Stoke v Everton, Saturday 15:00
Stoke played out a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa in their last game in a game which created few chances, but continue to find themselves in touching distance of a European place
Hard graft has been the watch word at Stoke this season, and the Potter will on Saturday become the third team in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to break 1,000 miles run as a squad in Premier League games this season. They came within a whisker last weekend, taking their total to 999.58 miles this season
They will need to face Everton without Ryan Shotton, who is suspended after receiving a red card against Villa. Shotton has had limited opportunities this season but has contributed defensively 31 times, including 11 interceptions and 10 tackles. That’s an average of one defensive duty every 14 minutes at 56 seconds on the pitch this season
Robert Huth, however, makes those stats look modest with a defensive contribution every 8 minutes 39 seconds, a huge 178 in total, the fifth busiest defensive player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index
That includes an impressive tackles won percentage of 68.75% from 48 attempted and a huge 104 interceptions, one of seven players who have turned over possession more than 100 times this season
Everton pulled off a fantastic comeback in their last game, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 against Spurs to win thanks to late goals from Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic
Jelavic is starting to look back to his lethal best which saw him make such an impact on the Premier League when he arrived at Everton in January. He now has six goals from 40 efforts in goal with exactly 50% on target. That’s an average 6.6 shots per goal or one every 222 minutes 10 seconds.
Compare that to last season though, and Jelavic scored 9 goals at an average of exactly 4 shots per goal and one every 112 minutes 13 seconds.
Steven Naismith has spoken this week of the difficulty he felt in making the same journey as Jelavic and leaving Rangers for Everton. Naismith has already shown himself to be similarly ruthless in front of goal to Jelavic, hitting 3 goals from just 9 efforts at goal this season
There was a fairy tale feel to Steven Pienaar’s goal against his former club starting the Everton comeback, and it was no less than should be expected after a fantastic start to the season from Pienaar. He is ranked 7th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed in his opponent’s half with 474 – more than Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata (472) and City’s midfield maestro David Silva (453)
At the other end of the pitch, Phil Jagielka has been in sensational form this season, allowing the midfielders in front of him to push on and add to Everton’s attacking threat. No other player has made more contributions to his team defensively, with Jagielka interrupting opposition play an incredible 194 times including winning 85.3% of 41 tackles attempted, making 28 clearances and a huge 112 interceptions