Stoke vs Aston Villa
Stoke host Aston Villa in a game that, despite the season still being in its preliminary stages, can be billed as a ‘mid-table clash’.
Peter Crouch may be something of a giant, but he has surprisingly quick feet and good passing ability for ‘a big man’. This ability to spray the ball about was evident on Saturday as he managed to complete an impressive 27 passes in the opposition half – the third most of any striker.
Ryan Shawcross must be in with an outside chance of going to Brazil next year, as there aren’t many centre halfs around who have been as consistent as the Stoke skipper over the last year or two. The former Manchester United man was in fine form again on Saturday making a total of 15 clearances – the most in the league. Shawcross has also managed to make an outstanding 22 blocks this term, 16 more than any of his teammates.
By examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it isn’t hard to see why Stoke have struggled for goals this term. Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters, two key strikers for Stoke, have only managed to score every 8 and 9 shots respectively. It is a surprising statistic for such reliable goalscorers, and a statistic that you’d expect to change over the Christmas period.
A lack of goals should take nothing away from Crouch’s overall offensive contribution. The EA SPORTS Player Performance index highlights that he has made 5 goalscoring contributions (based on goals and assists), which is more than any other Stoke player.
Aston Villa travel to the Britannia looking for an improvement on their performance on Sunday.
One of the rare bright sparks for Paul Lambert’s men was winger Marc Albrighton. Fresh from his loan spell with Wigan, the Villa academy graduate gave Patrice Evra a headache all afternoon, and managed to swing in a total of 5 crosses – the most in the league.
Another promising youngster on the Villa books is central midfielder Ashley Westwood with Paul Lambert tipping him as the future Michael Carrick. By examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, it isn’t hard to see why the Villa manager has predicted bright things for the former Crewe man, as he completed a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.6 minutes.
Christian Benteke’s woes in front of goal have been well documented, but he could definitely make a case for goalkeeping brilliance being at the route of him problems. So far this term, Benteke has hit the target with 50% of his efforts, which although isn’t fantastic, is far from poor, and suggests that it won’t be too long until he’s firing on all cylinders again.
Fabian Delph was a big miss for Villa on Sunday as he was suspended after picking up 5 yellow cards. The Villains could have used his all-round offensive ability, as they struggled for creativity against the Champions. So far this season, Delph has made 306 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, dribbles, crosses and shots).