, allowing some of the more attacking-minded players in front of him to flourish thanks to some exceptional defending. Not only is he one of a small group of players to have attempted more than 100 tackles (108), he’s also won 74.1% of them.
He endured a difficult time against Nemanja Matic on Monday evening but it’s difficult to see Yaya Toure’s influence waning any time soon given his form to date this season. He ranks second in the league, behind only Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 874 at an average rate of one every 2.3 minutes.
Crystal Palace vs West Brom 15:00
With both teams just a point above the relegation zone this is definitely a match that can be classified as a ‘six-pointer’. Arsenal may have ended Palace’s 2 game winning streak, but results have undoubtedly improved under manager Tony Pulis, and they host West Brom who are still looking for their first victory under Pepe Mel.
Crystal Palace may have succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, but if it wasn’t for the performance of Damien Delaney, the score line could have been a lot worse. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he made a total of 15 defensive contributions, the most in the Eagles squad.
Another player who demonstrated his excellent defensive ability against Arsenal was full back Joel Ward. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he attempted the most challenges in the Palace squad, and won an impressive 75% of them.
Crystal Palace are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season, but in Maraoune Chamakh, Tony Pulis has a man who can score the goals to propel them to safety. The Moroccan is Palace’s top scorer with 4 goals, but amazingly, these goals have come from only 7 attempts. Pulis may have installed new confidence in the squad as a whole, but he should be encouraging the former Arsenal man to be more confident in front of goal and take more shots! You can find Chamakh at 28/11 with 888sport.com to score at any point this weekend.
West Brom will be happy with an unexpected point last weekend after going behind to top 4 hopefuls Liverpool. The spirit shown to get back into the game will be vital in the coming months, as the Baggies battle to avoid the drop.
Zoltan Gera is into his second spell with West Brom, and has come to establish
himself as a firm favourite amongst the Baggies faithful. He may be into the twilight of his career, having reached the ripe old age of 34, but he hasn’t lost his excellent knack of playing a key pass. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he completed an impressive 28 passes in the opposition half on Sunday.
Claudio Yacob has played an important role in a defensive midfield role for West Brom this season. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Yacob has made more tackles than any other player this season with 126, with a success rate of 71%.
Now that Shane Long has departed the West Midlands club, the other strikers will have to bear the brunt of scoring the goals necessary to keep West Brom up. Berahino will be one man who feels the responsibility, particularly as he has the best strike rate of any West Brom striker – averaging a goal every 231 minutes. Berahino is 17/5 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Southampton vs Stoke 15:00
Three goals from England’s triumvirate Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert guided the Saints to a convincing 3-0 victory over strugglers Fulham, and helped sustain their position in the top half of the table. They host Stoke, buoyant after a terrific victory over Manchester United.
The England boys may have hit the headlines after laying on three goals for the Saints, but the performance of holding midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin should not be overlooked. Sitting at the base of Southampton’s midfield 5, Schneiderlin bossed the midfield to great effect, setting up attack after attack and completing a total of 35 passes in the opposition half. You can find Schneiderlin at an industry best 13/2 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
In the absence of Dejan Lovren the rest of the Southampton defence will have to up their game, as he had established himself as the rock at the heart of the Saints’ rearguard effort. Jose Fonte did so on Saturday, making a total of 21 defensive contributions (tackles won, blocks, interceptions and clearances) – this was the most in the Southampton squad and the fourth most in the league.
With Ashley Cole falling down the pecking order at Chelsea, Luke Shaw must think that he has every chance of making Roy Hodgson’s squad for Brazil come this Summer. The Southampton academy graduate was impressive when going forward against Fulham, completing a total of 27 passes in the opposition half.
Rickie Lambert added two assists to his goal on Saturday, taking his overall goalscoring contribution total (goals and assists) for the season to 14. This performance meant that he overtook Adam Lallana (13) and Jay Rodriguez (13) in the Southampton table for goalscoring contributions made.
An inspirational performance from Charlie Adam meant that Mark Hughes’ men moved up to 11th in the table after victory over the Champions.
