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.
Data supplied by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Select and manage your own team of stars with at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/ or with FIFA Ultimate team.
Southampton v Everton – 12:45, Saturday 15th August
Two late goals, from Shane Long and Ross Barkley respectively, handed Southampton and Everton 2-2 draws in the last round of Premier League fixtures.
At the back, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman will be looking to John Stones and Jose Fonte to stifle opposition attacks, as they produced imperious defensive displays. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that they completed the most defensive contributions (based on tackles won, interceptions, blocks and clearances) for their respective teams with 16 and 14 apiece.
The battle between Southampton’s Sadio Mane and Everton’s Seamus Coleman could prove integral to the course of the match, with Mane a key asset in Southampton’s offensive play. Mane showcased his guile and trickery against Newcastle, completing 5 dribbles, whereas Coleman demonstrated his excellent eye for a tackle (winning every one he attempted). Mane is 21/10 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Likewise, Everton winger Kevin Mirallas’ dual against Southampton youngster Matt Targett could prove integral to the outcome of the match. Both players performed to distinction last weekend with Mirallas swinging in ten crosses and Targett winning four tackles.
With only one game of the season gone, it’s difficult to accurately assess the overall performances of players, with pre-season rustiness taking a while to shake off. But in Martin Stekelenburg and Tim Howard, Southampton and Everton have two of the most experienced ‘keepers around – with both performing solidly at the weekend, making two and three saves respectively.
Sunderland v Norwich – 15:00, Saturday 15th August
Both Sunderland and Norwich will be looking to reverse their fortunes this weekend, following disappointing losses in the last round of Premier League fixtures.
Following their respective losses, both Sunderland and Norwich fans will be hoping their players show the desire of Wes Hoolahan and Seb Larsson this weekend. The pair covered the most ground for each of their teams, running 11.4km and 10.6km. Wes Hoolahan is 27/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
The battle in the centre of the park could prove to be a crucial one at The Stadium of Light on Saturday, with both teams possessing players capable of retaining the ball for long periods. Jack Rodwell and Graham Dorrans will be the key men for each side, as they completed the most passes for their teams with 62 and 47.
Sebastien Bassong and Younes Kaboul could prove to be central figures for the Canaries and the Mackems this season, with the duo imperious in the air. This can be demonstrated by the fact they won 80% and 100% of their aerial duals in the first round of fixtures, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Full backs Patrick Van Aanholt and Steven Whittaker could prove to be stalwarts in both Sunderland and Norwich’s defences throughout the season. The two had a solid start to the campaign, making ten and nine defensive contributions (based on blocks, interceptions, clearances and ackles) apiece.
John Ruddy and Costel Pantilimon may have been on the losing sides, but each of them made a number of saves, which demonstrated how vital they’ll be for each of their teams. The pair made four saves apiece, and will be hoping to build on these solid performances over the course of the season.
Swansea v Newcastle – 15:00, Saturday 15th August
Swansea host Newcastle on Saturday, with both teams coming into the fixture after securing draws in their first matches of the season.
Both Jonjo Sheley and Jack Colback have established themselves as key figures for Swansea and Sunderland over the last season, occupying the central midfield berths for either team. The battle between them will be a critical one on Saturday, as they are essential components of their sides efforts to retain possession, with Shelvey completing 44 passes and Colback 38 in the first round of fixtures.
In addition to his passing, Colback is renowned for his excellent workrate and ability to cover every blade of grass. However, he’ll have his work cutout in the centre of the park this weekend, as he comes up against Gylfi Sigurdsson. The duo covered the most ground for their teams in the last round of fixtures, running 12.3 and 11.8km respectively.
Jefferson Montero tore Chelsea apart in Swansea’s first fixture of the season, giving Branislav Ivanovic a torrid time by completing 6 dribbles (this was the second most of any player in the league). Montero vs Daryl Janmaat will be a key match-up on Saturday, with the Newcastle fullback also producing a solid performance last week – winning every tackle that he attempted.
In Tim Krul and Lukasz Fabianski, Newcastle and Swansea have two of the most reliable ‘keepers in the league and they head into this fixture in good form. The duo made 3 and 2 saves respectively in their first matches of the season and will look to build on these performances throughout the campaign.
Bafetimbi Gomis opened his account for the season with a penalty against the champions, but he may find the going tough against Newcastle’s new centre-back, Chancel Mbemba. Gomis may have won 75% of his aerial duals against Chelsea, but according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Mbemba won 100% of his. Gomis is 21/10 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Tottenham v Stoke – 15:00, Saturday 15th August
Both Tottenham and Stoke enter this fixture looking to build on encouraging displays against Manchester United and Liverpool, that unfortunately both ended in 1-0 losses.
Saturday may well prove to be a feisty encounter, with both Tottenham and Stoke possessing players willing to lunge into tackles. The teams’ excellent tackling ability can be demonstrated by the fact that with 26 and 25 apiece, they completed more tackles than any other teams in the league.
