Sunderland vs Norwich 15:00
Sunderland earned what could well turn out to be a valuable point away to West Ham last weekend as things ended all square at 0-0. Gus Poyet will have been disappointed not to come away with the win though after seeing a number of chances repelled by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The work ethic of the Black Cats is something that has seen a notable improvement since Gus Poyet’s arrival, the Uruguayan managing to motivate his players to strive and fight for each other. Sebastian Larsson epitomised this newfound desire against West Ham last weekend, attempting more tackles than any other player in the last round with 10 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Larsson has been equally as effective moving forward with the ball at his feet, leading the Sunderland squad as he does for passes completed in the opponent’s half with 255 to his name.
Phil Bardsley has appeared reinvigorated following Gus Poyet’s arrival after a turbulent time under Paulo Di Canio. He’s racked up some impressive numbers this season and has the best defensive success rate of any Sunderland player, winning a superb 82.9% of his 35 attempted challenges this season.
Captain John O’Shea has been turning in some leader’s performances of late, staking his claim to retain the armband long-term under Poyet. He’s highly committed and has made more blocks than any other Sunderland player with 13.
Another Gary Hooper strike helped Norwich secure a point in their 1-1 draw with Swansea last time out. Hooper has finally started to find some of his best form, and his quite brilliant volley will have done his international hopes no harm at all.
Hooper now has some of the strongest statistics in front of goal of any Norwich player, establishing a shot accuracy rate of 69.2% from 13 attempts.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy continues to be one of the most active stoppers in the league this season. Chris Hughton will be hoping for an increase in the level of Ruddy’s protection which has seen him have to make 59 saves so far this term, a figure which places him second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Leroy Fer has been an excellent acquisition for the Norwich midfield, providing plenty of threat going forward to complement his strong defensive work. He racked up the joint-second highest number of fouls during the last round with 4, so he’ll have to watch he doesn’t attract the attention of the officials to much this weekend.
Nathan Redmond has been highly touted this season for ability to strike fear into opposition defences with his attacking style and speed down the flanks. However he clearly has plenty of strings to his bow though, completing a very solid 65.7% of his 35 attempted tackles this term.