West Ham v Reading 16:00
– West Ham may have been forgiven for thinking they were extras to the David Moyes show in their last outing, as the Hammers lost 2-0 to Everton in Moyes’ last home game in charge of the Toffees. However, Kevin Nolan twice went close to raining on the soon to be Manchester United manager’s parade.
– Andy Carroll has been a handful for defences all season, and the game against Everton was no different. He won 8 duels, more than any other player on the pitch.
– That aerial prowess combined with Matt Jarvis’ frequent deliveries (he contributed six crosses against Everton, the most of last weekend in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index) suggests that if both stay at Upton Park next season, and stay fit, then Hammers fans can expect that partnership to start delivering more goals next season.
– At the other end of the pitch, James Collins made six clearances in the game, the most by any player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this weekend.
– Reading were on the receiving end of Man City’s FA Cup final payback on Tuesday night, losing to them 2-0. Reading won just 37% of duels in the game, their lowest of the season so far, as City took out their frustration on the Royals.
– Alex McCarthy’s palms will also be stinging from City’s strikers taking their revenge on the Reading goal mouth. He made 13 saves in the game, the joint highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for the last round of games and the third highest of the season.
– Adrian Mariappa, meanwhile, made four blocks, the most by a player in the last round of games. Mariappa sits second in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for interceptions this season, having disrupted opposition play with 221 interceptions this season.
– Mikele Leigertwood, meanwhile, is the second highest ranked midfielder for defensive contributions this season having made 242 across tackles won, blocks, clearances and interceptions.
– Adam le Fondre hit an excellent run of goal scoring form early in the season but has had fewer opportunities as the season has gone on. However, he looks likely to end the season with some of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s most impressive goal scoring stats. Of the 25 players who have scored ten or more goals this season Le Fondre has taken the fewest efforts at goal (45) to do so.
Fulham v Reading, 15:00
– Fulham left Merseyside with nothing last weekend following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park.
– Hugo Rodallega continues to compile some impressive figures this season, despite spending the large majority of it in the shadow of the in-form Dimitar Berbatov. The Colombian front man has the best shooting accuracy rate in the Fulham squad, managing to get 68.1% of his 47 efforts on target, at an average rate of one every 48.8 minutes.
– Midfielder Steven Sidwell remains the Cottagers most enthusiastic defender this season, racking up a squad-high 127 attempted challenges this term nearly double that of his nearest team mate (Sascha Reither – 69). However Sidwell has also concede the greatest number of fouls in the Fulham squad at 51. He must keep his defending tight to prevent the ball from returning to a Reading side with nothing to lose this weekend.
– Although noted for his finishing ability, Bryan Ruiz has been highly effective in his link-up play this season. He’s completed 588 passes in the opponent’s half this season, at an average rate of one every 3.9 minutes. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this is the third best rate of any striker in the Premier League to have broken the 500-pass barrier so don’t be surprised if he registers an assist this weekend.
– Reading’s fate was confirmed for next season as they were relegated to the Championship along with fellow bottom side QPR following a 0-0 draw last weekend.
– Captain Jobi McAnuff will want his Reading side to finish the season on a high for the sake of the fans after a disappointing season which resulted in their relegation from the top flight. Expect him to be driving their play forward against Reading, especially given his record of providing more attacking contributions (assists, shots on target, crosses or dribbles) that any other Royals player this season with 139.
– A lack of goals has been one of the key factors in Reading’s drop to the Championship for next season, which makes it difficult to understand why leading goalscorer Adam Le Fondre hasn’t featured more as a regular starter. Despite having a slightly wasteful 47.7% shot accuracy rate from 44 attempts, Le Fondre has still managed to get a shot on target on average once every 35.5 minutes. That this is the best rate in the Reading squad becomes even more impressive when you consider that most of Le Fondre’s appearances this season have come as a second-half substitute.
– Although their defence has at times been found wanting this term, Adrian Mariappa has certainly put in his fair share of shifts at the back. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s made a squad-leading 316 defensive contributions this season (block, clearance, interceptions, successful tackles), at an average rate of one every 8.2 minutes, another squad-best.
Reading v QPR, 13:30
– Despite a second-half goal from Gareth McCleary, Reading were left clinging to their hopes for Premiership football next season after a 2-1 defeat away to Norwich.
– Adam Le Fondre’s ability to score goals at vital times could be the key to Reading’s hopes of remaining in the top flight, the ‘super-sub’ chipping in with 10 goals this season. His success has come off the back of a solid work rate and knack of being able to get his shots off in and around the box, given that he’s managed a shot on goal once every 35.6 minutes he’s been on the pitch, a squad-high.
