Reading v Liverpool, 15:00
– Reading’s hopes of avoiding the drop as they fell to a 0-2 defeat at home to new manager Nigel Adkins’ old side Southampton.
– Captain Jobi McAnuff may well be the man Nigel Adkins’ side turns to help them get something out an uphill task this weekend. McAnuff has been leading from the front this campaign, delivering a squad-high 66 crosses and 8 assists, as well as chipping in with 111 defensive contributions at the other end of the pitch. His box-to-box style will be crucial for the Royals against a talented Liverpool midfield.
– Whilst many around him have been failing to put in a defensive shift this season, the same cannot be said of Mikele Leigertwood and he will need to be on top of his game to deal with the likes of Luis Suarez and Phillippe Coutinho. The midfielder has attempted 115 tackles this season, at a success rate of 63.5%, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Despite repeatedly starting games on the bench, super-sub Adam Le Fondre has been consistently coming to Reading’s rescue this season and Nigel Adkins may well see fit to use him against a strong Liverpool side. The striker has had an effort on goal once every 35.2 minutes, the best average in the Royals squad and his ability to carve out a chance or two could be vital this weekend.
– An excellent defensive display from West Ham saw them shut out Liverpool last weekend in a 0-0 draw which damaged the Reds’ hopes of European football next season.
– Liverpool’s talisman Luis Suarez continues to rack up the impressive statistics this season and he will be looking to test what has been a shaky Reading defence this season. His movement and pace has seen him have a shot on goal on average once every 18.9 minutes to complement a shot accuracy rate of 59.6% from 156 attempts.
– Brazilian midfielder Lucas this week signed a new long-term deal to keep on Merseyside for the next stage of his career. The Reds will be hoping he can overcome the niggling injuries that have held him back recently given his ability to dictate the pace and possession of a game when fully fit. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Lucas has completed a pass on average once every 4.45 minutes this season and is also Liverpool’s most frequent tackler with 94 attempted challenges.
– Fellow Brazilian Phillippe Coutinho may well mature into the perfect foil for Lucas’ ability to read the game and control possession, the young attacker already showing signs of possessing the talent to unlock Premier League defences. Despite his small stature and diminutive frame, Coutinho has already managed to adapt to the physical defences of the Premier League, compiling a 73.3% shot accuracy rate from 15 attempts. This means a shot on target once every 43.7 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.