Chelsea v Aston Villa, Sunday 16:00
– Chelsea will be hoping to mark their return to the Premier League with a win, following their disappointment in the World Club Cup. They will be looking to pick up where they left off in the league where on their last outing they beat Sunderland 1-3 at the Stadium of Light. Fernando Torres’ continued his return to prominence with two goals and Rafa Benitez will be looking to his star striker to again deliver the goods this weekend.
– Fernando Torres continues to shrug off the criticism that seems to always follow his play in recent months by compiling some truly excellent statistics. The Spanish striker appears to be approaching something close to his best again, racking up a 73% shot accuracy rate from 30 attempts, 6 goals and 5 assists.
– In the absence of John Terry, David Luiz has been keen to step into Chelsea’s defensive talisman’s shoes. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s been throwing himself into his work this season, making 48 interceptions and 11 clearances.
– Eden Hazard’s form may have dipped slightly since the start of the season but the Belgian magician has still be producing enough to see him joint top of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for assists with 10 as well as being Chelsea’s top dribbler with 19.
– Midfield maestro Juan Mata continues to be the fulcrum around which much of Chelsea’s play is centred. He’s successfully completed 472 passes in the opponent’s half this season and has provided 6 assists.
– No Chelsea player has given away more fouls this season than John Obi Mikel with 26, and Rafa Benitez will be looking to his midfield enforcer to tighten up some of his more wayward challenges in the next half of the season.
– Aston Villa produced a superb all-round performance as they dominated Brendan Rogers’ rising Liverpool side 1-3. An inspired Christian Benteke was too much for the Reds’ defence to handle as he helped himself to a brace, in between which he produced a sublime backheel to set up Andreas Weimann to slot home.
– All the headlines were unsurprisingly about Christian Benteke on Sunday, as the Belgian striker produced yet another stunning performance against Liverpool. He is now undoubtedly Aston Villa’s primary goal threat and is relishing life in the Premier League. He’s has 46 attempts on goal this season, 79% of which have worked the keeper.
– Crucial to the win over Liverpool was the hard work put in off the ball by the likes of Ashley Westwood, who ran for a highly impressive 7.06 miles according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He has now topped the Aston Villa distance charts now for a remarkable 8 games in a row.
– He still has a little way to go thought before he moves ahead of Matthew Lowton for distance travelled for Villa this season. He’s on the verge of breaking through the magic 100 mile barrier as he currently sits on 98.19 miles.
– If ever you needed evidence of what a captain who leads by example can do for a team, just take a look at Ron Vlaar. Aston Villa’s leader continues to pile up some remarkable defensive statistics according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Not only does he have a 74% success rate from his 31 attempted tackles, he’s also made 50 interceptions to boot.
– Bradley Guzan remains one of the busiest keepers in the league as we move into the next round of fixtures. The Villa stopper has made 93 saves this season, being called into action on average once every 15.5 minutes.