FM

Apr 052014
 

Everton vs Arsenal

Arsenal will be confident ahead of their trip to Goodison Park. The Gunners displayed great resilience and commitment to stay in the match last weekend following David Silva’s goal after 18 minutes and eventually drew level just after 50 minutes with a goal from Flamini. Arsenal could have even won the tie when Podolski looked certain to score only to be denied by Joe Hart’s legs.

Arsene Wenger will be proud of his side’s resilient and determined demonstration against City last weekend. Despite the early goal, Arsenal did not look like they would capitulate as they had done against Liverpool and Chelsea, but successfully contained City’s numerous attacking threats and pushed for an equaliser. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Indes shows that Arsenal skipper Per Mertesacker led the way in defense with 13 defensive contributions (tackles won, clearances, blocks, interceptions) bringing his total this season to 315.

Santiago Carzola posed a constant threat in attack and demonstrated his impressive creative ability. The Spaniard made 57 attacking contributions last weekend and has a season total of 1167, the highest at the club.

Olivier Giroud is Arsenal’s top scorer this season in the Premier League with 13 goals to his name. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the French international has a shot accuracy of 40.3%; finding the target 29 times out of a possible 72 shots so far this season.

Everton’s dream of European football next season looks as if it will soon become a reality if the Toffees continue in their recent form which has seen them win 5 of their last 5 Premier League games. They are currently in 5th place on 60 points; just 4 points behind forth place Arsenal. Martinez’s men will be full of confidence ahead of their convincing 3-1 win over Fulham last Sunday and will be hoping to make home advantage count against Arsenal this weekend.

Romelu Lukaku has been outstanding this season for Everton. The striker, who is on loan from Chelsea, has scored 12 times in 26 appearances. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the Nigerian has had 35 shots on target this season out of a possible 55, giving him a shot accuracy rating of 63.6%.

Gareth Barry has made a huge impact since arriving at Everton on loan from Manchester City. The England international played a central role in Everton’s attacking movements against Fulham, making 33 attacking contributions (shots on target, crosses, dribbles and passes) bringing his season total to 978; the highest at the club.

Sylvain Distin will be expected to help Everton’s defense contain Arsenal’s attacking threats. The Frenchman has won 44 out of a possible 58 tackles this season, that’s a tackle win rating of 75.9%. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has made 349 defensive contributions (tackles won, blocks, clearances and interceptions) this season; which is the highest at the club.

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Apr 052014
 

West Ham vs Liverpool

West Ham will not be intimidated by the prospect of playing in form Liverpool this weekend following their persuasive win against Sunderland. The Hammers were 1- 0 in under ten minutes after Andy Carroll muscled himself into a position to head the ball into the net before Diamé doubled West Ham’s tally after 50 minutes. Sam Allardyce will be impressed by his side’s ability to cope with Sunderland’s spirited fight back

Andy Carroll made his physical presence felt against Sunderland, using his size effectively to muscle himself past the Sunderland defense to head home early in the first half. After the match, Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce claimed that if Carroll continues to show this sort of form, he would be on the plane to Brazil this summer. Carroll has made just 9 appearances this season in the Premier League due to injury and has only scored twice but against Sunderland he demonstrated why he should certainly be a contender for the England shirt.

West Ham Skipper Kevin Nolan has seven goals to his name this season and was unlucky not to add to his total against Sunderland. The Englishman has had 18 shots on target this season giving him a shot accuracy rating of 48.6%. However West Ham fans will feel that their greatest attacking threat will come from Mark Nobel. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the 33 year old has made a staggering 800 attacking contributions this season (shots on target, crosses, dribbles and passes) including an impressive 750 passes completed in the opposition half.

Aswell as Andy Carroll’s performance, It was West Ham’s defensive capabilities which stood out to the manager. Allardyce praised his men’s ability to shut down Sunderland’s spirited come back. The manager and fans alike will expect more of the same this week against Liverpool’s attacking fire Power. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that James Collins has made 320 defensive contributions ( tackles won, clearances, blocks and Interceptions) this season and has won 46 of his 62 tackles made this season; giving him a 74.2% success rate.

Liverpool will be full of confidence but must remain focused this weekend after their destruction of Tottenham at Anfield last Sunday. Their 4-0 win put Brendan Rogers’ team 2 points clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table and four points clear of fellow title contenders Manchester City. Liverpool have scored 15 goals in their last 4 games and remain unbeaten in their last 13 games.

Luis Suarez looked dangerous and full of confidence last weekend against Tottenham. The Uruguayan made 24 attacking contributions (shots on target, passes, crosses and dribbles) as well as scoring and providing an assist in his sides 4-0 mauling of Tim Sherwood’s men. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he had 2 shots on target out of a possible 5 giving him a 40% shot accuracy.

Philippe Coutinho doubled Liverpool’s tally just before the hour mark with a blistering shot from 25 yards. The Brazilian has scored 4 times this season in 27 appearances and has a shot accuracy this season of 39.3%; finding the target 24 times out of a possible 61 times.

