Aston Villa vs Arsenal
A morale-boosting victory away at Sunderland moved Villa six points clear of the relegation places, cementing their place in the middle of the table, and they host in-form Arsenal on Monday.
Christian Benteke’s goalscoring woes continued against the Black Cats, with the striker failing to find the back of the net again. He did, however, impress in other areas of the pitch, with his passing in particular a joy to behold. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that completed a total of 21 passes in the opposition half – more than any other in the Villa team. Benteke is an industry best 21/10 with 888sport.com to score the first goal on Monday.
Ashley Westwood completed another 90 minutes against the Black Cats, underlining his status as an integral member of the Villa team. The former Sheffield United man mas completed 1507 minutes this season, which is more than any other player in the Villa squad.
The injury of Libor Kozak will be a bitter blow to Paul Lambert’s men, as the tall striker has made a solid start to life at Aston Villa. Despite Lambert favouring Christian Benteke over the Czech Republican, Kozak has still managed to score four goals, which is unsurprising considering his excellent shooting record (he’s hit the target with 78% of his efforts).
Marc Albrighton has impressed since returning from a loan spell at Wigan, with his his passing being a particular highlight. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he has completed a pass in the opposition half at a rate of a pass every 4 minutes.
Arsenal will be hoping that the loss of winger Theo Walcott doesn’t stop the momentum that they’ve built up over the last few weeks.
Two goals in the last 3 minutes guided Arsenal to a 2-0 victory over Cardiff, but truth be told, this did not reflect Arsenal’s level of dominance. Walcott, in particular, was a constant menace as he took a total of 8 shots – the most in the league.
Walcott’s absence in the forthcoming months will most definitely be felt by the Arsenal team, as over recent weeks he has returned to sparkling form. This is probably clearest through the fact that he has made 10 goalscoring contributions (based on goals and assists), in only 13 appearances.
Arsene Wenger’s plethora of quality midfielders has meant that he has the option to rotate players such as Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere. Mikel Arteta was given one of the coveted central midfield berths against Cardiff, and his excellent passing ability was on show all afternoon. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he completed a pass in Cardiff’s half every 1.6 minutes.
Who to start in the ‘number 10’ role must be a constant dilemma for Arsene Wenger, with talented players such as Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere eager to play there. Santi Cazorla started there against the Bluebirds and was impressive, making a total of 58 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, crosses, dribbles and shots on target).