Southampton v Liverpool: PPI Preview

Sunday 22nd February

Southampton vs Liverpool 16:15

In arguably the standout game of this weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures, Southampton host fellow Champions League-hopefuls Liverpool in a clash that could be billed as a ‘six-pointer’.

Southampton were unlucky to only come out with a point in their last fixture against West Ham. They were knocking on the door all game, as they dominated possession (67%) and also registered an impressive 21 shots. Midfielder Steven Davis was central to their attacking threat, covering every blade of grass in a buccaneering performance. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he covered an impressive 11.1km against the Hammers, more than any other player on the pitch, with Morgan Amalfitano (10.9km) his closest rival. You can find Davis at 17/2 with 888sport.com to score at any time on Sunday.

Pundits and fans alike bemoaned the loss of midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to injury early in January, as the Frenchman has been integral to the Saints’ impressive campaign. However, to just sing the praises of the Frenchman would be doing a disservice to fellow central midfielder Victor Wanyama, who has certainly played his part in helping to boss the centre of the park. The combative midfielder produced another all-action performance against the Hammers, completing 41 passes in the opposition half and winning every challenge that he attempted.

It was perhaps a sign of Southampton’s dominance against the Hammers that they could afford to push their defenders higher up the pitch to help orchestrate their attacks. In Nathaniel Clyne (27), Jose Fonte (21) and Maya Yoshida (29) they had three defenders who completed an impressive number of passes in the opposition half, helping to carve out chances for their teammates.

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A last-gasp winner from maverick striker Mario Balotelli handed Liverpool all three points in their crucial fixture against Tottenham in the last round of Premier League fixtures. It was a vital victory for the Reds as it reduced the gap between themselves and the Champions League slots to just four points – a gap that could be cut even further should they emerge victorious at St Mary’s on Sunday.

One player who has caught the eye over recent weeks is talented winger Jordan Ibe. Liverpool chief Brendan Rodgers has always shown a willingness to give youngsters a chance to stake their claim in the first team and, following a successful spell on loan at Derby, Ibe has grasped his opportunity with both hands. Operating in an unfamiliar right-wingback role, the South London-born youngster proved to be a solid ‘out-ball’ for his teammates and was a constant ;thorn in Southampton’s side. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index demonstrates that he made a total of 27 attacking contributions (based on passes in the opposition half, dribbles completed, crosses completed and shots on target). This was nine more than his closest teammate. If you think that Ibe’s recent good form could translate into goals, head over to 888sport.com who have the winger at 9/1 to score the first goal of the game.

In Vice-Captain Jordan Henderson, Liverpool fans know that regardless of level of performance, they have a player who is guaranteed to run himself into the ground. Once again, Henderson produced a lung-busting display, covering 11km – which was more than any of his teammates. Time and time again this season, Henderson has demonstrated his outstanding level of fitness, something that can be shown by the fact he has covered 260.7km this term, again comfortably the most in the Liverpool squad.

Daniel Sturridge may not have scored against Spurs, but Liverpool fans will be delighted that he’s back on the pitch as he poses such a big goal threat. The England international has never been shy to take a pop at goal, which is demonstrated by the fact that he took four shots against Spurs – which was the second most of any player in the last round of Premier League fixtures.  It was a sign that Sturridge is picking up where he left off as although his season has been blighted by injury, the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has averaged a shot on goal every 22 minutes that he has been on the pitch. This is a better rate than any other Liverpool player and suggests that it won’t be too long until the goals go flying in again.

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Data supplied by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Select and manage your own team of stars at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/ or with FIFA Ultimate team.

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