England hopeful Jordan Henderson also managed to get on the score sheet with 15 minutes left on the clock. Henderson has had an impressive season so far with the Reds and has played an integral role in their Premier League title campaign. The Englishman has made a staggering 969 attacking contributions this season and he was once again on top form against Spurs, making 25 in total including 24 completed passes in the opposition half.

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Apr 052014
 

Chelsea v Stoke

Chelsea missed an opportunity to remain at the top of the Premier League last weekend after they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace. The Blues also suffered a 3-1 defeat to Paris St Germain midweek in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Mourinho criticised his side’s defense after the match and will expect an impressive display as the Blues look to reassert themselves as Premier League leaders this weekend.

Eden Hazard came closest to leveling the score last weekend but had his shot saved superbly by Palace keeper Speroni. Both of the Belgian’s shots were on target but Chelsea’s star man failed to find the back of the net. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Hazard is Chelsea’s top scorer this season with 14 and has had 31 of a possible 49 shots on target; that’s an accuracy of 63.3%.

Nemanja Matic demonstrated his creative attacking ability against Crystal Palace’s last weekend. The Serbian midfielder resigned for Chelsea from Benfica in January and looks settled and confident in the Chelsea team. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he made 43 attacking contributions (shots on target, passes, dribbles and crosses) included an impressive 41 passes completed in the opposition half.

Gary Cahill won 100% of the 5 tackles he made last weekend as well as making 24 defensive contributions (tackles won, blocks, interceptions and clearances). The EA SPORTS Player Performance index shows that he has won 28 of the 35 tackles he has made this season in the Premier League.

Following their win against Hull last weekend, Stoke City are on course for their best ever point total in the Premier League, needing just 8 more points from 6 games. The Potter’s have lost just once in their last 9 games and will be full of confidence as they travel to Stamford Bridge. Mark Hughes’ men will be determined to create their very own upset following Crystal Palace’s shock win last weekend.

Peter Crouch will be hoping to make the most of Chelsea’s recent defensive errors. With 7 Premier League goals this season in 29 appearances, the Potters’ frontman is their top scorer. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has had 22 shots on target out of a possible 46; that’s an accuracy of 47.8%.

Steven N’zonzi represents Stokes’ greatest creative attacking threat. N’zonzi made 35 attacking contributions last weekend in their 1-0 win against Hull. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that N’zonzi leads the way for attacking contributions this season with an impressive 763 made this season to date.

Stoke fans will be expecting more of the same from Odemwingie. The Nigerian has scored 3 goals in his last 3 games bringing his season total to 6 in 24 games. He will certainly be hoping this form continues as he currently sits just one goal behind Crouch who is Stoke’s current top scorer.

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Apr 052014
 

Newcastle v Man Utd

Newcastle will be desperate to return to winning ways this weekend when they face Manchester United. The Magpies have lost 8 of their last 13 and are currently the lowest scoring club in the top half of the table with a haul of 38. Both Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who is still banned from the touchline, and fans alike will be hoping that the return of Loic Remy will give them something to cheer about.

Newcastle fans will be looking forward to the return of star man Loic Remy. The Frenchman is the Magpies’ top scorer this season with 13 in 23 Premier League appearances. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has a current shot accuracy rating of 50.8% with 31 of a possible 60 shots finding the target.

Vurnon Anita was Newcastles biggest attacking threat in their embarrassing 4-0 loss to Southampton. The Dutchman made 25 attacking contributions (shots on target, passes, dribbles and crosses) The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Newcastle’s biggest creative attacking threat this season has been Moussa Sissoko. The Frenchman made 23 attacking contributions against Southampton and has made an impressive 788 in total this season.

Cheick Tioté will be expected to cope with the in form Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, the latter of which will be full of confidence following his goal against Villa last weekend. The Ivory Coast international has won an impressive 90 tackles out of a possible 128; that’s a tackle win percentage of 70.3%.

Manchester United will be full of confidence following their defiant display against European giants Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Although enjoying just 26% of the possession, the Red Devils took the lead when skipper Vidic headed home. United could have been 2-0 at one point but Welbeck missed a one on one with the Bayern keeper. David Moyes will be confident following the Reds’ determination midweek and their 4-1 rout of Aston Villa at the weekend. The Reds are currently 7th in the table and have not given up on their pursuit of European football next season.

Although he could only watch midweek due to being cup tied, United fans will be encouraged by the performance of new signing Juan Mata last weekend against Villa. The Spaniard scored his first goal in United colours and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he made 26 attacking contributions (shots on target, passes, dribbles and crosses).

David Moyes has suffered a series of defensive setbacks, the most recent being Rafael who limped off against Villa at the weekend. United will be glad to see the return of Chris Smalling to sure up the defense. The England defender has been out with injury but returned to training ahead of the clash with Bayern Munich. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Indicator shows that he has won an incredible 40 out of a possible 43 tackles this season in the Premier League; that’s a tackle accuracy of 90%.

