Match preview: Saints v Sunderland
Southampton’s last fixture on the 8th
December saw them grab a 1-0 over fellow strugglers Reading thanks to a second half goal from Jason Puncheon. The Saints created more than enough chances to extend the scoreline even further and Nigel Adkins will be looking for more ruthlessness in front of goal this weekend.
The Black Cats slipped further down the Premier League table last weekend as they were dominated in clinical fashion by league leaders Man Utd. Former United striker Frazier Campbell notched a second half consolation goal but it was never going to be enough against a Utd side poised to challenge for league honours once again.
Here’s a look at the stand-out players from each team, with stats provided by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index and odds from 888sport.com (odds are correct at the time of posting):
- Portuguese defender Jose Fonte will be key to Nigel Adkins’ plans to establish Southampton in the Premier League in the latter half of the season. He’s amassed an incredible 112 interceptions and 27 clearances this season.
- French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has been earning rave reviews for his work ethic this season but he will be looking to remove some of defensive misdemeanors in the second half of the season. He’s currently ranked 4th on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for fouls committed with 33.
- Schneiderlin is 6/1 at 888sport.com to convert his work rate into a goal and score against Sunderland this weekend.
- Teenage sensation Luke Shaw continues to show why some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs are hot on his trail. He’s established a tackle success rate of 85% from 20 challenges and has a foul-to-tackle ratio of only one every 10 attempts.
- Young defender Jack Cork continues to build on his growing reputation on the south coast, turning in another solid performance against Reading last time out. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index recorded him as running for 6.70 miles.
- Last fixture’s goalscorer Jason Puncheon has proven himself equally adept at defending as he is going forward. He has a defensive success rate of 58% as well as providing 17 crosses and 4 assists this season.
- Stephane Sessegnon has been in good form with the ball at his feet this, but his defensive efforts have left something to be desired. He’s only won 50% of his challenges this season, giving away 23 fouls in the process. He’s still an industry-best 10/3 to score this weekend though at 888sport.com.
- James McLean once again topped the distance charts for Sunderland last weekend, racking up a 6.54 mile total according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. This is 4th times he’s worked the hardest in the Sunderland match day squad, giving him a cumulative total of 83.17 miles this season.
- The Northern Irishman has also amassed a quite remarkable set of defensive statistics for a player primarily known for his eagerness to push forward. He has a 64% tackle success rate this season.
- Martin O’Neill may well wonder where his Sunderland side would be had they not brought in Steven Fletcher in the summer. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows he has scored 41% of their 17 goals this season, as well as registering two assists. He’s a fancied choice at 888sport.com to continue this run of form against Southampton at 2/1 to score.
- No player in the Sunderland squad has a better tackle success rate than Carlos Cuellar, with 89% from 38 challenges complemented by only 6 fouls at a rate of one of 352 minutes.