Sunderland vs Manchester United, Saturday 15:00
– The Red Devils travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, with both managers desperate for a win for very different reasons. Kevin Ball will be hoping that a victory over the Champions will improve his chances of landing the Sunderland job permanently, whilst David Moyes will be hoping to relieve some of the pressure that has built up on him.
– Sunderland succumbed to a 3-1 loss to Liverpool on Sunday, and, predictably, old boy Simon Mignolet thwarted their efforts. No other keeper made more saves than Mignolet’s 5 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Adam Johnson will feel particularly aggrieved by the performance of his former teammate, as the winger had 4 shots at the weekend – the second most in the league. You can find Johnson at 23/2 with 888sport.com to open the scoring on Saturday.
– In Ball’s first match in charge he handed Carlos Cuellar his first start of the season, and it appears that this was a masterstroke by Sunderland’s caretaker manager. The former Aston Villa centre half made 20 defensive contributions (based on tackles won, clearances, blocks and interceptions), which was more than anyone else in the league.
– This figure is even more impressive when examining the total number of defensive contributions other Sunderland players have made all season. Modibo Diakite leads the way, making 53 defensive contributions this season – only 23 more than Cuellar despite playing four times as many minutes.
– Former Black Cats manager Paulo di Canio was criticized for the number of signings that he made this Summer, but one new boy who shone on Saturday was midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the midfielder made 35 passes in the opposition half, more than any other Sunderland player.
– Despite Wayne Rooney producing another stellar performance, Manchester United suffered a shock defeat at home to West Brom in the last round of Premier League fixtures.
– However, their dominance throughout the fixture is evident in the performance of midfielder Michael Carrick. The midfield general completed 58 passes in West Brom’s half on Saturday, which was more than any other player in the league.
– Carrick’s ability to boss the middle of the park was also on show by the number of interceptions he made on Saturday. The England international made 5 interceptions at the weekend, more than anyone else in his team and the most in the league.
– The decision to award winger Nani a 5 year contract was greeted with scepticism by many, but the Portugese winger dribbling ability was evident on Saturday. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights that he completed 8 dribbles on Saturday – the most in the league.
– Nani also swung in 3 crosses on Saturday, which was the joint most in the league. The Portugese winger is 17/2 to score the first goal of the match with 888sport.com.