Manchester United vs. West Ham United (19:45)
Back to the Premier League summit after local rivals City drew at the weekend, Manchester United have momentum on their side. Their opponents have also had an impressive season however, and could cause problems if the Red Devils take too long to settle into the game:
– Javier Hernandez remains the league’s best goalscorer in terms of the average time it’s taken him to strike- one every 69 minutes is unmatched by any other forward.
– Robin van Persie didn’t add to his tally of goals against QPR, but still performed well enough to usurp Carlos Tevez as the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index overall player of the season. His current Final Index score of 276 is one point more than Tevez, and well ahead of third-placed Juan Mata on 244.
– The Dutchman’s philosophy is certainly not ‘style over substance’- he covered 6.39 miles at the weekend, more than any other United player for the third consecutive game. Sir Alex Ferguson’s investment in the striker is being rewarded by a fantastic work rate so far.
– United are the only team in the league to have won six of their last seven games, and are on great form. In a staggering nine of their thirteen league matches however, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have fallen behind- they’ve normally recovered well to rally, but could run into problems unless they make things easier for themselves in future.
– Darren Fletcher returned from a long-term absence at the weekend and thankfully seemed back to his workmanlike best on his first start in over a year. He covered 6.29 miles in 90 minutes, more than all but three of his team mates.
West Ham head to Old Trafford just two points away from Everton in fifth-place. Hungry for European football after a long absence, the Hammers may be hard to break down if they can snatch an early lead as so many others have done against United this season:
– Kevin Nolan may be key to the Hammers chances at Old Trafford, and is the league’s most accurate finisher according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. With 70 percent of his 30 shots on target this season, he is matched only by Chelsea’s Fernando Torres.
– Defender James Tomkins has won 93.8 percent of the tackles he’s gone in for, which is more than any other league player- the Red Devils attack will be in for a difficult time if he continues this impressive record.
– Although the Hammers had a tough day against Tottenham last weekend, Andy Carroll’s goal means that they’ve still only failed to score in three matches this season. United have only kept two clean sheets, which further suggests West Ham will be able to get on the score sheet.
– Carroll has split many fans’ opinions this season, but has a solid rate of shooting accuracy. With thirteen on target from twenty attempts (65 percent), he is not far off top scorer Kevin Nolan’s rate of 21 from 30 attempts (70 percent).
– Resolute defending will be key if they strike first, and in Winston Reid the club have the league’s seventh best performing defender so far- the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index gives him a Final Index score of 167, more than other impressive performers Gary Cahill (164) and Ashley Cole (150).