– The defensive efforts of Mikele Leigertwood have stood out particularly this season, despite Reading’s struggles at the back. Aside from Matthew Lowton and James McClean, Leigertwood has the best tackle success rate of any player in the Premier League to have made more than 100 attempted challenges, with 66.4% ending in his favour according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Adrian Mariappa is another who has made something of a name for himself despite Reading’s turbulent season, the Englishman having made the the 5th highest number of defensive contributions of any player in the league this season with 306 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– QPR’s status as a Premier League side next year was left in tatters after a 0-2 defeat at home to Stoke left them with an almost impossible mountain to climb between now and the end of the season.
– With QPR’s Premier League survival now in more danger than ever, the club may be hard pushed to retain some of their prized assets come the summer. Adel Taarabt is one who has caught the eye in particular, the Moroccan’s quick feet contributing to his 46 dribbles this season, a figure placing him 3rd on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Captain Clint Hill can certainly not be faulted for a lack of effort or quality in QPR’s long battle this season, the defender acquiring some admirable defensive statistics. He’s averaged a defensive contribution once every 7.9 minutes this season, a best from players with more than 200 to their name.
– Stephane Mbia will be desperate to see his tackling statistics improve somewhat before the end of the season. Despite being QPR’s most enthusiastic defender, with 110 attempted challenges to his name, Mbia unfortunately also has the third lowest tackle success rate in the league for players with 100 or more tackles to their name (44.5%).
Norwich v Reading, 15:00
– Norwich came within five minutes of beating Arsenal at the Emirates in their last league outing just to find themselves undone by a late salvo from the Gunner and leave on the end of a 3-1 defeat.
– Michael Turner’s 56th minute goal had given the travelling Canaries fans reason to cheer, but they now find themselves just four points clear of the relegation zone ahead of what could be a vital game against bottom club Reading.
– That was Turner’s third goal of the season, despite having had just nine efforts at goal. Turner has been more effective in employing his defensive duties this season, making 114 interceptions, 47 clearances and 20 blocks.
– Robert Snodgrass has had a strong first season for Norwich, though he may be forgiven for being frustrated that his hard work hasn’t come to more. Of the 38 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index who have had 50 or more shots at goal this season, Snodgrass is one of six to have a return of just five or fewer goals to his name. However, with a 63% on target rating more goals will surely come for the former Leeds winger.
– Snodgrass is also the leading player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance for crosses delivered this season with 128, 13 more than Leighton Baines and 20 more than Gareth Bale. Those crosses have resulted in 6 assists.
– Snodgrass has also won 66 tackles this season, the fifth highest for a midfielder in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Alex McCarthy drew all the plaudits after a string of sensational saves in Reading’s last game to earn them a 0-0 draw against Liverpool. McCarthy made 12 saves in total, the sixth highest by a goalkeeper in a single game in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this season.
– That takes McCarthy’s number of saves this season to 67 from just 766 minutes of football. With most goalkeepers having played around 3,000 minutes this season, that would take McCarthy to the top of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves this season if he had averaged the same performances for the whole season.
– At the other end of the pitch Noel Hunt and Jobi McAnuff both brought the best out in McCarthy’s Liverpool counterpart Pepe Reina. Hunt has two goals to his name this season, though he has had just 14 shots at goal this season with 10 on target.
– McAnuff, meanwhile, is running out of time to break his Premier League duck, still being goalless despite 31 shots at goal with 20 on target.
– Adam le Fondre has been stuck on ten goals this season for a long time, but still boasts the best shots per goal rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for those hitting ten goals this season, needing just 4.3 shots per goal, something Norwich will need to be wary of.
Reading v Liverpool, 15:00
– Reading’s hopes of avoiding the drop as they fell to a 0-2 defeat at home to new manager Nigel Adkins’ old side Southampton.
– Captain Jobi McAnuff may well be the man Nigel Adkins’ side turns to help them get something out an uphill task this weekend. McAnuff has been leading from the front this campaign, delivering a squad-high 66 crosses and 8 assists, as well as chipping in with 111 defensive contributions at the other end of the pitch. His box-to-box style will be crucial for the Royals against a talented Liverpool midfield.
– Whilst many around him have been failing to put in a defensive shift this season, the same cannot be said of Mikele Leigertwood and he will need to be on top of his game to deal with the likes of Luis Suarez and Phillippe Coutinho. The midfielder has attempted 115 tackles this season, at a success rate of 63.5%, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Despite repeatedly starting games on the bench, super-sub Adam Le Fondre has been consistently coming to Reading’s rescue this season and Nigel Adkins may well see fit to use him against a strong Liverpool side. The striker has had an effort on goal once every 35.2 minutes, the best average in the Royals squad and his ability to carve out a chance or two could be vital this weekend.
