With both Chelsea and Manchester City in action against teams in the relegation zone, it was perhaps no surprise that the passing stats were dominated by the big clubs this week. City midfielder Yaya Toure attempted 67 passes at Leicester, completing 58 of them, but the man with the most completed passes in the 3pm kick-offs was Chelsea skipper John Terry with 60 passes.
However, that number was bettered on Saturday Night Football by the unlikely figure of Cheick Tiote. The fact that the Ivorian attempted 87 passes – completing 74 of them – in Newcastle’s 4-1 defeat at Arsenal didn’t seem to do the Magpies much good. Perhaps that’s because no other Newcastle player managed even half that many passes.
Of course, much of Tiote’s use of the ball was conservative and in deep areas – he completed only 10 passes in the final third. When it came to the danger zone, Eden Hazard, was the key man. The Belgian made 34 successful passes against Hull City in the final third in a strong performance that saw him score one goal and assist the other in a 2-0 win.
Hazard created three chances for the Blues, including an assist for Diego Costa’s goal, as well as finding the net himself with a rare header. But the Chelsea star wasn’t the most creative player on view on Saturday. That honour was shared between West Ham goalscorer Stewart Downing and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, who both fashioned five chances – the latter setting up two goals for his team-mates.
A mention too for the impressive Yannick Bolasie, whose four key passes for Crystal Palace included the assist for James McArthur’s opener. But when it came to dribbling, the standout performance of the day came from a player who found himself on the losing side. Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez completed six dribbles against Manchester City – a number beaten by only eight players all season.
Burnley’s hard-working performances have been highlighted by the Premier League tracking data all season but they’ve seldom been rewarded. However, there were three points to celebrate against Southampton on Saturday with Scott Arfield more deserving than most – his 91 sprints not far behind Diafra Sakho’s season-high of 98 for West Ham.
Sakho managed 70 sprints for the Hammers at the Stadium of Light, while that number was matched by Costa at Stamford Bridge. Danny Welbeck was the striker who got closest to Arfield’s tally, though, with 82 high-intensity runs for the Gunners.
As for the distance covered stats, George Boyd and his 12.96 kilometres of running was almost undermined by the penalty he conceded for Burnley against Saints. Fortunately for him, Dusan Tadic’s spot-kick was saved by Tom Heaton. Craig Gardner wasn’t far behind as he ran 12.17km for West Brom – and scored the winning goal – in their 1-0 victory over his former club Aston Villa.
Although Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Hull was largely routine, there was a bit of edge to the game and Jake Livermore certainly made sure he put himself about. The Hull midfielder made nine tackles in the game – the second-most by any player in a Premier League game so far this season. Fortunately for Chelsea, Nemanja Matic was back from suspension to make five tackles of his own.
Kieran Gibbs was the only player to make five tackles and five interceptions – as well as four clearances – in a busy performance for Arsenal. He was one of six players to make five interceptions on Saturday with Vincent Kompany doing so despite playing just 77 minutes for City. Nipping in ahead of forwards is a Kompany trademark but the champions must now do without their skipper after a recurrence of his hamstring complaint.