West Ham v Manchester United, 19:45
– A 1-1 draw at Southampton moved West Ham a point closer to safety last weekend and they will be looking to get way they can against champions-elect Man Utd this week to further that cause.
– Matthew Jarvis will be looking for a greater return from his efforts in the final third as we reach the business end of the season. Despite being noted as an effective supplier of the final ball, out of all the players in the top 10 for crosses delivered this season on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index (Jarvis currently 8th with 71) Jarvis has the lowest total of assists with 2.
– If the Hammers do retain their place in the Premier League, players like James Collins will rightly take some of the plaudits. No West Ham player has been more willing to throw themselves into the opposition’s path than Collins, racking up an impressive 30 blocks.
– Man Utd dispatched Stoke with relative ease last weekend to move them ever closer to a 20th league title and they will be looking at this fixture as another that can bring the trophy almost within their grasp.
– Speculation is rife in the tabloids this week that Wayne Rooney may be on his way out of Old Trafford, with PSG seemingly his most likely destination. However Rooney still clearly plays a key role at United, something that will not be lost on Sir Alex Ferguson. Only three strikers have bettered his 599 successful passes in the opponent’s half this season (Suarez, Berbatov and Tevez) and none of them can surpass his average rate of 3.13 minutes per successful pass.
– The debate continues between United fans as to whether Shinji Kagawa will eventually evolve into an irreplaceable member of the squad, but the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index certainly suggests he is well on his way to be coming an excellent Premier League midfielder. His 5 goals is the highest of any United midfielder, coming largely off the back of his solid 75% shot accuracy rate.
– Michael Carrick remains the slick operator who makes the United engine room function, his 944 successful pass in the opponent’s half total standing as evidence of that. However his defensive work now stands almost on par with this, with Carrick currently rated as the second most successful tackler in the United squad behind Rio Ferdinand, having successfully completed 61.2% of his 67 attempted challenges.