Manchester Utd vs West Ham 15:00
A brace from Danny Welbeck helped Manchester Utd to a much needed 0-3 win over Aston Villa last time out. This result relieved some, if not all, of the pressure on David Moyes and he will be hoping his side have now reached a turning point in their season after a difficult start to this campaign.
Phil Jones is starting to come into his own this season, as he appears to be on the verge of cementing a permanent berth in the centre of the United defence. His display against Aston Villa will have done his chances no harm as well. He completed the highest number of defensive contributions (clearances, blocks, interceptions, tackles won) in the last round, with 23 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
A potential future partner in the centre of the Utd back four may be Chris Smalling, with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand likely to be rotated more moving forward. Smalling is more than up to the task though, as can be seen from some of his stats this season. He’s compiled a superb 95.2% tackles success rate from 21 attempted challenges.
It hasn’t taken Adnan Januzaj to feel at home in the Utd first team, the elusive forward quick to showcase his talents on one of Europe’s biggest stages. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he is the youngest player to have surpassed the 20-barrier for attacking contributions (shots on goal, assists, dribbles, crosses) this season.
Michael Carrick remains the conduit in the midfield of the Utd team this season, providing some much needed stability while David Moyes attempts to find his best combinations. He’s completed more passes in the opponent’s half than any other Utd player with 402.
In a frustrating match for the Hammers’ fans, West Ham played out a 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland last weekend. Sam Allardyce commented after the game that he was pleased with his side’s defensive record so far this season but will no doubt be hoping for an upturn in fortunes in front of goal.
It’s easy to see why West Ham are keen to keep hold of Mohamed Diame in the upcoming transfer windows, with the dynamic midfielder key to breaking up the flow of opposition sides this term. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, of the players in the top 40 for total tackles attempted this season, he has the highest success rate with 97% from 54 challenges.
It’s not just in defence that Diame has been excelling either, he’s been equally as influential going forward as well. The powerful Senegalese international contributed the joint second highest number of defensive contributions (assists, dribbles, crosses, shots on goal) of any player in the last round, with 11 against Sunderland.
James Collins is another Hammer who has been in similarly resolute form, placing joint second in the league for blocks with 22 so far this season.
Injury problems have compounded West Ham’s troubles in front of goal this season, with Andy Carroll and now Stewart Downing both sidelined. Given Carroll’s aerial ability and Downing’s crossing accuracy you’d have to think their goal threat will drastically increase upon their return. Downing in fact leads the league for crosses this season with 21 to his name.