The battle between Ibrahim Afellay and Christian Eriksen in the centre of the park could be a crucial one this weekend, as the pair have the ability to place a pass through the eye of a needle. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the duo completed the most passes in the opposition half for their respective sides, with Afellay completing 20 and Eriken 21.
Nacer Chadli may have his work cutout when he comes up against Glen Johnson at White Hart Lane on Saturday, as the former Liverpool man was marauding forward from right back at every opportunity last weekend. Johnson swung in six crosses against Liverpool, which was the third most of any defender in the league, and shows that Chadli must be conscious about tracking his man throughout the 90 minutes.
Marco Van Ginkel made his Stoke City bow at the weekend, performing admirably in the centre of the park and covering an impressive 12.3km. He’ll have to be sure he’s watching talented playmaker Christian Eriksen, though, as the Dane also showed his ability to cover every blade of grass – running 12.4km against Manchester United. Eriksen is 23/10 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Watford vs West Bromwich Albion – Saturday 15th August, 15:00
Watford made their return to the Premier League last weekend and were minutes away from sealing a win, before Everton’s Arouna Koné snatched a late equaliser. West Brom played Manchester City on Monday night and fell to a 3-0 defeat, so will be hoping to bounce back this weekend at Watford.
A key clash in this tie could be Idion Ighalo and Joleon Lescott. Ighalo came off the bench for Watford last weekend to score their second goal. In the sixteen minutes Ighalo was on the pitch for, he completed 100% of his attempted dribbles and achieved an 83.3% pass completion rate. Lescott was a busy man against Manchester City and made five clearances in addition to five interceptions, the fifth most of any player in the Premier League.
Etienne Capoue is a new signing at Watford and will be hoping to build on last weekend’s impressive debut. Capoue won three tackles and boasted a pass completion rate of 92%. His opposite number, Darren Fletcher, recorded similar statistics for West Brom, winning two tackles and completing 91.7% of his attempted passes.
Defensively for Watford, Craig Cathcart was particularly impressive last week. He completed 14 clearances, which is the third most in the Premier League, as well as making a league-best eight interceptions. He’ll be looking to stop a West Brom attack boosted by the signings of Rickie Lambert and Salomon Rondon. Saido Berahino still remains one of the biggest threats. Berahino’s direct running led to him completing 54 sprints last week, recording a top speed of 31.2km/h. Berahino is 5/1 to score first with 888sport.com.
Jose Holebas had the most touches of any Watford player last weekend, touching the ball on 69 occasions. A player he will be coming up against, James Morrison, had the most touches for West Brom, with 63. Both players are highly involved in their sides’ and will be looking to make an impact this weekend.
West Ham United vs Leicester City – Saturday 15th August, 15:00
West Ham pulled off a shock result away at Arsenal last week, running out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate. Claudio Ranieri started his reign at Leicester with an emphatic 4-2 win over Sunderland and will be hoping to continue that this week.
Diafra Sakho was one of West Ham’s most lively players last weekend and was a constant threat to the Arsenal defence. Sakho was clocked running at 34.1km/h, the seventh highest speed of anyone in the top flight. Robert Huth will be one of the players tasked with containing Sakho and recorded a top speed of 31.5km/h himself. Huth made seven clearances and won 100% of his attempted tackles.
Dimitri Payet made a superb debut for West Ham last weekend, laying on a goal for Cheikhou Kouyate and causing several problems for the Arsenal defence. Payet created two chances for his teammates, including the goal. Against Arsenal, 95.26% of Payet’s passes were short passes. His opposite number, Mark Albrighton also had a brilliant first game of the season, laying on two goals for his teammates. He created the most chances in the Premier League, with six. Albrighton is 14/1 to score first with 888sport.com.
Riyad Mahrez will be another threat for the West Ham defence to deal with. The winger scored two goals for Leicester and created four chances for his teammates. This was largely due to his direct running, completing three dribbles, and pinpoint crossing, finding his man on two occasions. West Ham’s new centre back Angelo Ogbonna may find himself in situations where he needs to deal with Mahrez, but looks up to the task, after winning 85.7% of his duels on his West Ham debut. Ogbonna also won 100% of his tackles and made eight clearances.
There could be a tough midfield battle with the likes of Reece Oxford and Danny Drinkwater in the middle of the park. Mark Noble covered more ground than any other player in the Premier League last weekend, running a total distance of 12.52km. Noble will have Andy King to contend with, who covered 10.77km for Leicester.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal – Sunday 16th August, 13:30
Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park this weekend hoping to add to their winning start to the Premier League season, after they beat Norwich at Carrow Road last week. Arsenal currently sit in the relegation zone after being defeated at home to West Ham but will be hoping to kick-start their season with a win at Palace.