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Apr 052014
 

Manchester City vs Southampton 12:45

Manchester City could not capitalise on an early goal from David Silva as they eventually drew 1-1 with Arsenal at the Emirates. A spirited fightback denied Manuel Pellegrini’s side the chance to move back to the top of the Premier League and they face by no means an easy task this weekend against a Southampton side capable of beating anyone on their day.

Midfield maestro David Silva has appeared to be approaching something like his best form in recent weeks. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the gifted Spaniard is fast approaching the 1000-pass barrier for passes completed in the opponent’s half (974) and has so far completed one on average every 1.82 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.

Despite not grabbing the same amount of headlines as some of his colleagues, Pablo Zabaleta continues to be one of City’s standout performers this season. He’s attempted more challenges that any other City player with 128, winning an excellent 73.4% of them.

City fans may be keen for Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo to be firing up front once again but they needn’t worry with a player like Edin Dzeko also amongst the ranks. In the City squad only Aguero has a better minutes to shot ratio than the Bosnian frontman, Dzeko having an attempt on average once every 23.2 minutes this season compared to Aguero’s 20.7 minutes and Negredo’s 31.2 minutes.

Southampton were rampant last weekend as they blew away Newcastle 4-0 at St Marys. England hopeful Jay Rodriguez grabbed a brace, whilst fellow international colleagues Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana also got on the scoresheet in an impressive win for the Saints.

The Saints have been back playing some exceptional football in recent weeks, with Adam Lallana unsurprisingly at the centre of some of their best play. The 25 year-old midfielder is so far the only Saints player to have moved into triple figures for both attacking contributions (135) (shots on goal, assists, crosses, dribbles) and defensive contributions (109) (blocks, interceptions, tackles won, clearances) for the season.

Luke Shaw’s stock continues to rise this season, the England youngster turning in some exceptionally mature performances for a player of his limited top-level experience. He currently has the best tackle success rate of any Saints player to have made more than 60 tackles, winning 76.6% of his 77 attempted challenges to date according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Keeping with Southampton’s England contingent, Jay Rodriguez shows no signs of dropping off in form as the season enters it’s final weeks. He’s racked up 15 goals this season, maintaining an average of having a shot on goal once every 37.3 minutes, a stat he will no doubt be hoping to improve even further before the summer.

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Mar 102014
 

Average passes per game
Yaya Toure – 74.8 – Manchester City
Michael Carrick – 72.5 – Manchester United
Gareth Barry – 70.9 – Everton
Mikel Arteta – 66 – Arsenal
Leon Britton – 65.8 – Swansea
Jose Canas – 62.2 – Swansea
Jonathan De Guzman – 61.4 – Swansea
Steven Gerrard – 61 – Liverpool
Lucas Levia – 60.8 – Liverpool
Cheick Tiote – 59.2 – Newcastle

Passing completion
Mathieu Flamini – 92.6% – Arsenal
Mikel Arteta – 92.1% – Arsenal
Lucas Leiva – 91.3% – Liverpool
Ki Sung-Yueng – 91.2% – Sunderland
Leon Britton – 91% – Swansea
Javi Garcia – 91% – Manchester City
Mousa Dembele – 90.9% – Tottenham Hotspur
Jose Canas – 90.7% – Swansea
Yaya Toure – 90.3% – Manchester City
Tom Cleverley – 89.6% – Manchester United

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Feb 232014
 

Liverpool vs Swansea 13:30

Liverpool will be hoping to rediscover their attacking rhythm after losing 2 -1 to Arsenal in The FA Cup. Despite a surge in the second half which saw Gerrard confidently send Fabianski the wrong way from the penalty spot and a contentious penalty decision go against Liverpool, Arsenal managed to hold on for the win.

With both Suarez and Sturridge topping the Premier League goal tally with 23 and 16 goals respectively, Liverpool fans should be confident in the attacking capabilities of their team. In addition to his success in front of goal, The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Suarez also has a season total of 15 assists; the highest in the league. Suarez is 13/5 to score first with 888sport.com

Jordan Henderson will pose a dangerous threat to the Swansea defense from midfield. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Henderson has made a total of 748 attacking contributions this season and has completed 717 passes in the opposition half.

After the disappointment of their exit from the FA Cup Liverpool will be looking to captain Steven Gerrard to dominate the midfield. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Gerrard has made 80 tackles so far this season with a success rate of an impressive 83.8%.

Central to the latest test in Liverpool’s Premier League campaign will be the presence of Martin Skrtel in defense. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Skrtel leads the way for defensive contributions, (Interceptions, blocks, tackles won and clearances), in the Premier League this season with an impressive 372 contributions to date.

Under caretaker manager Garry Monk, Swansea will be hoping to bounce back from their FA Cup defeat at the hands of Everton. Despite showing admirable resolve, which saw the Swans swiftly respond to Everton’s early opener through Jonathan de Guzman’s header, they were convincingly beaten by a dominant Everton side.

