Southampton v Arsenal 19:45
Southampton were pegged back from 2-0 up by a resurgent Sunderland side in their last game, with goals from Jay Rodriguez and Dejan Lovren cancelled out in a game that ended 2-2.
Jay Rodriguez is enjoying a fine season, with his first England caps just reward for nine goals so far in the Premier League. As important as his goals have been
Rodriguez’s efforts to win the ball back from the front. Rodriguez has attempted 44 tackles, winning 61.36%. Only Marouane Chamakh has attempted more amongst the Premier League’s forwards.
Adam Lallana has also forced his way into the England squad this season. With much discussion over the need to have players comfortable on the ball, Lallana has proved himself more than capable. Lallana is ranked 21st in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes in the opposition half (499), 11th for dribbles (38) and 16th for crosses (14).
Lovren has impressed in defence for Southampton this season, as well as grabbing two goals the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows he has won 41 out of 51 attempted tackles, a fantastic 80.3%.
Arsenal remain top of the Premier League, one point ahead of Manchester City, after a brace from Santi Cazorla helped them beat Fulham 2-0 in their last outing.
Arsenal’s dominance against Fulham was such that the top four players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed in the opposition half in the last round of games were all Arsenal players. Jack Wilshere was the pick of the midfield, completing 76 passes, followed by Santi Cazorla with 74 and Mesut Ozil with 73 and Mathieu Flamini with 51. The most passes completed in the last round of games by a non Arsenal player in the last round was Yaya Toure with 46.
Arsenal may have bossed the game, but they still needed an assured display from their defence to ensure that any counter-attacks from the Cottagers were stemmed. In Fulham’s rare forages forward, they came up against the wall that was Laurent Koscielney who made a total of 18 defensive contributions (based on blocks, interceptions, clearances and tackles won). This was the most in the Arsenal squad and the sixth most in the league.
Arsenal’s goal scoring midfield will be a concern for Southampton. Aaron Ramsey has a shots on target rating of 71% this season, the highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index among players to have had 25 shots or more.
Critics who question Arsenal’s title credentials often cite the lack of cover for striker Olivier Giroud as the primary weakness in Arsenal’s squad. Arsene Wenger, however, has always stated that he feels his squad is strong enough to handle any injury problems that come his way, and in striker Lukas Podolski, he has a frontman who has a track record of being able to hit the back of the net. The German has scored an amazing 44 international goals and has shown his ruthlessness in front of goal this campaign too, hitting the target with 83% of his efforts.