Sunderland vs Manchester City, Sunday 14:05
The Black Cats welcome a Manchester City side who have scored 12 goals in their last 2 games.
Sunderland were reduced to 9 men in their defeat to Hull, meaning that the other players had to up their workrate even more to remain competitive. Sebastien Larsson certainly managed to do this, as he completed all 6 of his attempted tackles at the weekend. Only Mikel Arteta managed to complete more.
With only 9 men on the field in the second half, Sunderland were always going to suffer from an attacking barrage and they have Carlos Cuellar and John O’Shea to thank for keeping the Tigers at bay. The pair each made 15 clearances on Saturday, topping the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index clearances table.
Sunderland’s hopes of avoiding the drop will be contingent on the performances of striker Steven Fletcher. The Scottish international has scored goals at every club that he’s played at, and he’s managed to score twice this season despite only making 4 appearances, and only registering 6 shots.
Midfielder Charalampos Mavrias was one of a host of new signings made by former Sunderland manager Paulo Di Canio, and despite a disappointing season so far for the Black Cats, the Greek midfielder has shown his ability to pick a pass. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he has completed a pass in the opposition half every 4.8 minutes. This is an impressive rate for a midfielder who is only 19 years of age.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team enter this fixture on the back of a 5-2 victory in the Champions League, and a 7-0 victory over Norwich in the last round of Premier League fixtures.
The man of the moment for Manchester City is striker Sergio Aguero, who appears to be getting back to his best. Of the players to rival Aaron Ramsey as the player of the season so far, Aguero arguably comes closest, and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights that he has made 15 goalscoring contributions so far this season (based on goals and assists). Ramsey is second behind Aguero, but interestingly has made 4 less contributions.
Manchester City’s victory over Norwich turned into a bit of a whitewash, with the Citizens knocking 7 goals past the East coast side. City’s dominance is best demonstrated by the fact that they boasted the three players who completed the most passes in the opposition half in the last round of fixtures. Samir Nasri, David Silva and Yaya Toure completed 70, 69, and 67 passes in Norwich’s half respectively.
Samir Nasri looks to finally be getting back to top form, and his performance against Norwich was arguably his best of the season so far. In addition to completing a pass in the Canaries half at a rate of a pass every minute, the Frenchman also completed 5 dribbles – the second most in the league.
Pablo Zabaleta has become an integral player for Manchester City since his arrival from Espanyol 5 years ago, and by examining the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, one can see why he has successfully managed to keep Micah Richards out of the team. No other defender in the league has completed as many tackles as Zabaleta’s 39.