Aston Villa host high flying Southampton on Monday night, with Villa sitting two points above the relegation zone while Southampton are enjoying an incredible start to the season in second place.
Villa turned around a run of six straight defeats with a heard earned point against another of the Barclays Premier League’s in form teams, West Ham, in their last outing, and so will feel confident facing West Ham.
That point was earned by a tight Aston Villa defence, including a superb performance by Brad Guzan. Guzan made five saves in the game, the second highest in the last round of games after Sunderland’s Costel Pantilimon. Overall, Guzan is ranked fourth this season for total saves, with 34 in 11 games.
Nathan Baker was another star performer, making 18 clearances, the third highest in the last gameweek. That took Baker’s tally of clearances so far this season to 71, ranked 17th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Ali Cissokho also put in a shift in defence in earning the clean sheet, winning six tackles and not losing out on a single one attempted. Cissokho’s hard work has epitomised his season, having covered the second most miles among the Aston Villa squad with 67.87 miles on the clock so far this season.
Ashley Westwood is the only player in the squad to have covered more ground this season than Cissokho, with 72.34 miles covered, the 14th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. That feat is made all the more remarkable when you consider that Westwood is the only player in the top 25 for distance covered to have played ten games rather than 11 this season. Averaging 7.23 miles, he’s ranked sixth for average distance covered per game.
Much may have been made of Villa’s struggle to score goals, but fans may be surprised to hear that Weimann’s conversion rate this season is on a par with that of Sergio Aguero. Weimann has averaged 3.67 shots per goal this season – exactly the same as the Argentine hitman, and significantly better than Monday’s rival Graziano Pelle who averages 6.67 shots per goal. The stats show that if Weimann is given shooting opportunities then he is as reliable as any striker in the Barclays Premier League at putting the ball in the back of the net. Weimann is 10/1 to score first with 888sport.com.
Southampton have defied all expectations this season, sitting in second place after eleven games and four points above Manchester City despite losing a number of players over the summer.
Graziano Pelle was known for his free scoring in the Eredivise, and his continued this in the Barclays Premier League. Pelle has scored six goals this season from 40 shots on goal with 26 on target. Averaging 6.67 shots per goal, the Italian striker is not afraid to have a shot when the opportunity arises, though his conversion rate is not as clinical as some strikers.
Pelle’s goals have certainly helped Southampton’s rise up the league, but their defensive qualities have given him license to get forward. Nathaniel Clyne has won more tackles than any other players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 55. To put that in context, the second ranked player (Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak) has won 46. Pelle is 11/9 to score with 888sport.com.
Incredibly, Southampton have three of the top five players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles won. As well as Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin is ranked third with 43 won and Victor Wanyama fifth with 39.
Schneiderlin is also the engine room of the Southampton team, having covered more ground than any other player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 83.44 miles. Aston Villa shouldn’t expect too much time on the ball against this defensively tough and hard working side.
Interestingly, Southampton only have one player in the top 30 for interceptions (Jose Fonte ranked 8th with 30) showing that Koeman’s side prefer to allow their opponents to receive the pass and then make a tackle, rather than attempt an interception and risk being caught out of place.