West Brom vs Sunderland 15:00
– Gareth McAuley notched up West Brom’s first league goal of the season in their 1-1 draw with Fulham last weekend, his injury-time header seeing the Baggies leave London with a point for their efforts. Steve Clarke will be hoping his side don’t leave it quite so late this weekend as Sunderland visit the Hawthorns.
– Jonas Olsson has continued in his role from last season as the bedrock of the West Brom defence. Indeed no player in the league can contend with his 48 recorded clearances so far this season.
– Olsson’s performance last weekend also deserve a mention, his 20 total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) representing the second highest total of any player in the last round according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– The Baggies appear to be struggling slightly without the imposing presence of Romelu Lukaku leading their line this season. So far James Morrison leads the West Brom squad for total attempts on goal with 5, but as yet no Baggies player has managed to establish a shot accuracy rate of greater than 50%.
– Despite a Mesut Ozil midfield masterclass, Sunderland will have felt rightly aggrieved following their loss to Arsenal after a costly mistake from the referee saw Jozy Altidore denied a goal that could have pushed them on to win the match. Instead they found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-3 scoreline and now face a tough trip to the West Midlands this weekend.
– Altidore turned in a typically muscular performance in attack for the Black Cats last weekend, his sheer strength managing to move Bacary Sagna off the ball in the lead-up to his goal that never was. It is probably unsurprising therefore that he is also currently Sunderland’s most effective man in front of goal this season, Steven Fletcher’s one on target attempt aside. The American international has so far seen 60% of his 5 attempts on goal test the keeper according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Somewhat surprisingly, it is Jack Colback who currently leads the Sunderland squad for passes completed in the opponent’s half, the defender racking up an impressive 69 in total so far this season.
– Modibo Diakite appears to be the man with the qualities needed to help take some of the defensive responsibility away from captain John O’Shea this season. Diakite tops the Sunderland squad for total defensive contributions so far this campaign, with an excellent 44 to his name (tackles won, blocks, interceptions, clearances) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.