Aston Villa v Southampton, Saturday 15:00
– Aston Villa stemmed a tide of poor results against Swansea last week in a 2-2 draw, but will have left south Wales disappointed not to have claimed all three points after conceding a late equalizer. Villa’s strikers look to be finding their feet again, with Benteke and Weimann netting once each for Paul Lambert’s side, looking lively throughout.
– Midfield talent Barry Bannan looks to be maturing at Villa Park this season. He leads the Villa squad for passes completed inside the opponent’s half with 276, evidence that he is willing and able to shoulder much of the creative and tactical responsibility in the middle of the park.
– Ashley Westwood is catching the eye of many a pundit and opinion maker thanks to some of his performances in the earlier part of the season, not least for his defensive contributions. He’s racked up an 80% tackles success rate from 25 challenges and has only given away 5 fouls along the way.
– Such has been Brad Guzan’s form of late, he’s even been able to keep the great Shay Given from making the Aston Villa starting line-up and according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s had plenty of opportunities to show off his skills. He’s ranked as the second busiest keeper in the league, having made 115 saves, one every 15.9 minutes.
– Paul Lambert will be looking for a some improved defensive displays from all-action midfielder Karim El Ahmadi in this next stage of the season. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s conceded more fouls that any other Villa player, with 29, and only has a 40% tackles success rate from 48 attempts.
– Belgian striker Christian Benteke may have struggled to find the net in his last few outings but he remains Aston Villa’s biggest threat on goal this season. He’s had a squad-high total of 58 attempts on goal, 58& of which have been on target.
– Southampton will have been similarly disappointed not to have claimed a much-needed three points after their 1-1 draw with Arsenal. Nigel Adkin’s side were in great form and outplayed their more lauded opponent’s for much of the game. It was a result, and a performance, to give them confidence against an Aston Villa side who have admittedly struggled against some of the free-flowing sides in the Premier League in recent weeks.
– Southampton will do well to fend off the inevitable wave of interest in their teenage prodigy Luke Shaw come the summer transfer window. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the young left-back has notched up 108 defensive contributions and has an 85% tackle success rate from 27 challenges.
– Steven Davis managed to pip perennial hardest-worker Morgan Schneiderlin to the title of Southampton’s hardest worker against Arsenal last week. He pushed for 7.09 miles, just 0.04 than his French teammate.
– Jason Puncheon is quietly stabling a reputation as one of the most consistent performers at Southampton with his recent form. He’s made a combined 38 crosses and assists this season, along with 5 assists.
– His midfield partner Adam Lallana continues to shoulder much of the responsibility for making Southampton tick though, having successfully completed 339 passes in the opponent’s half according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.