Against a team as formidable in attack as Liverpool, the Swansea defense will have its work cut out. With a tackle win percentage of 84.6%, Dwight Trendalli’s presence in defense will be crucial in Swansea’s attempts at containing Liverpool’s dangerous attacking ability. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index also shows that Chico leads the Swansea team in defensive contributions with a total of 297 this season

Swans fans will be looking to Jonathan de Guzman’ impressive attacking credentials for inspiration. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that De Guzman has made 775 attacking contributions, (crosses, dribbles, passes and shots on target), this season and has completed 731 passes in the opposition half to date; the highest at the club.

With 8 changes being made after Swansea’s stalemate away to Stoke, Monk’s preferred starting 11 is still far from decided but he will be hoping that club top scorer Nathan Dyer makes a case for himself by building upon his total of 5. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he has made 39 dribbles in the opposition half this season and has a shot accuracy rating of 47.6% and is 18/1 to score first with 888sport.com

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Feb 232014
 

Newcastle vs Aston Villa 13:30

It was an afternoon to forget for Newcastle fans last time out in the league as they were on the end of a comprehensive 0-4 defeat at the hands of Tottenham, including a brace by the once again impressive Emmanuel Adebayor.

Mathieu Debuchy had yet another fine game last time out in the league to add to his growing list of excellent performances this campaign. He successfully made five interceptions against, the joint fourth highest in the league during the last round according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Moussa Sissoko has been similarly impressive in defence this season, his huge engine proving a valuable asset to the Magpies. He currently has the best tackle success rate of any Newcastle player, winning 83.7% of his 49 attempted challenges to date.

Striker Loic Remy has contributed an impressive 11 goals this campaign whilst on loan from QPR, a solid return during his time so far on Tyneside. It’s unsurprising to see therefore that he leads the Newcastle squad for attempts on goal this season, with 47 to his name. Remy is 6/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.

Following the departure of Yohan Cabaye, even more pressure will no doubt be put on the shoulders of Cheick Tiote. The Ivorian has always been a key figure for the Magpies in defence, but Alan Pardew may look to him to get involved even more in an offensive capacity and ass to his 402 completed passes in the opponent’s half this term.

A couple of outstanding saves from David Marshall helped keep Cardiff in the game and denied Aston Villa all three points last time out. Paul Lambert will be hoping his side can get more reward for their efforts should they play as well as they this weekend.

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar continues to battle for his side at the back this season, leading from the front during what has been an up-and-down season to date. The cente-half completed the joint third highest number of total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, tackles won, interceptions) during the last round of fixtures with 22 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Midfielder Fabian Delph continues to have a standout season for Villa, contributing heavily in both defence and attack. He leads the Villa squad for tackles attempted with 93, winning 73.1% of them, as well as attacking contributions (assists, shots on goal, dribbles, crosses).

Gabriel Agbonlahor’s all-round game has progressed rapidly in recent years, the frontman now also able to effectively link the play and provide chances for his teammates as well as himself. No Villa player has provided more assists this term, with six currently to his name. Agbonlahor is 3/1 with 888sport.com to get himself on the scoresheet this weekend though and score at any time.

Defender Ciaran Clark’s commitment to the cause is rarely called into question, largely because of his physical approach to making sure his ‘keeper is well protected. No Villa player has made more blocks this term than Clark’s 19.

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Feb 222014
 

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United 17:30

Crystal Palace’s fixture against Everton was one of the games postponed in the last round of Premier League fixtures, due to atrocious weather conditions. An extra week’s rest may benefit Tony Pulis’ men, as they play host to the Champions.

One player who the Eagles will be looking to provide a creative spark is winger Jason Puncheon, with the former Southampton man in a rich vein of form. A comeback comparable to Lazarus of Bethany, Puncheon’s horrendous penalty miss a few weeks ago has inspired him to produce some of his finest displays in a Palace shirt, and his penetrating runs down the left have become a vital cog in the Eagles’ offensive machine – probably best demonstrated by the fact that he has completed more dribbles than any other Palace player (36). Puncheon is 14/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.

Tony Pulis has always been an advocate of offensive wing-play, with his teams characterized with quick wingers who have the ability to deliver the ball. The aforementioned Jason Puncheon certainly fits into this category, along with Yannick Bolasie, the player employed on the opposite wing. Bolasie has impressed with his dribbling skills this term, but what surprise many Eagles fans is that his tackling has also been of the highest order. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has won an impressive 79% of his challenges.

If Palace are relegated this term it is certain that there won’t be a shortage of suitors for talisman Mile Jedinak. The Australian has been inspirational at both ends of the pitch for the Eagles this term, making more offensive contributions than any other Palace player (405), and also intercepting the ball 90 times – the most in the league.

Adlene Guedioura hasn’t featured as prominently as he would have liked this term, which many pundits may be surprised at, considering his undoubted quality. In the few minutes he has played, however, the Algerian has made a sizeable impression – completing a pass in the opposition half at a rate of a pass every 4.1 minutes, a better rate than any other midfielder in the Palace squad.

It was vital that Manchester United did not lose when they travelled to Arsenal in their last Premier League, and despite a couple of scares, they managed to secure a solid 0-0 draw.

Tom Cleverley has had his fair share of stick this season, with many pundits questioning his position in the Red Devils team. Against Arsenal, however, he produced a solid all-round display to suggest that some of the criticisms may be slightly unwarranted. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he completed 24 passes in the opposition half, the second most in the United squad, and won every single challenge that he attempted.