– An excellent defensive display from West Ham saw them shut out Liverpool last weekend in a 0-0 draw which damaged the Reds’ hopes of European football next season.
– Liverpool’s talisman Luis Suarez continues to rack up the impressive statistics this season and he will be looking to test what has been a shaky Reading defence this season. His movement and pace has seen him have a shot on goal on average once every 18.9 minutes to complement a shot accuracy rate of 59.6% from 156 attempts.
– Brazilian midfielder Lucas this week signed a new long-term deal to keep on Merseyside for the next stage of his career. The Reds will be hoping he can overcome the niggling injuries that have held him back recently given his ability to dictate the pace and possession of a game when fully fit. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Lucas has completed a pass on average once every 4.45 minutes this season and is also Liverpool’s most frequent tackler with 94 attempted challenges.
– Fellow Brazilian Phillippe Coutinho may well mature into the perfect foil for Lucas’ ability to read the game and control possession, the young attacker already showing signs of possessing the talent to unlock Premier League defences. Despite his small stature and diminutive frame, Coutinho has already managed to adapt to the physical defences of the Premier League, compiling a 73.3% shot accuracy rate from 15 attempts. This means a shot on target once every 43.7 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.
Arsenal v Reading 15:00
– Arsenal return from the international break having last played in the Premier League against Swansea, coming away with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Nacho Monreal and Gervinho
– Gervinho may have had a hard time from sections of the Arsenal fans this season, but he has averaged a goal every 208 minutes 15 seconds in the Premier League this season, within seconds of being equal to Podolski’s goal scoring record and better than Giroud’s goal every 225 minutes 7 seconds.
– While Arsenal fight for fourth in the Premier League, Santi Cazorla looks set to finish the season top of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes in the opposition half. Cazorla has completed 1115 passes this season, 117 more than his nearest rival Yaya Toure. Behind Cazorla and Toure, Mikel Arteta is ranked third with 943 passes completed.
– Monreal has also taken on his team mates’ passing philosophy, and despite having only played 484 minutes for the Gunners has completed 102 passes in the opposition half, also now having a goal and an assist to his name.
– Reading are known for their wing play, but they will find an unlikely obstacle to their crosses in Olivier Giroud. Giroud has made more clearances this season than any other striker with 28. To put that in context, that’s just 3 fewer than Spurs’ centre back Jan Vertonghen.
– Nigel Adkins has 8 games to make up the 7 points on Aston Villa and clear the relegation zone after Reading fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United in their last game.
– One player who may yet haul the Royals clear of trouble is striker Adam le Fondre. Le Fondre has scored ten goals this season, averaging one every 141 minutes 54 seconds this season. Le Fondre has played 1419 minutes this season, but if he had maintained that minutes per goal rating while playing every minute available to him he would have 20 goals to his name and be the league’s second top scorer after Luis Suarez.
– Of the players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have scored ten goals Le Fondre has also taken the fewest shots at goal to hit the milestone, needing just 39 shots for 10 goals. Compare that to Spurs and England striker Jermain Defoe, who has taken 98 shots to hit ten goals this season.
– Hal Robson-Kanu came close to scoring against Manchester United and adding to his four goals already this season. Robson-Kanu has hit his goals from an efficient 23 efforts.
– Reading’s main threat will come from the wings, with Nicky Shorey having delivered 56 crosses, the joint second highest from a full back in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index after Leighton Baines. Gareth McLeary, meanwhile, has delivered 40 crosses, second only to Robin van Persie among the league’s strikers.
Man Utd v Reading, Saturday 17:30
– United were leading 2-0 against Chelsea last weekend but ending up conceding twice to draw 2-2 with Chelsea. Chicarito Hernandez and Wayne Rooney were on target in that game.
– Hernandez continues to top the minutes per goal rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index having scored 8 times in the Barclays Premier League this season averaging a goal every 93 minutes and 30 seconds.
– Rooney’s goal was his 11th of the season, coming from 64 shots at goal with 67.2% on target and an average of 145 minutes per goal.
– As importantly, Rooney has worked tirelessly for his team mates this season, averaging a pass completed in opposition territory every 3 minutes and contributing 9 assists to add to his 11 assists.
– Rio Ferdinand was recalled to the England squad this week, and the stats suggest he could still do a job for the Three Lions. Ferdinand has made 133 defensive contribution this season across tackles, clearances, blocks and interceptions. That averages as one every 14 minutes 15 seconds, a good rate for a player used to playing in a team that dominates possession.
