Stoke City vs. Fulham (15:00)
Stoke City’s current form (one win in six) is hardly inspiring, and they remain one of only five Premier League sides yet to win away from home. At the Brittania Stadium, it’s a different story however- only Manchester City, Everton and Stoke are yet to lose at home, and the Potters will be looking to protect that record against Fulham:
– The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index doesn’t lie, and shows Stoke’s Asmir Begovic to be number one among the number ones. Having played the full 90 minutes in every game so far, the Bosnian has saved 85.1% of the shots on target he’s faced- a reason to be cheerful for Stoke fans heading into the weekend, with the likes of Joe Hart currently on 76.2%.
– Stoke could have got more out of their draw at Upton Park on Monday had it been for better first-half finishing. The players’ work rate was superb though, with 66.44 miles being covered, this was the second biggest total of any team during last week’s Premier League games, and bodes particularly well ahead of a clash against the team that recorded the second smallest figure in the same round of fixtures. This was the second highest total posted by Stoke all season, after their 66.68 miles against Man Utd
Off the back of a disappointing loss at home to Sunderland last week, Fulham will be looking to their leaky defence to step up to the plate this weekend. Having conceded eleven times in their last four games, a clean sheet will be more than welcome for the Cottagers in preparation for a tough fixture run against Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle in the coming weeks:
– Despite conceding three goals to Sunderland in midweek, Mark Schwarzer remains one of the league’s top performing keepers. He’s made more saves than any other keeper with 72 this season, and only trails Petr Cech for the percentage of shots on target he’s kept out.
– Dimitar Berbatov may be the man to win the points for Fulham. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index places the Bulgarian as the second best away performer in the whole league this season- with an average performance score of 27 on the road, the Bulgarian trails only Juan Mata’s 30.
– Berbatov is Fulham’s top goal scorer and has five goals this season, having had 25 shots at goal with 14 on target.
– Berbatov’s goals will be even more important after Bryan Ruiz suffered an injury in the game against Sunderland. Mladen Petric replaced Ruiz and scored Fulham’s goal. Petric’s scoring return has been impressive this season with four goals from 375 minutes on the pitch, a return of a goal every 93 minutes 45 seconds. That’s behind only recognized super subs Edin Dzeko and Javier Henandez in the minutes per goal rankings
– Petric has had a similarly impressive shooting accuracy this season getting 80% of his 15 shots at goal on target, suggesting that the summer signing may shine in Ruiz’s absence