Stoke v Manchester United, 14:05
– A second half Michael Kightly goal was not enough to prevent Stoke falling to another disappointing defeat, 1-3 at the hands of Aston Villa last weekend.
– Stoke have been enduring a hard run of form at late and the champions-elect will no doubt be testing their defence again this weekend. No player is more ready to deal with that challenge than Ryan Shawcross though, the Stoke captain throwing himself in the way of anything that moves this season and sitting second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for blocks with 38 as a result.
– United will likely dominate possession for much of the match this Sunday so getting tight to their most influential passers in the midfield will be key for any chance of success for Stoke. Glenn Whelan may well be key in this regard, having the best tackle success rate of any Potters midfielder, completing 55.5% of his 63 challenges.
– Jonathan Walters has been Tony Pulis’ go-to man this season when it comes to grabbing late winners but his shot accuracy has been somewhat wayward at times. Walters has only mustered a 45.2% shot accuracy rate from 42 attempts so he’ll need to find his shooting boots to beat David de Gea on Sunday.
– Manchester United’s lead at the top of the Premier League was cut to 12 point, as ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City delayed the victory parties at Old Trafford with a 1-2 win.
– Antonio Valencia hinted this week that United were ‘worried’ following their defeat to City on Monday evening, however the Ecuadorian winger doesn’t have much to worry about when it comes to his own performances according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He leads the Utd squad for crosses completed (49) as well as dribbles (18).
– Defender Jonny Evans continues to underline his importance to the current Utd side with some highly mature performances this season. It is this new-found level of composure that has seen his tackle success rate rocket, the Northern Irishman being successful with an excellent 71.8% of his 32 challenges this season.
– By his own lofty standards, Robin van Persie has been enduring something of a dry spell in recent weeks. However his statistics suggest that more goals to add to his current tally of 19 won’t be far off, the Dutchman so far having a shot on goal on average once every 24.8 minutes.