Stoke v West Ham, Saturday 15:00
– Stoke fell victim to a piece of Dimitar Berbatov genius last weekend as they left Craven Cottage with nothing following a 1-0 defeat.
– The list of suitors for Asmir Begovic appears to be growing following the arrival of Jack Butland in January and it’s not hard to see why. The Bosnian stopper boasts 139 saves this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Stoke fans will have been pleased to see Ryan Shawcross sign a new contract recently given his value to the Potters’ defence. His centre-half partnership with Robert Huth continues to develop and been the two of them they have made an excellent 481 defensive contributions this season, including 277 interceptions and 54 blocks.
– Peter Crouch could certainly learn a thing or two from his defensive colleagues. He has one of the lowest tackle success rates in the league, having come out on top in on 9% of his 51 attempted challenges.
– Stoke have traditionally been viewed as primarily a defensive team who rely on physical stature and long-ball tactics to win games but they are slowly removing this label. They now have 7 players in the squad who have made 200 or more passes in the opponent’s half this season.
– A valiant effort was not enough to earn West Ham anything as Tottenham, powered by the superb Gareth Bale, snatched a 2-3 victory at the death last weekend.
– Whilst not yet back to his imposing best, Andy Carroll looks to be inching back to somewhere near his best form. He’s had an attempt on target once every 63 minutes he’s been on the field this season.
– James Tomkins has been demonstrating some outstanding consistency at the other end of the park as well, establishing an excellent tackle success rate of 77% from 39 attempted challenges.
– The Hammer’s go-to man still seems to be Mark Noble though, given his sheer level of involvement in their play in their centre of the park. He’s made more passes than any other West Ham player in the opponent’s half (502) according to EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Noble has also provided the second highest number of crosses (46) and the joint highest number of assist (3) for Sam Allardyce’s team this season.