Sunderland v Stoke 20:00
– After back to back wins against Newcastle and Everton Paolo di Canio’s reign as Sunderland manager was brought back down to earth after a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Villa.
– Danny Rose had equalized for Sunderland before Villa ran riot in the second half. That was Rose’s first goal of the season, in a year in which he has excelled in the defensive aspects of his role. Rose has won 65.5% of the 82 tackles he has attempted this season.
– Rose has now topped 200 defensive contributions overall, stepping in on opposition attacks 208 times in total this season, including 127 interceptions (enough to put him in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s top 20 for this discipline).
– The worrying aspect for Sunderland fans for the Villa game is that but for the heroics of Simon Mignolet it could have been worse. Mignolet made 10 saves in that game, the most by any goalkeeper in the last round of games.
– Stoke seem to have done enough now to ensure another season of Premier League football, with survival once again built on organization and an impressive defensive record.
– Sixteen of Stoke’s 35 Premier League games this season have involved one or fewer goals, and their last outing was true to that form with Charlie Adam the only goalscorer in a 1-0 win over Norwich.
– Adam’s goal was his third of the season, although he has also contributed four assists, meaning he has had a hand in 22.5% of Stoke’s 31 goals this season.
– Stoke will need to build on their rock solid defence with a more prolific goalscoring option next season. Their top goalscorer Jonathan Walters scored seven goals this season. Only two clubs have a top goalscorer with a lower tally – Norwich (Holt, 5) and QPR (Taraabt, 5).
– Stoke’s focus on defending even from the front is clear when you consider that Walters and Peter Crouch are ranked 3rd and 4th among the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s strikers for tackles attempted, with 74 and 72 respectively, although Crouch won just 11 of his 72 attempted tackles.