– Ferdinand has always been comfortable on the ball, and has demonstrated that again this season, completing 208 passes in the opposition half, an average of one every 9 minutes 8 seconds.
– Reading suffered a heavy blow in their relegation battle in their last game, losing 2-1 to Aston Villa. Jobi McAnuff forced an own goal from Nathan Baker in that game, but it wasn’t enough and Reading are now level on points at the bottom of the league with QPR.
– That forced own goal is the closest McAnuff’s name has come to the score sheet this season, having had 27 shots at goal including 10 on target without scoring. Only Swansea’s Sung Yeung Ki has had more shots without scoring.
– McAnuff has, however, contributed 7 assists and delivered 64 crosses, the 8th highest among the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Reading’s wide play has been a feature this season, and Nicky Shorey is also ranked highly for crosses delivered with 53, the fourth highest from a defender this season. Gareth McCleary, meanwhile, is second only to Robin van Persie among the Index’s strikers for crosses delivered with 37.
– Mikele Leigertwood became one of six players to have attempted 100 or more tackles this season against Villa. He has now attempted 103 tackles. Of those six players, Leigertwood has the best tackles won percentage, coming away with the ball after 64.1% of his tackles.
Everton v Reading, Saturday 15:00
– Two late goals stunning Everton as they lost 2-1 to Norwich at Carrow Road last weekend. Leon Osman’s first-half header formed part of a largely dominant performance by David Moyes’ side, but their superiority in possession counted for little as they left East Anglia with nothing.
– Reading have been loose in defence at times this season so Everton will be seeking to impose their attacking prowess at home this weekend. It will be no surprise to see Kevin Mirallas get involved in the action as he boasts the best shot accuracy rate in the Everton squad this season, with 71.1% of his 38 attempts being on target.
– Phil Jagielka remains David Moyes’ defensive titan this season, leading the squad for defensive contributions with 280 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. His nearest teammate is 90 contributions behind him.
– Midfielder Steven Pienaar has been one of the creative fulcrums for Everton this season. He leads the Toffees squad for passes completed in the opponents half with 758, at an excellent rate of one every 3.2 minutes.
– Leighton Baines became part of an exclusive club last weekend, as he joined Robert Snodgrass as one of only two players to have delivered more than 100 crosses this season (101).
– Reading were propelled further into the relegation dogfight last weekend, a 3-0 defeat at home to Wigan piling the pressure on Brian McDermott and his players.
– One wonders where Reading might be without the contribution of ‘super-sub’ Adam Le Fondre’s ten goals this season. He’s forcing himself into a starting berth in Brian McDermott’s side with his performances, having had a shot on target once every 63.2 minutes, the lowest in the Reading squad.l
– Mikele Leighterwood has impressed many with some of his attacking forays this season, consistently getting himself involved in Reading’s play moving forward. He leads the squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 394, one every 6.1 minutes.
– Defender Shaun Cummings has the best tackle success rate of any player in the league who’s made more than 20 challenges. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index reveals he’s come out on top in a superb 91.7% of his 24 challenges this season.
– Reading captain Jobi McAnuff has taken the bull by the horns this season and is clearly intent on driving his team forwards. He’s completed more dribbles (21) and crosses (58) than any other Royals player.
– Reading face Wigan on the back of consecutive 2-1 defeats at the hands of Manchester United in the Cup and Stoke in the Barclays Premier League.
– Jobi McAnuff was on target against United and Adrian Mariappa against Stoke. Despite his cup goal, McAnuff is yet to score in the Premier League despite 23 efforts at goal, the third highest number of shots without return in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Mariappa has been more used to excelling in his own box than the opposition box this season. He is ranked 5th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for clearances with 153, and 6th for blocks with 24.
– Jimmy Kebe is currently Reading’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in 151st, just one place ahead of Mariappa. Kebe has 5 goals this season from just 16 efforts at goal, an incredible conversion rate of 3.2 shots per goal (the best rating in the Premier League among players with 5 or more goals to their name).
– Kebe has also won an impressive 64.5% of the tackles he’s attempted, howing the midfielder excelling in both his offensive and defensive duties.
– Wigan have also had the same scoreline in their last two games, although they were on the winning end the second time around as they bounced back from a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League to win 4-1 in the Cup against Huddersfield.
– Shaun Maloney scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season against Chelsea. His goals have come from 32 efforts at goal. While his 8 shots per goals is not the most efficient rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, his on target percentage of 65.6% suggests he will add to his tally before the season is out.
– Maynor Figueroa made 17 interceptions in the game against Chelsea, the fourth highest by a Wigan player so far this season. That took his tally for the season to 93 interceptions.
