Arsenal v Everton
Van Persie – Going into any Arsenal match it is impossible not to consider the performance by Robin van Persie – not only this season but in the 2011 year.
He has scored 32 goals in the Premier League in 2011 which is 13 more than the next highest total recorded by Wayne Rooney.
In club and country play he has scored 45 goals in a little over 50 games.
Of course the van Persie narrative is not complete without a reference to his past injury problems – if he can stay fit it will the first season he has started in more than 30 league games for Arsenal.
Vermaelen – Given van Persie’s form it has been easy to overlook the difference the return of Thomas Vermaelen has made to Arsenal.
Arsenal are a significantly better side defensively when Thomas Vermaelen plays – decisive, driving – and he is a goal threat at set plays and when he moves forward.
Everton are coming off a 1-0 loss to Stoke and it was a game that saw them fail to record a shot on goal.
They have only gained a single point from a top half team this season.
Tim Cahill has not scored a Premier League goal in 2011 and December 20, 2010 was his last one – against Man City (22 games ago).
Liverpool v QPR
You get the feeling that this Liverpool side (and supporters) relishes shots at what we assume to be their closest competitors but it has been opponents such as QPR that have proved to be real stumbling blocks for Liverpool this season.
Liverpool have dropped nine points against teams currently in the bottom half of the Premier League including home draws against promoted teams Swansea and Norwich.
Luis Suarez is still creating chances but he is struggling to execute – has not scored in the last seven Premier League games.
QPR are almost the mirror image of Liverpool excepting that they are the underdogs.
QPR have picked up more points against top-half sides than teams in the bottom half so far this season.
Journeyman striker Heidar Helguson is making a case to be the surprise packet of the season.
The much travelled 34 year-old Helguson has 6 goals in 7 starts and 2 substitute appearances.
Manchester United v Wolverhampton
I read an article this morning that bore a headline of howling wolves and Sir Alex Ferguson.
The suggestion was that the wolves are circling the manager so it seems very appropriate that Wolves are in fact United’s opponents this Saturday.
Although given United’s Champions League exit Wolves might go to Old Trafford fearing a United backlash.
At some point United will break out of a run of form that has rarely hit the level of mediocre.
The points may have been collected but the performances have been unconvincing.
Here is a selection of stats and facts:
The likely season ending injury to Nemanja Vidic is a body-blow.
Manchester United have conceded just one goal in the six Premier League matches he has started in this season.
With Vidic in the starting eleven United’s winning percentage is 25% greater than when he is not.
With Vidic missing Wolves will look to get ball wide and pump crosses in – something that is a default tactic for them going forward.
Wolves’ success rate with crosses this season is an impressive 28% which is up from 22% last season.
Wolves have specialized in digging holes this season – nearly 2/3 of the goals they have conceded have been in first half and they have only scored 1 goal in the opening 30 minutes of games.
Weird stat of the day – 13 of Wolves 24 goals allowed have come from a left footed shot.
Fantasy Football Update
Vincent Kompany out – Thomas Vermaelen in and made captain. Still in pursuit of Eoin O’Callaghan but he is enjoying a Manchester City type season – except for the money.
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