Much of the credit for nullifying the Gunners should go to outgoing skipper Nemanja Vidic. The Inter Milan-bound defender produced a swashbuckling defensive display to keep the likes of Giroud, Cazorla and Ozil away, making a total of 25 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, tackles won and interceptions). This was the most in the United squad, and the second most in the league.

With Vidic destined to a career in Italy and Rio Ferdinand’s injury problems looking to be getting the best of him, Manchester United manager David Moyes has been starting to look to the next generation of centre halves. One player looking to fill the boots of the established duo is Chris Smalling, who has figured in 19 of the Red Devils games so far this season, and although he may not have won over all of his critics, he has impressed in the tackling department. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has won 94% of the challenges he has attempted this season.

England fans will be praying that Wayne Rooney comes through the rest of the season unscathed, as the Manchester United man is yet to figure in a World Cup when he has been totally ‘match fit’. The former Evertonian has been in fine form for the Red Devils this term, and he was a constant menace against the Gunners again, making a total of 26 offensive contributions (based on shots on target, passes in the opposition half, crosses and dribbles). The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that this was the second most in the United squad. You can find Rooney at 17/4 with 888sport.com to open the scoring on Saturday.

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Feb 222014
 

Arsenal vs Sunderland 15:00

Arsenal played out a goalless draw with Manchester Utd at the Emirates last time out in the league as they missed the chance to go back to the summit of the table. Only a point stands between the Gunners and Chelsea though so Arsene Wenger will be hoping his side can avoid dropping any more points at home this weekend.

A bedrock of Arsenal’s success this season has been the outstanding form of Laurent Koscielny, the centre-half providing a sense of confidence and stability at the back for the Gunners. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he ranks third in the league this season for total interceptions with 69.

Although perhaps not performing at the level we would usually expect of him, Mesut Ozil has nonetheless still been racking up some impressive statistics. He leads the league for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 1,013 and is the only player to have moved beyond the 1,000 mark.

As if to emphasise the quality the Gunners have in the centre of the park, their collective passing statistics against Manchester Utd showed just how dominant they can be when in possession. Four of the top six players for passes completed in the opponent’s half during the last round were Arsenal players (Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere and Gibbs), with a combined total of 182.

Serge Gnarby has been a revelation this season, with many predicting a bright future for the German youth international. Although noted for his impressive ability with the ball at his feet, he has also shown a willingness to get involved defensively as well, an encouraging sign in the modern game where even the most gifted are not exempt from their defensive duties. He’s won 78.6% of his 14 challenges to date this season. Gnabry is 14/5 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.

Sunderland’s last scheduled fixture again Manchester City was postponed due to high winds and Gus Poyet will have been hoping that his side can take something away from North London this time weekend as they look to fight their way out of the bottom three.

Adam Johnson won the Barclays Player of the Month Award for January and it is difficult to argue with the Premier League’s decision given some of his stats this season. The England winger unsurprisingly leads the Sunderland squad for total attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses) with 76 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Midfielder Lee Cattermole was the subject of transfer speculation during the recent window and it’s not difficult to understand why. On his day, Cattermole can be a highly effective enforcer with an underrated passing game. He has one of the best tackle success rates in the Sunderland squad, winning 68.4% of his 57 challenges this season, whilst racking up 209 passes in the opponent’s half this term.

Jozy Altidore has impressed many this season with his physical presence and ability to link the play in the final third. Sunderland will need him to be on top form this weekend against one of the strongest defensive partnerships in the league though in Koscielny and Mertesacker. If any one is going to test them though, it’s most likely to be him given that he has the best shot accuracy rate of any Sunderland player this term with 68.8% of his 16 efforts so far working the opposition ‘keeper. Altidore is 5/1 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.

No player has epitomised the renewed defensive energy under Gus Poyet more than Sunderland captain John O’Shea, the centre-half leading from the front when it comes to his defensive numbers. He leads the squad for total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) with 206 to his name.

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Feb 222014
 

Chelsea vs Everton 12:45

After a disappointing draw away to West Brom in the league and defeat in The FA cup to Manchester City, Chelsea will be looking forward to putting their title hopes back on track when they host Everton.

Despite the poor result, The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows Chelsea dominated possession with Oscar and Hazard completing 36 and 35 passes in the opposition half respectively.

Eden Hazard will be hoping to add to his impressive recent form, which has allowed him to become the 4th top scorer in the Premier League with 12 goals and a shot accuracy of 63.2%. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows Hazard made 40 attacking contributions, which is more than any other Chelsea player. He has dribbled 88 times this seasons, the highest in the league; highlighting his importance to Mourinho in the title race. Due to his recent form, Hazard is 23/4 to score first with 888sport.com

Focusing on Hazards recent excellent form however does not do justice to the impressive season Bratislav Ivanović is having. In addition to appearing on the score sheet, The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows he won an inspiring 100% of tackles against West Bromwich Albion adding to his already impressive season tackle win percentage 80.4%

Everton will be looking to continue their winning ways after convincingly beating Swansea 3 – 1 in The FA cup. Taking the lead after just 4 minutes with a stylish backheel from debutant Lacina Traore, Everton overpowered a determined Swansea team with Naismith and Baines also scoring.

