Arsenal vs Chelsea 20:00
Arsenal endured a torrid time at the Etihad, seeing Manchester City run rampant in a 6-3 win. There was a bright spot on a dark day with Theo Walcott grabbing a brace as he continues his return from injury but it was still a humbling outing for the Gunners in a game which surely solidified City’s title credentials.
Aaron Ramsey has become a talismanic figure for the Gunners this season, finally delivering on his undoubted potential following a string of injury and confidence setbacks. Of the players in the top 20 for total shots attempted, Ramsey has the best shot accuracy rate. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s worked the ‘keeper with an excellent 70% of his 30 shots this season.
The Welshman was once again in fine fettle against City despite a losing effort, completing passes in the opponent’s half at the best average rate of any player to have completed more than 10 passes. He racked up one every 1.48 minutes he was on the pitch at the Etihad.
Another player who has seemingly found his feet at the Emirates this season is Olivier Giroud who has certainly been firing on goal with abandon this term. He’s third in the league for total attempts on goal with 42 (Suarez – 57; Aguero – 51).
Laurent Koscielny’s injury will have been an Arsenal fan’s worst nightmare after the Frenchman’s incredible form so far this term. He’s not only won an excellent 80% of his 35 attempted challenges, but he also ranks third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total interceptions with 45.
Chelsea sneaked past Crystal Palace last weekend thanks to goals from Fernando Torres and Willian after being second-best for the majority of the game. Jose Mourinho will be desperate for his side to start hitting some form as his inconsistent start to his second stint with the club continued.
Eden Hazard is fast developing into one of the most crucial players at Stamford Bridge under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho. The young Belgian’s decision-making is one area in particular which has seen dramatic improvement, Hazard now choosing to find his teammates with his vision and passing ability rather than attempting to go it alone. He leads the Blues squad for total passes completed in the opponent’s half with 517. That’s an average of one every 2.6 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.
Hazard has now also surpassed Tottenham’s Andros Townsend as the league’s most profilic dribbler this season, his performance against Crystal Palace seeing his total rise to 57.
Juan Mata has been clearly working hard to impress Mourinho when given the chance and show him that his defensive work can now match his exceptional play going forward. He’s completed a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 2.2 minutes, a squad-high.
Chelsea’s problems up front have been well-documented this season, with a lack of a recognised in-form striker continuing to hamper their season. Jose Mourinho will be hoping one of his three front-men puts their hand up, although to date Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have combined for just 42 attempts on goal this season. Compare this with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (50) and Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (58).