Welcome to a weekly article on EPLIndex.com examining some of the talking points from the Premier League fixture week. This week Karsten looks at van Persie, James Collins, Kevin Mirallas, Sergio Aguero, and Paolo di Canio’s Sunderland. All of the Talking Points are below.
van Persie’s Creative Contribution
When Manchester United take the field at the Britannia on Sunday, it will have been 63 days since Robin van Persie last scored a league goal for United. Despite this long goalless streak, scrutiny of the striker’s form in the media seems to have quieted of late. This can partially be attributed to van Persie’s strong international form (he netted 3 times over the recent break for the Netherlands), but is more likely due to his integral role in creating recent goals for United even while not scoring himself. United have scored two goals in their past two games – both have been from chances created by van Persie. Against City, van Persie was United’s strongest creative player crafting four chances for the Reds.
Collins Steady Against Suarez
James Collins attempted and completed the most tackles of any player in the league this fixture week during West Ham’s dogged defensive draw at Anfield. The performance is all the more impressive considering Collins was matched against Luis Suarez who has routinely made defenders look foolish this year. Unfortunately, Collins also embodied West Ham’s decidedly less impressive attacking performance completing only 10 of 21 attempted passes.
Mirror Goal for Mirallas
For the second week running, the Kevin Mirallas was able to contribute a crucial goal for Everton from impressive solo play. Both goals intriguingly initiated and finished from similar positions on the field. It is also notable that Mirallas used an identical dribble to open space for himself to score against Tottenham as he did to wrong foot Geoff Cameron and score against Stoke.
In both cases, Mirallas moves forward at pace and uses a quick double swivel to use the final defender’s own weight and momentum to open space for a shot. It will be interesting to see if Mirallas is able to continue finding joy through the same move or if his form cools as defenders adapt to defending against the specific threat he presents.
Aguero Again Key for City
It’s rare to find a correlation as strong as City’s wins and Aguero’s goals. The relationship is simple: when Aguero scores City win. City have taken 33 points in the nine league games when Aguero has netted and Monday’s derby against Manchester United was no different. The lone game when Aguero scored and City did not win? At home against Liverpool where Aguero scored late from an incredibly acute, seemingly impossible angle to salvage a point for the Citizens.
The Paolo Press
In the wake of Paolo Di Canio’s first game at the helm for Sunderland, the press reaction has generally been that the game was a loss that Di Canio and Sunderland fans can take some encouragement from. Most frequently cited as a bright spot is a perceived increased level of pressure high up the pitch against Chelsea. Comparing to Sunderland’s most recent away performance against top four opposition preceding Di Canio, this assertion of a newer, more aggressive Sunderland isn’t quite born out. Plotting out interceptions, the performance looks largely the same as it has in the past. Tackling stats show a similar relationship with neither performance too distinct from the other.
Di Canio has been quick to pin the failure on a lack of fitness in the squad leading to a slackening of pressure in the second half. Again, this does not appear to be reflected in the actual stats with Sunderland seeming to actually press higher and more effectively in the second half judging from interceptions.
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