As Everton are still without top scorer Romelu Lukaku, Toffee fans will be hoping for a repeat performance from on-loan Monaco striker Lacina Traore whilst Naismith, who made an impressive impact from the bench before suffering from concussion, has been declared fit and will give fans further reason to be confident. According to The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Naismith is Everton’s 2nd most accurate striker with 66.7% accuracy rate. He is 22/5 to score with 888sport.com

The 19-year-old Spanish Youth team prodigy Gerard Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, represents Everton’s greatest attacking threat. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Deulofeu has had 16 shots on target so far this season of which 13 have been on target giving him a season shot accuracy rating of 81.3%; the highest in the club.

Leighton Baines will prove integral to Everton’s chances of victory at Stamford Bridge. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Baines has a current season tackle win percentage of 86.2%. Baines will also offers an impressive attacking threat; having made 522 attacking contributions, (Crosses, dribbles, passes and shots on target), this season already from left back.

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Feb 222014
 

Manchester City vs Stoke 15:00

Manchester City’s last league fixture was scheduled to be against Sunderland but this game was postponed amid safety concerns due to high winds in the North West. City will be looking to keep pace with league leaders Chelsea this weekend as former manager Mark Hughes returns to the Etihad.

City will be keen to have Sergio Aguero available as soon as possible given how deadly the Argentinean has been for the majority of the season. He’s had an excellent 35 on target attempts this season, the second highest total in the league behind Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (54) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

If asked to pick their signing of the season so far, no doubt many City fans would be voting for Fernandinho. Although signed primarily as another attacking force in midfield, the Brazilian has shown himself equally adept at playing a more defensive foil to Yaya Toure, as well as emergency cover at centre-back. It’s no surprise therefore to see he’s not shy when it comes to his tackling, as in the City squad only Pablo Zabaleta has committed to more than him this season (107 compared to 103).

When it comes to City’s defensive supremo however, no one catch touch Vincent Kompany. The City captain currently holds the best tackle success rate in the squad for anyone who has more than 40 challenges (73.3%), as well as the highest number of total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, tackles won, interceptions) with 162.

Alvaro Negredo has adapted well to life in the Premier League, the style of play in English football clearly well suited to his own physical approach to the game. There is more to the Spaniard than just brute force though, he possesses superb technique which can trouble any defence. Indeed, he’s been on the end of so many chances that he now sits behind only Sergio Aguero (58) for total shots on goal in the City squad with 47. Negredo is an industry best 4/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.

Stoke drew 1-1 with Swansea last time out, Peter Crouch’s first half goal winning the Potters a point at a windy Brittania Stadium. They face a tough test this weekend against City though and will have to be at the absolute best defensively against a City team which has already scored a league-leading 68 goals and have been majestic at home for much of the season.

Erik Pieters remains one of the most effective defenders in the league this term according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Racking up some impressive statistics. He’s won the second highest number of tackles in the league this season with 94, giving him an excellent overall tackle success rate of 69.6%.

Club stalwart Ryan Shawcross continues to provide the necessary stability at the back that any team needs and has been compiling the statistics to prove it. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he has the second highest number of blocks in the league this season with 36 to his name.

Charlie Adam might be renowned for his passing game but he certainly has more than just the offensive side to his game to offer, showcasing some strong defensive ability as well this term. He won the joint highest number of tackles in the last round with 6.

The form of Marko Arnautovic would appear to be key to Stoke’s chances of taking something away from the Etihad this weekend. The Austrian has been one of the Potters’ main creative outlets since arriving at the Brittania and has chipped in with five assists to date, a squad-high. Arnautovic is 5/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.

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Feb 222014
 

West Brom vs Fulham 15:00

A late equalizer from Victor Anichebe ensured that Chelsea left The Hawthorns with only a point in the last round of Premier League fixtures. The Baggies host Fulham with manager Pepe Mel still looking to register his first win as West Brom manager.

Saido Berahino swung in the cross from which Anichebe scored his late header, and the assist was the least that the West Brom striker deserved after an impressive overall offensive performance. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he completed 27 passes in the opposition half, which was more than any other Baggies player. Berahino is 7/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.

Pepe Mel will have been delighted with his team’s draw against the Blues, particularly as Mourinho’s men were victorious at the Etihad just a few days before. Claudio Yacob was integral to his side’s defensive effort, as he shielded the back four to great effect. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Yacob attempted the second most challenges in the league (9).

Yacob’s outstanding defensive contribution is to be expected as he is widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the league. What may be a slight shock, however, is that James Morrison’s tackling was also of the highest order, as he won an impressive 75% of his challenges.

