Top Stats to Remember Ahead of the Weekend's Premier League Action
The klaxon has sounded, and that can only mean one thing: The international break is over!
Shaun Maloney's late free-kick gave Scotland a win in Macedonia, while Chris Coleman's "mind games" failed miserably against Serbia. Elsewhere, Northern Ireland succumbed to the dominance of mighty Luxembourg, Giovanni Trapattoni said farewell to the Republic of Ireland after five-and-a-half years in charge and Gary Lineker's tweet regarding England's lacklustre performances flooded the nation's back pages.
Phew, it's certainly been eventful!
But it's now time to focus on the thing that really matters to fans throughout the length and breadth of the country: Premier League football.
Steve Bruce's Hull City welcome Cardiff City to the KC Stadium for a match that may prove to be an all-important "six-pointer" come May. Hull City currently find themselves within the dark and gloomy depths of the foot of the table, whereas a win for Cardiff City could see the Bluebirds clambering toward Europa League places. It's still early days, yes, but every Premier League side will be hoping for a great start to their 2013/14 campaign.
Nine matches will be played this weekend, and while it may simply come down to luck or a last-gasp winner that clinches victory, I have gathered some top statistics from the Squawka basement for your perusal that may play a part in deciding the final scoreline.
Merseyside Ebb and Flow
Everton are currently creating 13.33 chances per game this season, up from 12.63 last season. In contrast, Chelsea are creating 11.33 chances per game and restricting their opponents to only 8.33 chances per game.
Jose Mourinho is seemingly up to his old tricks in making sure Chelsea's defensive frailties are eradicated, which could ultimately prove to be Everton's undoing, despite the fact that Roberto Martinez has the Toffees playing some attractive football in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ross Barkley pulling the strings in midfield.
With an average pass accuracy of 93 percent, Everton's 19-year-old playmaker will hope to cause havoc on Saturday.
Roberto Martinez will continue to encourage his side to create opportunities as he seeks to instill his philosophy into the fabric of the squad. However, having faced Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City in the opening fixtures, Chelsea will prove to be a far sterner test of his side's character.
West Brom and Hull City Lack Bite
If you travel to a Hull City or West Bromwich Albion game this weekend expecting goals, you could be in for a disappointing afternoon.
Hull City have attempted fewer shots than any other Premier League team, whereas West Bromwich Albion have the third-lowest total. In terms of shots testing opposition goalkeepers, West Brom have the fewest shots on target (20 percent), while Steve Bruce's side have also struggled to hit the target.
With Hull City welcoming last season's Championship winners, Cardiff City, to the KC Stadium, and Fulham playing host to West Brom, Steve Bruce and Chris Hughton will be looking to the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Danny Graham to test the opposition goalkeeper far more frequently.
Sunderland Look to "Verticalidad"
Sunderland have played the highest number of forward passes (66.8 percent) in the Premier League this season, and while Paolo Di Canio may not have been inspired by Marcelo Bielsa's ideologies and philosophies, it would seem that the loony Italian has sought to instill a sense of directness into the Black Cats' style of play; although it's perhaps too early to notice distinct patterns and tactical trends.
Even though Sebastian Larsson, Emanuele Giaccherini and Adam Johnson have laid on a combined 13 chances for their teammates, resulting in two goals, Di Canio is still searching for his first victory in the league this season.
With greater precision in front of goal, aided by the use of direct passing, Sunderland may give Arsenal a scare on Saturday.
Misfiring Red Devils
It hasn't been the most comfortable of starts for David Moyes, with Shinji Kagawa pointing the finger at the Scot in bemusement over his lack of playing time, as reported by Sky Sports. To add to that, the reigning champions have only achieved the same number of shots on target (15) as newly promoted side Crystal Palace—the team United face in Saturday's early kickoff.
Marouane Fellaini should add some '60s style, aerial prowess and fierce elbows throughout the attacking third, keeping the likes of Mile Jedinak and Joel Ward on their toes. The Crystal Palace pair have the second- and third-highest tally of duels in the Premier League and will be kept busy once again at Old Trafford.
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