Crystal Palace vs Fulham
– Crystal Palace could not find the performance necessary to halt a very strong Liverpool outfit during the last round, as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Despite Dwight Gayle grabbing a second-half consolation goal Palace were unable to contain a Liverpool side full of attacking intent and bolstered by Luis Suarez on his return to Anfield.
– Jason Puncheon has been a smart acquisition for Palace following his arrival on loan from Southampton. So far this season he’s racked up 113 successful passes in the opponent’s half, the highest total of any Palace player.
– He’s also been Palace’s most effective attacker, compiling a squad-leading total of 18 attacking contributions (assists, crosses, dribbles, shots on goal).
– Mile Jedinak was once again the defensive stalwart for Palace last weekend, as he has been for much of the season to this point. Only Aaron Ramsey has attempted more tackles that the Australian this season (43) and even he cannot match Jedinak’s impressive success rate of 74.4%.
– However, even Jedinak cannot compete with Danny Gabbidon’s physical commitment to the cause, leading the Hammers squad as he does for blocks with 10 which also places him second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– A vital goal from Darren Bent secured all three points for Fulham and relieved the pressure on embattled manager Martin Jol, as they produced a 1-0 home win over Stoke. Fulham fans will be hoping that this is the turning of the tide and will be looking for Jol’s men to capitalize on their newfound momentum against Palace this weekend.
– Adel Taarabt continues to impress when give the chance this season, boasting the best accuracy rate in front of goal of any Fulham player this season with 80% of his 5 attempts on goal testing the opposition goalkeeper.
– Martin Jol will be hoping that last weekend’s clean sheet will be the first of many to come, especially with David Stockdale currently sitting as the third busiest ‘keeper in the league with 27 saves according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Captain Bred Hangleand continues to lead from the front in defence this season, the giant centre-half racking up a squad-leading 69 defensive contributions. He will looking to improve his current tackle success rate though, 44.4% from 9 attempted challenges representing far too low a rate for a defender of his quality.
– The goals have not flowed as easily as Martin Jol would have hoped at the beginning of this season, but his players must start getting more attempts on goal away if this is to improve. So far no Fulham player has broken into double-figures for total attempts on goal according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.