Chris Brunt’s influence in the West Brom team is undeniable, with the Northern Irishman the club captain. For his high standards, however, the former Sheffield Wednesday man’s goal tally has been slightly disappointing this term, as he has only found the back of the net once. Brunt continued his poor form in front of goal against Chelsea, as although he took more shots than any of his teammates (4), he failed to hit the target once.

A last minute penalty from Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard condemned Fulham to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Brendan Rodgers’ men. It was a harsh result on Fulham, who produced an excellent offensive display.

Lewis Holtby, in particular, excelled against the Reds, utilizing his undoubted creative talents to great effect. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he completed 22 passes in the opposition half, which was more than any other player in the Fulham squad. You can find Holtby at 23/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Saturday.

Dan Burn has impressed for Fulham since his introduction into the first team, producing a number of composed displays which suggest a maturity beyond his tender years. Burn produced another barnstorming display against the Reds, making a total of 14 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won). This was more than any of his teammates.

Since arriving at the club in 2012, Kieran Richardson has become an integral member of the Fulham squad. This is in part due to his versatility, with the former Sunderland man more than capable of operating in midfield or defence. This excellent versatility is probably best demonstrated by the fact that Richardson has completed a total of 217 passes in the opposition half this term, and also won 72% of his challenges.

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Feb 222014
 

Cardiff vs Hull 15:00

A last-minute ‘Wonder Save’ from ‘keeper David Marshall saved Cardiff from defeat in their goalless home draw with Aston Villa. They’ll be desperate to take all three points against fellow strugglers Hull.

Marshall’s last-minute save topped-off an overall exceptional performance, the sort of which we have been seeing regularly from Cardiff’s number 1. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Marshall made a total of 6 saves against Villa, which was the most in the league.

To focus simply on Marshall’s performance would not do justice to an good performance from the whole of Cardiff’s defence. Ben Turner, in particular, was in inspirational form, winning 5 tackles – the second most in the league. This figure is particularly impressive when one considers that Turner only attempted 5 challenges, winning every one.

Turner excelled in all areas of defence against the Villains, as in total, he made 26 defensive contributions (based on tackles won, blocks, interceptions and clearances). Again, this was more than any other player in the league and underlines his undeniable importance to Solskjaer’s team.

Craig Noone completed 4 dribbles against Paul Lambert’s men, taking his overall tally for the season to 29. This total is more than any other player in the Cardiff squad and showcases how integral his probing runs down the flank are to the Bluebirds’ offensive effort. You can find Noone at 23/2 to score at any time with 888sport.com.

Signing Magnus Wolff Eikrem was one of the first moves that Solskjaer made when taking the reins at The Cardiff City Stadium. The Cardiff manager has praised the midfielder’s range of passing, and when looking at the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it isn’t difficult to see why. Since arriving in Wales, the former Heerenveen man has completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.6 minutes.

Steve Bruce takes his Hull side to Cardiff off the back of a disappointing home defeat at the hands of Southampton.

Signing Nikica Jelavic was a clever move by Steve Bruce, as if the Croatian rediscovers his goal-scoring form, he will be a major asset in the Tiger’s fight against relegation. The former Everton man demonstrated his eye for goal against the Saints, as he registered a total of 4 shots – the second most in the league. Jelavic is 15/2 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Saturday.

Ahmed Elmohammady’s 4 crosses against the Saints took his overall tally for the season up to 30. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that this is the most in not just the Hull squad, but also the league as a whole. Steve Bruce will be hoping that new signings Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long can get their heads on the ball, when the Egyptian swings in a teasing cross.

Alex Bruce will have been desperate to ‘live for the moment’ this year, as this season is the first time that he has featured regularly in the Premier League. In the 12 appearances that he has made this season to date, Bruce hasn’t let himself, his team or even his father down, with his tackling being a particular highlight. The EA SPORTS Player Performance shows that he has won an impressive 79% of his challenges this term.

Tom Huddlestone has made a huge impression on Humberside, with many pundits tipping him for a surprise place on the plane to Brazil this Summer. His importance to Steve Bruce’s men can be underlined by the fact that he has featured in 2279 minutes this term – more than any other player in the Hull squad.

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Jan 132014
 

Manchester United are keen to finally wrap up the deal to take Fabio Coentrao away from Real Madrid, after losing out on him at the last minute in the summer.

Looking at his stats this season, how does he compare to Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) and Gael Clichy (Manchester City)?

Click the table above to see the stats comparison.

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Jan 122014
 

Luis Suarez will likely win the Golden Boot this season after amassing an incredible 22 goals in 16 appearances. However, when looking at the games he has played in this season and the teams he has scored against, a strange pattern starts to emerge.

Sunderland – 19th – 2 goals
Crystal Palace – 20th – 1 goal
Newcastle – 8th – 0 goals
West Brom – 14th – 3 goals
Arsenal – 3rd – 0 goals
Fulham – 16h – 2 goals
Everton – 5th – 1 goal
Hull – 10th – 0 goals
Norwich – 15th – 4 goals
West Ham – 17th – 2 goals
Spurs – 6th – 2 goals
Cardiff – 18th – 2 goals
Manchester City – 1st – 0 goals
Chelsea – 2nd – 0 goals
Hull – 10th – 1 goal
Stoke – 12th – 2 goals

Suarez has played against all the teams in the top four this season but hasn’t scored a single goal in those games.