– Ali al Habsi made 8 saves against Chelsea, his sixth busiest game of the season. That took his tally for the season to 137 saves, the 5th busiest goalkeeper in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– James McCarthy is ranked 11th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed in the opposition area, keeping company with a top 15 passers compiled exclusively from players from Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea.
Stoke v Reading 15:00
– Stoke came within 12 minutes of holding Arsenal in their last Premier League game, before losing out to a deflected Lukas Podolski free kick.
– Up until then Asmir Begovic had been in inspired form to keep the Gunners out. He’s made 130 saves this season, the 5th highest so far this season in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross has been putting his body on the line for Stoke this season, and has made the third highest number of blocks in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 27. Team mate Robert Huth is in 7th with 22.
– Stoke winger Matt Etherington has been unlucky with his deliveries this season, he has delivered 29 crosses without being credited an assist, more than any other midfielder in the league.
– Reading have made a habit of late winners recently, taking ten points from twelve in their last four games. Their latest victims were Sunderland, with Jimmy Kebe scoring both goals in a 2-1 win.
– Kebe’s goals took his tally for the season to five, from an efficient 16 efforts at goal with 68.8% on target. In fact, of the players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have scored five or more goals Kebe has needed the fewest shots per goal, with an average of 3.2 shots for each goal scored.
– Team mate Adam le Fondre has the fifth best shots per goal ratio in the league, averaging 3.6 shots for each of his ten goals this season, making them one of the most dangerous strike pairings in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– In the middle of the park, Jem Karacan is one of only 16 players in the league to have attempted 25 or more tackles while still maintaining a 75% + success rate for tackles won. Karacan has won 77.1% of the 35 he has attempted.
– Ian Harte is undergoing a renaissance of form this season at Reading, and delivered 9 crosses against Sunderland. Only Leighton Baines delivered more in the last round of games with 10.
– New signing Hope Akpan has made the step up to Premier League football seamlessly for Reading, contributing 3 assists in 3 appearances at an average of one every 48 minutes 20 seconds.
Reading came from a goal behind against Newcastle to win 2-1 thanks to a brace from Adam le Fondre.
Le Fondre’s goals took his tally for the season to eight coming from an efficient 32 shots at goal averaging exactly 4 shots per goal. To put that in context, league top scorer Robin van Persie averages 4.39 shots per goal.
Reading had Adam Federici to thank for keeping them in the game up til that point. The Reading ‘keeper made 11 saves during the game, the busiest goalkeeper in the last round of matches.
Mikele Leigertwood has excelled in the role of midfield enforcer this season, winning 62 tackles so far, the joint second highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He has also made more interceptions than any other midfielder with 104.
Jobi McAnuff has had an impressive season for Reading, but will be hoping the goals start to flow soon. The midfielder has had 23 shots at goal including 8 on target without scoring, the third highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index
Chelsea will need to put the drama of their League Cup exit and Eden Hazard’s red card behind them and return to concentrating on the Premier League. Their last league outing saw them beat Arsenal 2-1 thanks to goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard.
Mata and Lampard now have eight goals each in the Premier League this season, although Lampard has secured his at a rate of one every 116 minutes 53 seconds (the best ratio of any midfielder in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index) compared to Mata’s one every 209 minutes 45 seconds
Bot midfielders boast impressive accuracy in front of goal, with Mata getting 73% of his 41 shots at goal on target and Lampard 68% of this 28 shots.
However, Lampard is unusually yet to register an assist this season, despite having completed 245 passes in the opposition half. In comparison, Mata has 11 assists to his name having completed 689 passes in the opposition half.
Mata completes a pass in the opposition half every 2 minutes 26 seconds on average, the 6th best rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, discounting those players who have played less than 500 minutes.
Newcastle v Reading, Saturday 15:00
– Newcastle need to get used to life after Demba Ba, having scored just once in their two Premier League games since he left for Chelsea. Papiss Cisse scored that goal against Everton on January 2nd, before they played out a 0-0 draw with Norwich last weekend.
– Cisse’s goal was his 5th of the season, coming from 35 shots at goal with 48.5% of those on target.
– Newcastle’s back four have been beset by injury this season, but those players who have been brought in have excelled and have been among the league’s best defensive performers. Mike Williamson is ranked joint 7th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for clearances with 36 this season.
– Williamson overall has won 26 tackles, made 91 interceptions and 12 blocks to add to those clearances, averaging a defensive contribution every 9 minutes 59 seconds while on the pitch this season.
