Manchester Utd vs Crystal Palace, Saturday 12:45
– Following the international break, David Moyes has more to worry about then just Wayne Rooney’s head injury. After an impressive start against Swansea, Moyes’ men have failed to win their next two games, and they host a Crystal Palace side buoyed by their victory against Sunderland. The Red Devils should be wary of defender Joel Ward. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he’s had wingers in his back pocket all season, completing 84% of his tackles.
– Ward’s efforts have been aided by the contribution of his defensive partner Damien Delaney. He’s made more clearances than any of his teammates, booting the ball away 31 times.
– Maintaining possession will be paramount for the Eagles as they look to topple the Champions, and much of the responsibility for doing so will rest on the shoulders of Kagisho Dikgacoi.He’s made more passes than any other Palace player with 63, averaging a pass every 4.3 minutes.
– It is often said that it is a momentous step up from the Championship to the Premier League, but Mile Jedinak has taken to the top flight like a duck to water. He’s made 61 offensive contributions, (passes, crosses, dribbles and shots), according to the EA Sports Player Performance Index.
– Robin Van Persie topped the goalscoring charts during the last campaign, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Palace will have to be wary of the Dutchman as he’s taken 9 shots so far this season, level second in the league.
– Michael Carrick’s stock has risen over the past couple of seasons, with his ability to retain possession becoming increasingly evident. The EA SPORTS Player Performance demonstrates exactly why this view has developed, as he has made 100 passes in the opposition half during the course of the first three league games.
– Interestingly, Tom Cleverley is the only United player who is level with Carrick, as he too has completed 100 passes. It was suggested that Roy Hodgson overlooked the English youngster as he conceded possession too easily, but on the basis of these statistics Hodgson’s decision may have been unwarranted.
– With Iker Casilles finding himself on the bench for Real Madrid it has been suggested that Spain may have to look elsewhere for a new number 1. Look no further than David De Gea, The twenty-two year old has made 13 saves so far this season, the second most in the league.
– The blame for David De Gea’s exposure to shots from the opposition can’t be blamed on Michael Carrick. The midfielder may be renowned for his passing exploits, but he has also made 14 interceptions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index – more than anyone else in the league.
– Antonio Valencia may have lost the coveted number 7 shirt at Old Trafford this year, but the comparisons to Christiano Ronaldo shouldn’t completely disappear. He’s completed 5 dribbles so far this season, more than any of his teammates.