Saints v Reading

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Southampton welcome the Royals to St. Mary’s this afternoon, looking to notch up their fourth win of the season. The Saints are currently sat in the bottom three, but if they win and other results go in their favour, they could jump as high as 15th. Southampton head in to today’s game with doubts over star signing Gaston Ramirez, who travelled to Uruguay and back this week, due to a family bereavement. It is thought he has declared himself available for the game, but boss Nigel Adkins will have to take in to account the players mental and physical state ahead of the match. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is included in the squad, but starts on the bench.

Reading found themselves on the wrong end of a seven goal thriller against Manchester United last weekend. Sat one place behind the Saints and three points adrift, the Royals need to win to ensure the gap between them and the teams above does not grow wider.

Here’s a look at the best performing players from each team, with stats provided by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index:

Southampton

  • Southampton fell to another defeat against Liverpool on Saturday, as a Daniel Agger goal left them locked in the league’s bottom three. There was some positives for Nigel Adkins’ side to take away though, not least Rickie Lambert’s continuing emergence as a striker of Premier League quality.
  • Lambert has waited a long time for his shot in the Premiership and all the evidence points towards a steely resolve to grasp it with both hands. He’s notched up 6 goals this season and has certainly backed himself in front of goal, letting fly with 35 attempts on goal, 49% of which have been on target according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
  • Young defender Nathaniel Clyne has been a massive part of the defensive efforts for the Saints this season. The 23 year old is the most successful tackler in the Saints’ squad, having coming out on top in 37 challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
  • Luke Shaw has been billed by many in the know as one of the rising stars of the game and despite playing only 434 minutes this season, has already shown himself more than capable of holding his own at this level. The 17 year old has been successful with 79% of his 14 challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
  • It would be difficult to understate the importance of Adam Lallana to the Southampton cause at present. The dynamic midfielder has had 17 on targets attempts on goal, to sit alongside his 332 successful passes in the opponent’s half and 32 crosses.
  • Portuguese defender Jose Fonte continues to display an incredible knack for reading the game, having compiled a remarkable 95 interceptions this season. His intuition and tactical awareness sees him placed fifth on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Reading

  • Reading played out a 7-goal thriller as they unluckily went down 3-4 at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. The Royals will have been desperately disappointed not to emerge with at least a point but there were plenty of reasons for Brian McDermott to be positive as he looks towards the rest of their season.
  • Reading defender Mikele Leigertwood will be looking to surpass his defensive rival Nathaniel Clyne in the defensive stats when the Royals clash with Southampton. The midfielder has made 36 successful tackles this season, just one behind Clyne according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
  • Adam Le Fondre has been pressing hard for a regular run in the team with his limited time on the pitch this season. He’s scored 4 times, including last time out against Man Utd, where he was also his team third hardest runner with 6.41 miles.
  • The combative Jay Tabb has been carrying his Reading team forward with some of his performances and work ethic this year. Against Man Utd he achieved the distinction of being both his side’s hardest runner, with a mammoth 7.33 miles, as well as their quickest player, having been clocked at 19.71mph by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
  • Keeping Kaspar Gorkss fit should be a key priority for Reading as we move towards 2013 given his contribution to the Royal’s defence this season. The Latvian defender has been successful with 63% of his 38 challenges and has also chipped in with a very impressive 84 interceptions.