Arsenal v Manchester United, 16:00
– A Per Mertesacker goal helped Arsenal climb back into third place in the Premier League as they defeated Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
– It’s in games like this that you expect your key competitors to step up to the plate, none more so for Arsenal than Jack Wilshere. The young midfielder has a winning mentality and will be desperate to grab three points against the newly crowned champions. Wilshere’s superb rate of a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 2.5 minutes this season suggests he will have a key role in any Arsenal victory should he take to the field.
– Kieran Gibbs has been in fine form this season, throwing down his marker to become a potential England starter in the very near future. His superb tackle success rate of 71.2% from 66 attempted challenges is a strong sign that he has put his past injury troubles behind him and is ready to kick on for both club and country.
– Striker Olivier Giroud’s red card last weekend and subsequent suspension have opened the door for a potential start through the middle for Theo Walcott, a move which the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index suggests might have come sooner for the England man. Behind Giroud, Walcott has the best minute per shot rate of any player in the Gunners squad at one on average every 30.2 minutes.
– An astonishing first-half hattrick from Robin van Persie secured a 20th league title for Manchester United under the seeming evergreen Sir Alex Ferguson after they swept away Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
– Many Arsenal fans may struggle with the sight of their former hero Van Persie being part of a guard of honour when United come to the Emirate this Sunday. However there can be no doubting that Van Persie has earned this honour as much as any United player, his 24 goals coming from a superb rate of fashioning an attempt on goal on average once every 24.7 minutes this season.
– Michael Carrick has finally been gaining the recognition his consistent performances have long deserved, the England midfielder last weekend smashing through the 1000 successful passes in the opponent’s half barrier (1006), the only United player to do so this season.
– Finally, in a round-up of key players for United this campaign, Jonny Evans has emphatically stepped up to the plate and established himself as an automatic first team starter with his composed performances. Indeed, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he currently has the best tackle success rate in the United squad (73.5% from 34 attempted challenges).