Liverpool vs Cardiff 12:45
An inspired performance from stand-in skipper Luis Suarez guided Liverpool to an astounding 5-0 win at White Hart Lane last weekend, and they host Cardiff at the start of the festive fixtures.
Steven Gerrard hailed Suarez as the ‘best player in the world on current form’ following the Reds victory on Sunday, and claimed that the Uruguayan was integral to Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index supports Gerrard’s claims as it shows that Suarez made a total of 5 goal-scoring contributions against Spurs (scoring twice, and assisting 3). Suarez also took more shots than any other player in the league on Sunday, and amazingly, hit the target with every single one of them.
Filling skipper Steven Gerrard’s boots was always going to be a near impossible task for Liverpool’s other central midfielders, but as with all injuries, it provides the perfect platform for another player to showcase their ability and stake a claim for a first team place. Joe Allen was entrusted with Gerrard’s position on Sunday, and with a point to prove after an indifferent start to his Anfield career, Allen produced one of his finest displays in a red shirt. The Welshman excelled defensively, as he won 8 tackles – which was more than any other player in the league.
Another player who will be expected to up his game following the skipper’s injury is Phillippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been in fine form this term, but in Gerrard’s absence, the creative burden will rest firmly on his shoulders. When examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it appears that Coutinho has taken to this task with consummate ease, as he completed a pass in Spurs’ half at an incredible rate of a pass every 3.6 minutes.
Liverpool’s performance was so complete on Sunday, that Simon Mignolet was hardly forced into making a save – making only 1 all afternoon. This would have been a nice break for Mignolet as he’s been in the thick of it this term making a total of 57 saves, the fourth most in the league and more than any other top 4 ‘keeper.
Who to start at centre half has been an issue for Brendan Rodgers this term, with four top quality players to choose from. Statistically this season, however, Martin Skrtel has been the most impressive, making a total of 193 defensive contributions (based on clearances, interceptions, blocks and tackles won). This is more than any other player in the Liverpool squad.
Cardiff’s 1-0 victory over West Brom moved them four points clear of the relegation places, a position they will look to consolidate over the forthcoming months.
Hardman Gary Medel has impressed for Cardiff all term, and his outstanding tackling ability was on show again against West Brom. Sitting in front of the back four, he managed to snuffle out any attacks by winning an impressive 75% of his attempted challenges. The Chilean also made 3 interceptions against the Baggies – the most in the Cardiff team.
Midfield partner Jordan Mutch has been equally impressive this term, with his subtle creativity complimenting Medel’s swashbuckling style perfectly. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights precisely how effective Mutch was on Saturday, as he made a total of 21 attacking contributions (based on crosses, passes in the opposition half, dribbles and shots). This was the most in the Cardiff lineup, and cements his status as an outside bet for the World Cup next year.
Peter Odemwingie has only featured in 651 minutes for Cardiff this term, but in this short space of time he has demonstrated his willingness to take shots at goal. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has taken a shot every 54 minutes this term, which is a better rate than any other Cardiff player.
Peter Whittingham scored the winner on Saturday to double his goalscoring tally for the season. Whittingham has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and it’s great to see that he’s finding his feet in the top tier, after showing so much promise with Aston Villa when he was a youngster. In addition to being one of only three outfield players in the Cardiff team to have featured in every minute for Cardiff this season, he has also made the most goal-scoring contributions (based on goals and assists) with 5.