Statistical Preview: Cardiff vs Manchester United

After a morale-boosting victory over Swansea, Cardiff suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. They host Manchester United who look to be coming to grips with David Moyes’ methods.

Kevin Theophile-Catherine’s excellent tackling ability has been evident this term, as he has won an impressive 78% of his 27 tackles. He was perfectly solid again on Saturday, winning 4 of his 6 attempted challenges

However, the real star of the Cardiff’s defence so far this campaign has been centre half Steven Caulker. Caulker has made the sixth most defensive contributions in the league (based on tackles won, blocks, clearances and interceptions), and on Saturday he particularly excelled. No player in the league made as many clearances as Caulker’s 16.

Offensively on Saturday, Peter Whittingham was the lynchpin of Cardiff’s attacks, as he demonstrated his outstanding ability to pick a pass. Whittingham may have been out to prove a point against his former employers, and he certainly made one as he completed an impressive 38 passes in Villa’s half, at an outstanding rate of a pass every 2.4 minutes.

In England’s friendly against Chile, Gary Medel bossed the midfield – putting in a number of bone crunching challenges. His hard-tackling has been evident all season, as, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the Chilean has completed an impressive 70% of his 36 attempted tackles.

David Moyes recorded the biggest victory of his Manchester United career to date in the last round of Premier League fixtures, beating Arsenal 1-0.

Wayne Rooney maintained his impressive form by putting in a man-of-the-match display at Old Trafford. He worked hard for the sake of the team, but also demonstrated his outstanding passing ability. He completed 20 passes in the opposition half – more than any of his teammates.

Chris Smalling has stated that his versatility may be a bonus when it comes to World Cup selection – with his ability to play competently at right back, and centre back a real plus for the team. Smalling’s preferred position is centre half, but if he performs like he did against Arsenal he may find himself filling the number 2 jersey for England come June next year. Smalling was successful in every one of his challenges against Arsenal, and also sat second in the Manchester United table of number of defensive contributions made with 17.       

Another young Englishman in with a good chance of going to Brazil next year is centre half Phil Jones. Another utility player, Jones can operate at right back, centre half, and central midfield., and he played in the latter two positions to great effect against the Gunners. Phil Jones’ tackling ability is widely regarded as his strongest asset, and so far this season, he has demonstrated exactly why this view is held. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that Jones has completed an impressive 86% of his challenges this term.     

Tom Cleverley has certainly had his fair share of critics this season, with many United fans unsure exactly what he brings to the table. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, however, highlights that these sentiments can be considered unfounded, as he has shown his creative flair – completing a pass in the opposition half at an impressive rate of a pass every 2.2 minutes. Cleverley has also been successful in 60% of his challenges this term.