– Tim Krul, meanwhile, has made 111 saves, the 7th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Reading are making a habit of dramatic comebacks this season, and West Brom were the latest team to fall foul to the Royals ‘never say die’ attitude last weekend.
– Reading were trailing 2-0 against the Baggies before goals from Jimmy Kebe, Adam le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak saw them leave 3-2 winners.
– Reading’s strikers have been in efficient form this season. Le Fondre’s goal was his sixth league goal of the season, having come from 30 shots at goal with exactly 50% on target. Pogrebnyak has hit five goals from 17 shots with 57.8% on target, while Kebe has hit three goals from 13 shots at goal with 69.23% on target.
– Overall, that gives the Reading strike force an impressive conversion rate of 14 goals from 60 shots, or a goal every 4.28 shots, a better conversion rate than league top scorer Robin van Persie who converts a goal every 4.53 shots.
– At the other end of the pitch, Shaun Cummings is excelling for the Royals at right back and has the best tackles won percentage in the league, discounting players who have attempted fewer than 20 tackles. Cummings has lost out on just two tackles this season to make a 91.67% success rate.
Reading v West Brom, Saturday 15:00
– Reading’s troubled season continued with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham on new year’s day their last Premier League outing, with Pavel Pogrebnyak scoring their only goal. However, they were able to reverse that scoreline in the FA Cup, knocking out previous giant killers Crawley with Adam le Fondre scoring a brace and Noel Hunt also on the score sheet.
– Le Fondre has scored five goals in the Premier League this season, averaging one every 200 minutes 12 seconds and taking an average of six chances for every goal scored.
– Brian McDermott has urged the club to seal a new contract for defender Alex Pearce, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Pearce has played just 899 minutes for Reading in the league this season, but has won 65.2% of tackles he has attempted, made 19 clearances and 50 interceptions.
– Adrian Mariappa has also been one of the busiest defenders in the league this season, averaging a defensive contribution (tackle won, interception made, clearance or block) every 6 minutes 54 seconds, the 4th busiest defender in the league this season.
– Midfielder Mikele Leigertwood, meanwhile, has won the third highest number of tackles in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 60, 63.8% of all tackles attempted overall.
– Reading have had their share of bad luck this season, with both goalkeepers Adam Federici and Alex McCarthy suffering injuries at differing stages. McCarthy has best minutes per save rating in the league, having been called into action once every 13 minutes 41 seconds.
– West Brom will be hoping for a return to early season form, as their last Premier League outing saw fall to a 2-1 defeat to Fulham, with Romelu Lukaku scoring their solitary goal, while they face an FA Cup third round replay after drawing with QPR last weekend. Shane Long scored the opening goal for the Baggies in that one.
– Lukaku has been an inspired signing since joining from Chelsea on loan, have contributed a goal or assist every 25 minutes and 3 seconds this season, the fourth highest in the league behind only Chicarito Hernandez, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney.
– Shane Long seems to have also benefited from the presence of the powerful Belgium striker alongside him, having scored 5 goals from 24 efforts at goal with 13 of those on target.
– Since then QPR have bid for West Brom defender Jonas Olsson, with the Baggies turning down a reported £5 million bid. Olsson has been in incredible form this season. Outside of players for the top four teams, only Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams rank above Olsson among the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s defenders.
– This has been underpinned by Olsson’s dominance in the air, which sees him lead the tables for clearances with 55 so far this season. He has been supported in that respect by fellow defender Gareth McAuley who is in third place having made 45 clearances.
Reading remain bottom of the Premier League after the Christmas period has so far given them a 0-0 draw with Swansea and 1-0 loss to Man City.
Mikele Leigertwood has covered more ground than any other player for Reading this season, and has also attempted the third highest number of tackles in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 80 tackles attempted and 61.25% won
Adam le Fondre was unlucky to be denied by a sensational goal line clearance by Chico in the game against Swansea. The striker has five goals this season, from 30 efforts at goal with exactly half on target.
His rate of a goal every 195 minutes is comparable with Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, who averages one every 192 minutes, suggesting that if le Fondre gets the chances then he could help fire Reading off the bottom of the Premier League table
West Ham’s inconsistent start to the season continues after a 2-1 loss to Everton in their last game, with a Carlton Cole goal early on wasn’t enough to prevent Everton bouncing back to win 2-1
Cole has been impressive in his role deputizing for injured West Ham strike duo of Andy Carroll and Mohammed Diame. Cole has scored twice for West Ham this season, though he has needed 20 efforts at goal to score them. However, a healthy on target ratio of 60% suggests that more goals will come for the striker if he keeps testing goalkeepers
Mark Noble has been one of West Ham’s most impressive performers this season. Of the top twenty players to have attempted the most tackles, Noble has the best percentage of tackles won. He has attempted 71 and won 64.8% of them.
