Statistical Preview: Manchester United vs Stoke

A last minute equaliser from Adam Lallana denied Manchester United all three points in their fixture last week.

In Manchester United’s early fixtures this season, David Moyes appeared reluctant to separate stalwarts Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand from the heart of his defence. However, he partnered Phil Jones with Jonny Evans on Saturday, and other than the last few minutes, it appeared to work pretty well. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Jonny Evans made the most clearances with 16 clearances, and Phil Jones the second most with 13.

It is an old adage that a strong defence relies on a good goalkeeper behind them, and David de Gea produced a performance on Saturday which demonstrates exactly why Sir Alex Ferguson invested so much money in him. The Spanish shot-stopper made 6 saves against Southampton, with only John Ruddy of Norwich making more.

The signing of Marouane Fellaini produced a mixed reaction from Manchester United fans, with many believing that a creative playmaker was more urgent. As well as hitting the bar on Saturday, the Belgian produced a strong all-round performance that should reassure the sceptics. In addition to making 5 interceptions, the most in the Manchester United squad, the former Everton man showcased his creative ability by completing 25 passes in the opposition half – more than any other Manchester United player.

Nani is a player who certainly polarizes opinion, but what cannot be questioned is his fantastic dribbling ability. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that of the top 20 players who have completed the most dribbles, Nani has played the least minutes. Despite only featuring for 263 of Manchester United’s 720 minutes this season, the Portugese international has compleyed 14 dribbles – more than any other Manchester United player.

Wayne Rooney has continuously expressed his desire to play up-front for both club and country, as he feels that is where he is most effective. Granting his wish, however, would prevent him from utilizing his fantastic range of passing, as so far this term Rooney has completed 176 passes in the opposition half – the second highest number by any striker.

Mark Hughes returns to his former club with a Stoke side who were held to a draw by West Brom last weekend.

A major incentive for Peter Coates when appointing Mark Hughes, was his pledge that he would dramatically alter Stoke’s style play, but one area of continuity has been Hughes’ decision not to change captain, with Ryan Shawcross retaining the armband. Shawcross was in inspirational form on Saturday, making 5 interceptions against West Brom – the third most in the league.

One of the main beneficiaries of Stoke’s alteration in play has been midfielder Steven N’Zonzi. The Frenchman has recently stated that he is happy to stay at Stoke, and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights how important this could be to the future of Mark Hughes’ team. The former Blackburn man has completed a pass in the opposition half at an incredible rate of every 2.6 minutes.

Marko Arnautovic may not have hit the back of the net yet this season, but he has certainly been creating chances for his teammates. The Austrian has swung in 6 crosses this term, which is more than any other striker in the league.

Following the Potters draw to West Brom, Mark Hughes claimed that his team lacks a killer touch, and this is probably most evident in the fact they have only hit the back of the net 4 times this campaign. However, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Charlie Adam shouldn’t shoulder too much of the blame for this. The Scottish midfielder has taken 9 shots this term, hitting the target with an impressive 88.9% of them. 

Mark Hughes will be hoping that his decision to bring Stephen Ireland in on loan will provide his team with slightly more guile and creativity – and so far this season his decision appears to be vindicated. The Irishman has completed a pass in the opposition half at a respectable rate of a pass every  3.4 minutes.