Yohan Cabaye returned to the Premier League last week and looked as though he had never left. Cabaye announced his return by getting on the scoresheet and putting in a great performance to add to it. Cabaye showed a range of passing, with 78.8% of his passes being short, and 22.2% long range. Cabaye will be facing up against Santi Cazorla, who despite Arsenals loss, was at his creative best last weekend. Cazorla set up five goalscoring opportunities for his teammates and made 55 passes in the opposition half, the fourth most in the league.
Wilfried Zaha also scored last week and was one of the stand out players before he was withdrawn on 78 minutes. Zaha was a constant threat, completing five successful dribbles, and a top speed of 32.6km/h. Nacho Monreal should feel confident that he can deal with the pace of Zaha, as he himself clocked in at 34km/h, the eighth fastest speed recorded last week. Monreal won 61.1% of his duels last week and will be hoping to win the majority again against Crystal Palace.
The fastest player on the pitch according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index will be Yannick Bolasie. Bolasie recorded the third fastest speed in the division, 34.3km/h, and Arsenal right back Matthieu Debuchy will be wary of this. Debucy won 66.7% of his duels last week, but with a top speed of 29.5km/h will have to be at his very best to contain Bolasie. Bolasie is _ to score first with
Olivier Giroud was the man chosen to lead the line for Arsenal last week against West Ham. Giroud put two of his four shots on target last week and will have to improve further in order to beat Alex McCarthy. McCarthy made the second most saves in the Premier League, four, and made the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Team Of The Week. Giroud will provide a threat in the air to McCarthy, having won 66.7% of his aerial duels last weekend. Giroud is 17/4 to score first with 888sport.com.
Manchester City vs Chelsea – Sunday 16th August, 16:00
Manchester City host the champions this weekend in an early title-race crunch match. City got off to a flying start, beating West Brom 3-0 on Monday night, whilst Chelsea stuttered to a 2-2 draw at home to Swansea.
Manchester City will be hoping that Yaya Toure can repeat his Monday night performance where he bagged a brace. Toure made 66 passes in the opposition half, the second highest total in the division. He is clearly trusted by his teammates too as he received 78 passes, the fourth highest in the Premier League. Toure has enjoyed some good battles with Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic in the past and this weekend should be no different. Matic covered the ninth most ground in the league on the opening weekend, running 11.72km. In addition, Matic won four tackles, ranking him 11th in the division.
David Silva was in inspired form against West Brom and was in fact the only player to have completed more passes in the opposition half than teammate Yaya Toure, with an incredible 79 passes. Silva set up four goalscoring opportunities for his teammate, and could well prove to be a tricky customer for the Chelsea defence. At the heart of that Chelsea defence is John Terry and Gary Cahill, who have been in 19 duels between them – and look sure to add to that total this weekend.
Eden Hazard completed by far and away the most dribbles of any Premier League player last season and has started this campaign in a similar fashion. Hazard sits third in the dribbling rankings, on five successful dribbles, after the first weekend. Bacary Sagna started in the fullback role often occupied by Pablo Zabaleta last season. Should Sagna start again, he will need another strong performance against the reigning PFA Player Of The Year. Sagna won 100% of his tackles last week as well as succeeding in 95.2% of his passes.
Cesar Azpilicueta will occupy what has now become his regular spot at left back. He will likely come up against his Spanish compatriot Jesus Navas. Azpilicueta last week managed to complete 100% of his tackles, and made five important clearances for Chelsea. Navas covered an impressive 11.59km last week, with a top speed of 32.2km/h, and his energy is likely to challenge Azpilicueta. Navas is 16/1 to score first with 888sport.com.
Liverpool v Bournemouth – 19:45, Monday 17th August
Liverpool play host to Bournemouth, with both teams coming into the fixture off the back of encouraging performances last weekend.
Brendan Rodgers always emphasises the importance of recycling possession and retaining the ball in his teams and this was no different last weekend, with Liverpool completing 378 passes. He’ll do well to warn his team of Bournemouth’s passing ability, though, as they completed 464 passes against Aston Villa (the third most in the league).
Two players who will be essential to either team’s chances of dominating possession will be Andrew Surman and Jordan Henderson. The duo completed 87 and 76 passes respectively in the last round of fixtures, which was the most for either side. Henderson is 41/10 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Monday.
Bournemouth’s centre-backs are likely to be wary of the aerial threat of Liverpool’s new signing Christian Benteke, with the striker likely to cause Tommy Elphick a real headache. Benteke demonstrated his excellent heading ability against Stoke as he won 64% of his aerial duals, whereas Elphick won 57%.
In centre midfield pairing Jordan Henderson and James Milner, Liverpool have an impressive engine room, with the duo capable of working their socks off for the sake of the team and the pair ran an impressive 12km and 11.1km respectively. In turn, Andrew Surman (11.1km) and Matt Ritchie (11km) topped the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for Bournemouth, and they’ll need to maintain these energy levels when they come up against Brendan Rodgers’ men on Monday.