Charlie Adam may have scored two goals for the Potters, but to just focus on them would take credit away from an excellent overall offensive performance. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Adam made more offensive contributions, based on shots on target, crosses, passes in the opposition half, and dribbles, than any other player in the Stoke squad (20). Adam is 21/4 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Much of the credit for keeping the Champions at bay on Saturday should be given to defender Geoff Cameron. The US international is an extremely competent defender, demonstrated through his ability to operate in any position in the back four, and this excellent ability of his was on show on Saturday as he made a total of 17 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won). The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that this was more than any other Stoke player.
Erik Pieters won another 3 tackles on Saturday, taking his overall tally to the season to an outstanding 87. The Dutch left back was a shrewd signing from manager Mark Hughes, and his excellent tackling ability is clear through the fact that he has won the second most challenges in the league.
Another Stoke player who has superb tackling ability is centre half Robert Huth. The former Chelsea man has become a stalwart of Stoke’s back four, and with a tackle win percentage of 83% this campaign it isn’t hard to see why!
Sunderland vs Hull 15:00
Gus Poyet’s celebration may have been slightly more muted than Di Canio’s knee slide on the grass in the last Tyne and Wear derby, but this victory was just as important for the Mackems. They host Hull, who held Champions League hopefuls Tottenham to a draw on Saturday
Sunderland may have brought in a host of new signings in the last transfer window, but arguably the most successful of the group has been midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung, and the midfielder produced another assured display in the centre of the park for Sunderland. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he completed an impressive 25 passes in the opposition half against the Magpies, the most in the Sunderland squad.
Adam Johnson’s hopes of an international recall will grow more realistic day by day if he maintains his current level of performance. With Walcott injured, the right midfield slot is up for grabs and Johnson showed his excellent wing-play by completing 2 dribbles, the most in the Sunderland squad, and swinging in 3 crosses, also the most. If you fancy Johnson to score again, head to 888sport.com who have him at 5/2 to score at any point.
Local lad Jack Colback will have been delighted to get on the scoresheet against Newcastle, as he has been at the club since the age of 10. Colback was instrumental in Sunderland’s victory, particularly as his hard-tackling helped boss the centre of the park. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he won 80% of his challenges on Saturday.
John O’Shea’s 13 defensive contributions on Saturday (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won) took his overall tally for the season to 196. This is comfortably the most in the Sunderland squad and demonstrates how vital the former Manchester United man will be to Sunderland’s hopes of staying in the division.
Shane Long’s first goal for Hull was enough to secure a draw against Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham, and moved the Tigers up to 13th in the table.
Shane Long may have scored the goal on Saturday, but fellow striker Nikica Jelavic will have considered himself unlucky not to have got onto the score sheet himself. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he took 5 shots against Spurs, and hit the target with 3 of them.
Tom Huddlestone has won plaudits this season for his wide range of passing, but he was clearly prepared to do the dirty work against his former club Tottenham. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Huddlestone won an impressive 75% of his challenges against Spurs.
Steve Bruce was desperate to bring in striker Nikica Jelavic in the January transfer window to help boost his misfiring front line. When examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it’s clear to see why Bruce was desperate to get his man. So far this season, Jelavic has taken a shot at an average of a shot every 29 minutes – this is a better rate than any other player in the Hull squad. Jelavic is 11/4 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
As the World Cup draws closer and closer, centre half Curtis Davies must be secretly thinking that he has a chance of making the squad. So far this term Davies has made a total of 306 defensive contributions, this is the fourth most in the league and the second most of any English defender.
Swansea vs Cardiff 17:30
Swansea endured another frustrating outing against West Ham on Saturday, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat thanks to a brace from Hammers captain Kevin Nolan. A difficult weekend was followed by the news that Michael Laudrup would no longer continue as Swansea manager, with Garry Monk taking charge ahead of this week’s game against local rivals Cardiff.
Despite struggling for sustained form at times this season, Swansea have not abandoned their philosophy of utilising their superior passing technique over more bullish tactics according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. They are the only team outside the top 10 in the Premier League to have two or more players featured in the top 20 for passes completed in the opponent’s half (Jonathan de Guzman – 697; Jonjo Shelvey – 636).