Young defender Winston Reid has also been a stand out performer, and has contributed 80 interceptions, 20 clearances and 14 blocks this season
– Man City rebounded in some style from their disappointing loss to bitter rivals Man Utd last week with a fine 1-3 win away to Newcastle. Samir Nasri in particular shone before being injured following an under-par showing against the Red Devils, whilst Yaya Toure produced a performance of guile and force to suggest he is reaching his peak form once again.
– Yaya Toure’s performance against Monday was symptomatic of a midfield powerhouse at the peak of his powers and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index confirms this rise in form. The big Ivorian has completed 699 passes in his opponent’s half this season and also recently joined the select group of player to pass the 100 mile mark for distance covered with 101.61 miles recorded.
– No striker in the Premier League has provided more opportunities for his team mates to score than Carlos Tevez, the Argentinian front man already recording 10 assists placing him joint 1st on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Spaniard David Silva complemented his vision and technique with a workmanlike performance against Newcastle, grafting harder than any other player on the pitch as he ran for 6.55 miles.
– Samir Nasri will be keen to get back on the pitch as soon as possible to keep on improving upon his early form against Newcastle last weekend. The talented Frenchman will be determined to build on his statistics this season which have been slightly underwhelming at 3 assists and only a 8% conversion rate from 12 attempts on goal.
– Gareth Barry is often described as the player that helps his teammates shine, but the England international will be seeking greater consistency from his defensive playing for the remainder of the season. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s recorded 17 fouls and has a 43% tackle success rate from 28 challenges.
– A poor Reading performance led to a crushing defeat at the hands of Arsenal on Monday evening, the Royals falling to a 2-5 defeat. Whilst Adam Le Fondre and Jimmy Kebe did manage to make it onto the scoresheet, Reading never looked like containing a slick Arsenal side.
– Adam Le Fondre once again made a strong case for his inclusion to Brian McDermott this week, improving his goals per minute total to one every 189 minutes, the best in the Reading squad.
– Midfielder Mikele Leigertwood continues to be Reading’s most consistent force in the engine room this season, racking up a squad-high 245 successful passes in the opponent’s half this season.
– The imposing midfielder has also been putting in a shift in defence for the Royals this season, racking up an impressive 40 tackles at a success rate of 63%. He’s now made a defensive contribution every 12.5 minutes.
– Jay Tabb once again turned in another tireless performance against Arsenal, running for 6.94 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. This was the 7th time he’s topped the Reading leaderboard for distance run in a match this season.
– Hai Robson-Kanu has been Reading’s biggest threat on goal in this campaign so far, netting 3 goals and establishing a shot accuracy rate of 63% from 16 attempts.
– Defender Shaun Cummings may find himself under the scrutiny of the England management if he continues to turn in performances like those in the first half of the season. He has an incredible tackle success rate of 92% and has the best foul-to-tackle ratio in the league, conceding only once every 12 tackles.
Reading have been playing catch up for much of the season after having their game against Sunderland delayed because of a water logged pitch. That game finally took place on Tuesday night, and while the result didn’t go in Reading’s favour now they have played the same amount of games as their Premier League rivals there are some interesting stats emerging about the Royals
Reading are now one of only two teams in the league to have covered over 1,000 miles this season. 64.71 miles covered against Sunderland takes them to 1,000.6 miles this season, a figure bettered only by fellow newly promoted side Southampton.
That charge has been led by Mikele Leigertwood and Jobi McAnuff who are now both in the top 20 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for distance covered this season with 95.25 and 91.36 miles respectively
Catching up on the game in hand means Reading players have moved up the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in other categories as well. Kaspars Gorkss is now ranked 15th for the most defensive contributions so far this season. Gorkss has won 63.2% of his 38 attempted tackles this season and made an impressive 84 interceptions.
Jobi McAnuff, meanwhile, is now ranked 8th for completed dribbles this season with 16 and is joint 4th for assists with 6. He also joins team mate Nicky Shorey in the top 5 for crosses delivered, with Shorey in 3rd with 53 crosses delivered and McAnuff 5th with 49. Norwich are the only other club to have two players in the top ten crossers of the ball.
Arsenal got a much needed three points courtesy of two Mikel Arteta penalties in their last outing against West Brom, but will need to bounce back from a disappointing league cup exit in midweek.
