– Ten-man Arsenal secured what could be a valuable win away to Sunderland as they held on for a 0-1 win at the Stadium of Light. A rasping Santi Cazorla shot was enough for Arsene Wenger’s men, as they battled to the end after losing Carl Jenkinson for a second bookable offence.
– Despite only playing 1408 minutes of football this season, Jack Wilshere has already completed 560 passes in the opponent’s half. This pass rate places him 5th on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for minutes per pass.
– In his absence, Santi Cazorla has been more than willing to shoulder the burden of creative midfield general. The diminutive Spanish wizard is currently sitting on 998 passes completed in the opponent’s half this season and will be expecting to become potentially the first player to break the 1000-mark this weekend. Hi nearest rival is Yaya Toure on 942.
– Although he has been criticized at times for his performances this season, Per Mertesacker boasts some of the best defensive statistics in the entire Arsenal squad. Not only do he have a 71% tackle success rate from 31 challenges, he also leads the Gunners’ squad for clearances (30) and interceptions (45).
– Expect to see Theo Walcott use his pace to get in behind Aston Villa’s much-troubled defence and test Brad Guzan this weekend. The England forward has been revelling in his time spent in more central positions and is third in the Arsenal squad for attempts on goal (57) and has the strongest shot accuracy rate in the squad for players with over 10 attempts (68.4%).
– Aston Villa claimed all three points in a crucial 2-1 over West Ham last time out. Despite an Ashley Westwood own goal, strikes from Christian Benteke and Charles N’Zogbia were enough to give Paul Lambert’s men continued hope of maintaining their Premier League status.
– Arsenal are having trouble with their wide defensive setup at present so expect to see Matthew Lowton making some charges down the flanks this weekend. He’s so far delivered 31 crosses and has completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other Villa player this season (317).
– Although Villa’s defenders have been criticized repeatedly this season, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that there is certainly no lack of quality amongst their defensive leaders. Ciaran Clark has made an exceptional 225 positive defensive contributions this term, including 28 blocks, the third highest in the league.
– Much of Villa’s hopes will inevitably fall on the broad shoulders of Christian Benteke as they push for Premier League survival. The striker has had 76 shots on goal and has the best accuracy rate (71.1%) of any player in the top 20 for number of attempts on goal.
– Villa keeper Brad Guzan has been called into action repeatedly this season but has kept on rising to the challenge. He leads the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves with 152.