Swansea City vs. Liverpool, Sunday 13:30
Swansea City are flourishing under new boss Michael Laudrup, and beat Newcastle for the first time in 32 years last Saturday. Tenth place in the table is satisfactory for now, but is very fragile with just three points separating Tottenham in eighth and Norwich in thirteenth- the Swans’ next few games, therefore, could dictate their target for May:
– Miguel Michu will be looking for goals to add to his tally of seven this season, and his goals scored column could be even more healthy if he hit more of his shots on target. With just 50% of his shots having been on target so far (14), he is outside the top 50 most accurate finishers in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– The Swans may be performing well, but are the worst team in the whole league when it comes to discipline. 25 yellow and 2 red cards is a big haul from just twelve games, and they will be keen to avoid picking up suspensions for upcoming matches West Brom and Arsenal to follow Sunday’s test.
– Jonathan de Guzman scored what proved to be the winning goal against Newcastle last week, and perhaps even more impressively covered more distance on the pitch than anyone else on the field. Only Reading’s Jay Tabb bettered the Canadian’s total of 7.02 miles in last weekend’s games, and a repeat performance will be of great use against a hungry Liverpool side.
– During both of the team’s previous two games, de Guzman and Wayne Routledge have been the two fastest men on the pitch, having recorded greater average speeds with the ball in play than anyone else according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. In the last game the pair recorded an average speed of 4.79 miles per hour and 4.65 miles per hour respectively
Liverpool have escaped the early season form that saw them drop perilously close to the Premier League relegation zone, and have put in some solid performances in recent weeks. Manager Brendan Rodgers will be looking for a strong result to follow on from last week’s impressive 3-0 win against Wigan at Anfield:
– Luis Suarez remains the Premier League’s overall top goal scorer but is only fifth in terms of minutes per goal averaging one every 115 minutes and 24 seconds. A worrying thought for his Premier League opponents is that that goals scored tally could be even healthier if Suarez fine tunes his accuracy in front of goal. Suarez’s ten goals have come from 65 efforts at goal with 47.7% on target, and a conversion rate of 6.5 shots per goal. In comparison, his golden boot rival Robin van Persie has 8 goals from just 33 shots at goal, needing just 4.13 shots per goal scored.
– Steven Gerrard will be looking to control the game from midfield as the only man on the pitch ranked in the league’s twenty most successful passers per hour of pitch time. With a current figure of 18.7, the England star should be far more effective than any of Swansea’s players (none of whom are ranked in the top thirty for the same statistic).
– If Liverpool can come away from the Liberty Stadium with a point, they will stretch their unbeaten league run to eight games. Although they haven’t stolen the headlines, Rodgers’ men are on a solid run and are one of only two sides to have avoided a loss since September (Manchester City remain unbeaten throughout the entire season).
– Liverpool must improve their away form, having only won one of five matches on the road this season. Even so, Suarez has performed particularly strongly in these games. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index suggests that frequent hostility from opposing fans doesn’t intimidate the Uruguayan, who holds an average rating of 25 from away performances- this puts him third overall, trailing Juan Mata (30) and Dimitar Berbatov (27)
– Jose Enrique scored Liverpool’s third goal against Wigan with his first of the season. The Spanish full back has impressed defensively this season, winning 86% of tackles so far while also delivering 15 crosses to gain 2 assists.