Indeed, this is a philosophy shared throughout this talented squad. Swansea are the only team in the bottom half of the table to have six or more players in their squad currently with 400 or more completed passes in the opponent’s half to their names (Shelvey, Chico, Ben Davies, Jonathan de Guzman, Angel Rangel, Jose Canas).
Chico Flores will have a vital role to play in stopping a Cardiff strike force high on confidence after their comeback against West Ham last weekend. The Spanish centre-half has made more total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) than any other Swans player this term, with an overall tally of 270.
Goals have been hard to come by in recent weeks for the Swans, and the fans will no doubt be keen to see Michu back fit and firing sooner rather than later. Only he and Nathan Dyer have shot accuracy rates of greater than 50%, Michu so far working the ‘keeper with 56.5% of his 23 attempts on goal and Dyer currently sitting on 56.3% from 16 shots. Michu is 5/4 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Local derbies are always heated affairs and even when players have not grown up with this kind of rivalry, the electric atmosphere in the stands can often filter down to the pitch. Angel Rangel may well need to be mindful of his tackling technique as a result this weekend, as although he has an admirable tackle success rate of 66.2% from 68 attempts, he’s also committed the second highest number of fouls in the Swansea squad with 27. A cool head in the heat of battle could be crucial.
A stirring fightback from Cardiff saw them eventually emerge as 2-1 winners over Norwich to give them their first three points under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Two goals in quick succession from Craig Bellamy and Kenwyne Jones cancelled out Robert Snodgrass’ early strike in a vital win for the Bluebirds which lifts them off the foot of the Premier League table.
Solskjaer was renowned for being a poacher with supreme instincts during his illustrious career in English football with Manchester Utd, and fellow Old Trafford alumnus Frazier Campbell will be hoping to continue his forward-education under his new manager. On his day Campbell can be lethal, but he has enjoyed an up-and-down season so far according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, so far being on target with only 41% of his 27 attempts on goal.
Jordon Mutch has been a consistent threat for the Bluebirds this term, repeatedly turning in some great performances in big fixtures. They don’t come much bigger than this weekend’s clash though, so expect Mutch to be central once again, much as he was against Norwich. Although he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet, he had more attempts on goal during the last round than any other Cardiff player with 4, 50% of which were on-target. Mutch is 13/2 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.
Much like Angel Rangel for the Swans though, Mutch will have to watch his discipline in what will no doubt be a fiery arena for both sets of players. He’s conceded more fouls than any other Cardiff player this season (30), as well as having the lowest tackle success rate of any Cardiff midfielder to have attempted more than 30 tackles (58.1% success rate from 43 attempts). Expect Solskjaer to be looking to channel his talented midfielder’s commitment in a more positive way this weekend.
Disrupting Swansea’s potential dominance in the middle of the park could be crucial to Cardiff’s chances this weekend, as if you let the likes of Shelvey, Dyer and De Guzman get into their rhythm then it’s always going to be a struggle to get the ball back from them. Key to this strategy could be Gary Medel, the diminutive Chilean being a ferocious defender and expert in breaking up the opposition’s patterns.
According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s made more interceptions than any other Cardiff player this season, with 42 to his name.
Sunday 9th February
Tottenham vs Everton 13:30
Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw by Hull at the KC Stadium last weekend as Tim Sherwood’s side ground out a point thanks to Paulinho’s second-half goal.
Michael Dawson continues to be superb at the back for Spurs this term. Not only does he lead the Tottenham squad by a distance for total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) with 298, he’s also completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other player in the top 10 in this category (340) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
As evidenced last weekend, Paulinho certainly has the ability to pop up with the occasional goal from midfield, but it is in his defensive work that he has been excelling for Spurs this term. The Brazilian has a tackle success rate of 75.5% from 53 attempts so far this season, the second best rate in the Tottenham squad behind Mousa Dembele (92.7% from 55 challenges).