An incredible 60% of the goals he’s scored this season have come against teams ranked 15th or lower. 82% of the goals he’s scored have been against teams in the bottom half of the table.

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Oct 212013
 

Crystal Palace vs Fulham

– Crystal Palace could not find the performance necessary to halt a very strong Liverpool outfit during the last round, as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Despite Dwight Gayle grabbing a second-half consolation goal Palace were unable to contain a Liverpool side full of attacking intent and bolstered by Luis Suarez on his return to Anfield.

– Jason Puncheon has been a smart acquisition for Palace following his arrival on loan from Southampton. So far this season he’s racked up 113 successful passes in the opponent’s half, the highest total of any Palace player.

– He’s also been Palace’s most effective attacker, compiling a squad-leading total of 18 attacking contributions (assists, crosses, dribbles, shots on goal).

– Mile Jedinak was once again the defensive stalwart for Palace last weekend, as he has been for much of the season to this point. Only Aaron Ramsey has attempted more tackles that the Australian this season (43) and even he cannot match Jedinak’s impressive success rate of 74.4%.

– However, even Jedinak cannot compete with Danny Gabbidon’s physical commitment to the cause, leading the Hammers squad as he does for blocks with 10 which also places him second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

– A vital goal from Darren Bent secured all three points for Fulham and relieved the pressure on embattled manager Martin Jol, as they produced a 1-0 home win over Stoke. Fulham fans will be hoping that this is the turning of the tide and will be looking for Jol’s men to capitalize on their newfound momentum against Palace this weekend.

– Adel Taarabt continues to impress when give the chance this season, boasting the best accuracy rate in front of goal of any Fulham player this season with 80% of his 5 attempts on goal testing the opposition goalkeeper.

– Martin Jol will be hoping that last weekend’s clean sheet will be the first of many to come, especially with David Stockdale currently sitting as the third busiest ‘keeper in the league with 27 saves according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

– Captain Bred Hangleand continues to lead from the front in defence this season, the giant centre-half racking up a squad-leading 69 defensive contributions. He will looking to improve his current tackle success rate though, 44.4% from 9 attempted challenges representing far too low a rate for a defender of his quality.

– The goals have not flowed as easily as Martin Jol would have hoped at the beginning of this season, but his players must start getting more attempts on goal away if this is to improve. So far no Fulham player has broken into double-figures for total attempts on goal according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

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Oct 202013
 

Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur

– Aston Villa welcome Tottenham to Villa Park looking to continue their 3 match unbeaten run. Tottenham, on the other hand, will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat at home to West Ham

– One player Roy Hodgson may look to experiment with in the forthcoming international friendlies is midfielder Fabian Delph. The former Leeds man has been in scintillating form this season, which can be evident in his tackling. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the central midfielder has attempted 38 challenges, and been successful in 71% of them.

– Delph’s defensive dependability is also clear in the number of interceptions he has made this term. In making 17 interceptions he doubles the tally of his nearest competitor Antonio Luna, who has only managed 8.

– Defender Matthew Lowton has been a near ever-present for Aston Villa since Paul Lambert took the reins, and his ability to find a man in the opposition half has certainly been impressive. The former Sheffield United right back has completed a pass in the opposition half every 2.9 minutes.

– Credit should be given to Ciaran Clark for helping the Villains secure a draw for away to Hull. The Irish centre half made 23 clearances against the Tigers – more than any other player in the league.

– This season, however, skipper Ron Vlaar has overshadowed Clark’s performances. The Dutchman has made 79 defensive contributions (based on clearances, blocks, interceptions and tackles), the most in Paul Lambert’s squad.

– Tottenham succumbed to a disappointing defeat at home to West Ham in the last match before the international break.

– Andros Townsend has certainly made the headlines over the past week for his stellar performances for England, and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates how influential he’s been for Tottenham this campaign. The silky winger has completed 33 dribbles this season, more than any other player in the league.

– The youngster’s hardworking mentality has been praised recently, following his willingness to ply his trade in the lower leagues and develop his game. His positive attitude was on show against West Ham on Saturday, as the team may have been disappointing, but he was still willing to take his full back on – he completed more dribbles than any other player in the league.

– Lewis Holtby might have only been given a proper chance to impress in Europe this year, but he has certainly shown his ability to pass the ball in the few minutes he has played for Spurs in the league. Despite only featuring for 49 minutes, he has completed 39 passes in the opposition half, at an average of a pass every 0.2 minutes.

– Michael Dawson will be desperate to maintain his form this year to try and force his way back into the England fold. The former Nottingham Forest man has made 77 defensive contributions this campaign (based on clearances, blocks, tackles and interceptions). The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that this is more than any other player in the Spurs squad.

– Christian Eriksen has made a positive start to his Tottenham career, with his passing exploits gaining particular recognition. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index also demonstrates that his shooting accuracy has been impressive, as he has hit the target with 80% of his shots.

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