Manchester United vs Liverpool
Compared to last season, the tables have most definitely turned in this hotly anticipated battle between two of the North West biggest clubs. The Red Devils won the championship at a canter last season, but under manager David Moyes, they are currently languishing in 6th. Liverpool, on the other hand, are fighting to win their first ever Premier League title.
The Red Devils head into the match following a morale boosting victory over strugglers West Brom, with three goals from three different Englishmen – Rooney, Welbeck and Jones. Central to Manchester United’s offensive effort was Spanish playmaker Juan Mata, who produced arguably his best performance since his arrival at Old Trafford. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Mata completed 35 passes in the opposition half, which was the most in the Manchester United squad, and the second most in the league.
Similarly, Michael Carrick showcased his excellent array of passing, as he bossed the centre of the park. The England international completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.8 minutes on Saturday.
Another player who performed excellently on Saturday was Brazilian right back Rafael. The Da Silva twin was been one of United’s biggest sufferers this season, as he has been unable to meet his superb heights of last term. On Saturday, however, he produced an incredibly competent defensive display which David Moyes will hope is a sign of things to come. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that the Brazilian won 7 tackles, which was more than any other player in the league.
The return of Darren Fletcher has been a welcome boost for manager David Moyes, as the Scottish captain has recently stepped up his return from illness. A regular for former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Fletcher has made 6 appearances under David Moyes and in this time he has shown his natural eye for a pass. The Scotsman has managed to complete a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.1 minutes.
Liverpool enter this game refreshed after a two-week break from action, a rest that Brendan Rodgers will hope will provide his squad with extra energy as we approach the business end of the season.
Liverpool will look to Raheem Sterling as they seek to emerge triumphant from their quest at Fortress Old Trafford. The England youngster has had a stunning second half to the year, establishing himself as integral to Liverpool’s hopes as teammates Suarez and Sturridge. His importance is evident in his dribbling statistics, as the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has completed a total of 57 dribbles this term. This is the second most in the Liverpool squad and the sixth most in the league.
Another young Englishman who’s had a barnstorming year is former Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson. Liverpool’s number 14 has come on leaps and bounds this term, and has established himself as a fundamental part of Brendan Rodgers’ team. This is, in part, a result of his excellent work rate but also his outstanding passing ability. So far this season, he has completed 759 passes in the opposition half – the most in the Liverpool squad.
There was a period last summer when it looked as though Martin Skrtel would be heading out of Anfield, as the Slovakian had lost his place in Liverpool’s first XI. The former Zenit man, however, has enjoyed a remarkable campaign and is arguably the first name on the Liverpool team sheet. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Skrtel has made a total of 410 defensive contributions this term (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won), which is more than any other Liverpool player and the most in the league.
Lucas Leiva is now one of the longest serving players at Anfield, having arrived from Gremio in the summer of 2007. Although initially unpopular amongst the Liverpool faithful, the Brazilian has developed into an outstanding defensive midfielder and his ability to protect the back four has become a key asset in Liverpool’s defensive armoury. This can be demonstrated through the fact that he has made 48 interceptions this term, which is the second most in the Liverpool squad.