Arteta has worked tirelessly to turn around Arsenal’s fortunes this season, and last weekend was one of four players to break the 100 mile barrier for distance covered over the season, totaling 101.3 miles so far, the fourth highest total in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index
Arteta has also completed 626 passes in the opposition half this season, the third highest in the Premier League so far this season, just one place behind team mate Santi Cazorla who has completed 658
Cazorla and Arteta have continued to build a formidable midfield pairing, with Arteta dong the defensive work and Cazorla proving the greater threat at goal. Cazorla has had 51 efforts at goal 60.7% on target, compared to Arteta’s 11 efforts with 54.5% on target. Defensively these stats are reversed, with Arteta attempting 62 tackles compared to Cazorla’s 22.
Arsenal fans bemoaning a lack of killer finishing may point the finger at new summer signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski who between them have had 77 shots at goal and just 7 goals, averaging 11 shots per goal. However, with 41 of those shots on target the pair must surely feel that they are due a change in fortune soon.
It was cold last night at the Stadium of Light, when Reading came into town. It began like a dream, when our own James McClean put the visiting side one nil down. After such a great start, the defence played their part and Mignolet seldom looked troubled. Before very long, with our wide men on song, Sunderland’s lead was doubled. Young Danny Rose as his confidence grows, gets forward more and more. It was his measured kick and Fletcher’s deft flick, that effectively slammed closed the door. There was more of the same as we went through the game, Reading rarely looked in it. And how the crowd roared when Sessegnon scored again, in the ninety third minute. So with a win to our name, we can face the next game, with hopes and ambitions anew. Our hiccups now cured, three points are assured – after all it’s only Man U.
Peter Sixsmith, whilst delighted with the result is however, not going overboard…
It was a pleasure to get up this morning and select a white shirt for work. That, along with a Sunderland tie, is my usual apparel after a win. They have been lingering at the bottom of the shirt draw since March, making only fleeting appearances.
As are Reading in the Premier League if last night was anything to go by. They were as poor a side as they were the last time they visited us and they went down at the end of that season, while we finished 15th. I can see the same happening this year.
Our performance was good enough to beat Reading. We scored three goals for the first time since Manchester City away last season. That all three came from players we expect to score is a bonus. No own goals or spectacular attempts from full backs, but solid goals from McClean, Fletcher and Sessegnon, names that should be appearing regularly on the scoresheet, gives some grounds for optimism.
McClean took the first one well, courtesy of some wretched goalkeeping from Federici. He should have caught the corner from Johnson and should have reacted quicker to the Derry man’s shot. He didn’t, and that gave us a perfect start.
Fletcher’s goal was a real striker’s goal. He reacted quickly to Rose’s through ball and finish was a sublime flick that left the keeper standing. At 2-0, it would have taken a Herculean effort by our defence to allow the Biscuitmen anything but crumbs.
We did help them by giving the ball away with regular monotony. It is infuriating to watch the players retain possession by playing it sideways and backwards and then, when the killer ball is required, giving it back to the opposition. All four midfielders were responsible for this and they were aided by O’Shea, whose distribution is on a par with Gary Breen of the fondly remembered 15 point season.
The back four were rarely threatened by a limp Reading attack and this gave Rose plenty of opportunities to move forward. He really does look a good player and my initial doubts about him are disappearing rapidly. He tackles well, goes forward effectively and excites the crowd – something that the likes of Gardner, Colback and Larsson rarely do.
I am sure that MON would like to put him on the permanent staff in January, but that depends on Spurs willingness to sell at a reasonable price and if Rose is willing to come to a club that still has a relegation battle on its hands. His Northern roots will hopefully pull him towards Sunderland rather than any other London club.
However, the real priority is a midfield player who will energise us. The current centre midfield pairing of Larsson (who had a good game last night – but he should have scored) and Colback, does not play at a high enough tempo. A player who can seize a game and score a couple of goals is required – from where I know not. It’s time for Pop Robson and Gordon Chisholm to rack up a few air miles to find us a Ukrainian or a Belgian who can do it.
Our rhythm, what there was of it, was not helped by injuries and subsequent reshuffles. Adam Johnson failed to reappear after half time due to a mean and unpleasant tackle by Jodi McAnuff, who put his leg across Johnson to stop him moving sideways.
It was a nasty challenge, totally unnecessary and reminiscent of one that I made on Barry Thompson in the school yard circa 1967. Barry picked himself up and punched me hard, three times, before saying “You won’t do that again, will you?” Had we a Kevin Ball or Jimmy McNab in this team, McAnuff would have spent the second half hiding in the showers. We are a bit of a soft touch at times.
So, we are out of the bottom three and trail our (allegedly) illustrious neighbours by a point. There is still a long way to go and we must start to pick up points between now and the end of January.
We go to Old Trafford on Saturday. I don’t think the white shirt will be needed on Monday.