Emnnauel Adebayor has been in fine form since returning to the first team under Tim Sherwood, the Togolese striker taking some of the goal-scoring burden away from summer signing Roberto Soldado. Adebayor has racked up five goals so far this season, an excellent return from the 12 total shots he’s had so far. Adebayor is 9/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Anyone who watches Tottenham will have noted how much Kyle Walker enjoys getting forward, the pacy right-back always searching for an opportunity to add extra impetus to Spurs’ attacks. Some of his passing statistics are nonetheless a surprise though, with Walker leading the Tottenham squad for total passes completed in the opponent’s half with 646 to his name.
A well-taken goal from Steven Naismith, combined with a stunning Kevin Mirallas free kick, gave Everton all three points as they beat Aston Villa 2-1 last time out. The win keeps Roberto Martinez’s side in the hunt for a Champions League spot but they face a Tottenham side with similar ambitions this weekend.
All Everton fans know that Mirallas is capable of some truly special football on his day, something the Belgian proved yet again last weekend. He has been a constant threat for the Toffees this term, ranking behind only Ross Barkley (99) in the Everton squad for total attacking contributions (assists, shots on goal, dribbles, crosses) with 97.
Gareth Barry has been a superb addition to the Everton engine room, providing stability and experience to the flair of the likes of Mirallas and Barkley. The England international has been key to almost all of the Toffees play in opposition territory this term and currently ranks third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 747.
Leighton Baines continues to stake an impressive claim for the starting left-back berth for England this summer, the Everton stalwart consistently producing some of the best defensive statistics in the league. Not only had he won 85.5% of his 62 attempted challenges this season, he’s also racked up 496 completed passes in the opponent’s half. Baines is an industry best 7/1 with 888sport.com to get his name on the scoresheet against Spurs and score at any time this weekend.
The partnership of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin at the back for Everton continues to be a solid one. Between them they’ve combined for a superb 534 defensive contributions (blocks, interceptions, tackles won, clearances) this season.
Manchester United vs Fulham 16:00
Manchester United host Fulham on Sunday, looking to bounce back following a disappointing result against Stoke last time out.
Manchester United fans will be delighted to hear that Robin Van Persie has returned from injury, as they’ve undoubtedly missed his goalscoring ability this term. The former Arsenal man has scored 9 times in only 13 appearances, at an impressive strike rate of a goal ever 117 minutes.
David Moyes will be hoping that Juan Mata is the man to spark some creativity into Manchester United’s struggling midfield. Despite having limited playing time at Chelsea, Mata managed to register 4 assists. If you compare this to the rest of the United squad, only Wayne Rooney (11) and Adnan Januzaj (4) can match or better Mata. Mata is 7/5 with 888sport.com to score at any point on Saturday.
Tom Cleverley has had his critics at points this season with many citing his lack of creativity as a reason for starting other midfielders ahead of him. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, however, goes some way to refuting these claims as it shows that he completed a pass Stoke’s half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.5 minutes.
United have struggled to find a settled back four this season, with Patrice Evra the only player to have featured in virtually every game. Nemanja Vidic hasn’t played as much as he would have wished, but he’s still managed to make 162 clearances in that time (the most in the Red Devils squad).
Defensively United have struggled to have a settled back 4. Evra has played all but 1 game this season but no other United defender has played more than 17 games. Chris Smalling has played 17 games and has an impressive 91%, only Nemanja Vidic has a higher ratio at 93%. Despite missing 9 games Vidic has made more clearances than any other United player with 162.
Fulham’s defence has been shaky in recent months, with the Cottagers boasting the unwanted record for the most goals conceded in the league. They conceded 3 at the weekend, but if it wasn’t for Brede Hangeland, it could have been more. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that the Norwegian cleared the ball 20 times – more than any other player in the league.
The signing of Lewis Holtby will boost Fulham as they will look to utilise his undoubted creativity. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Holtby has completed a pass in the opposition half at a rate of a pass every 2.8 minutes, which is a better rate than any other Fulham player. You can find Holtby at 7/1 with 888sport.com to score at any point this weekend.
If Holtby is to play in the number 10 role for Fulham, he’ll need at least one holding midfielder to shield the back four whilst he works his offensive magic. Fortunately for Fulham, in Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell they have two midfielders who should slot into this position with ease. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that they have won 70 and 62 tackles respectively.