Cardiff City vs Newcastle United
– A stunning injury-time strike from Jordon Mutch secured yet another win for Malkay Mackay’s Cardiff, after Steven Caulker powered home a header early in the first half against Fulham. Mackay will be especially pleased with the fact that his side continue to look increasingly comfortable in their Premier League surroundings.
– Steven Caulker’s willingness to throw himself at the ball isn’t limited to the opposition’s box, he has a similar mentality when it comes to the more familiar terrain of his own half. He once again leads the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for blocks with 11.
– Ben Turner was another who was put through his paces in Cardiff’s eventual victory last weekend. He was forced to repeatedly track back and his 12 clearances was the joint highest of anyplayer in the league last weekend.
– Mackay’s side have strung together a series of impressive all-round performances so far this season, all despite having failed to fully hit top form in from of goal. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, no player in the Cardiff squad has a shot accuracy rate of greater than 50%. If Cardiff can marry their evident tactical organization and commitment to some greater composure in front of goal theycould possibly break the top 10 by the end of the season.
– Cardiff certainly possess the players required to compete in the Premier League, particularly in midfield. In Kim Bo-Yyung (102), Peter Whittingham (112) and Guy Medel (102) they have three players who have now broken the 100-barrier for passes completed in the opponent’s half. They are the only one of this season’s three promoted teams to have so far achieved this distinction.
– After appearing to be on the brink of a heavy defeat, Newcastle somehow rallied at the break to keep thescoreline to a respectable 3-2 at Goodison. An increase in desire and urgency will not have placated the Geordie faithful though and they will be expecting a win when Premier League new boys Cardiff travel north this weekend.
– Cheick Tiote’s defensive strength was tested to the limit during a first half where Everton ran riot on Monday evening. The Ivory Coast international committed the joint highest number of fouls of any player in the last round of fixtures according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 4.
– Newcastle’s defensive frailties were exposed at times against Everton but Magpie fans should be encouraged by the quality their back four have displayed at times this season. Two of their four starting defenders on Monday have a tackle success rate of 79% or more(Debuchy and Yanga-Mbiwa) and have combined for a total of just 22 fouls this season. That works out at an average of just one every 91.9 minutes they have collectively been on the pitch this season.
– Despite appearing to lack a cutting edge in the first half against Everton, Newcastle are certainly notdevoid of players with the requisite skill or desire to make a difference in a Premier League match. In Moussa Sissoko and Hatem Ben Arfa they have two players in the top 5 on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for dribbles, with 36 between them.
– Indeed in Ben Arfa, they have a man capable of slicing open any defence with a moment of magic and the Frenchman has certainly not been found wanting in terms of effort this season. He has provided the third-highest number of attacking contributions (crosses, assists, shots on goal, dribbles) of any player in the league with 39. Ben Arfa is an industry best 13/4 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.