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What Ba has in common with Liverpool’s Suarez and Tottenham’s Defoe

Date: 3rd December 2012 at 4:52 pm
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Demba Ba is back at NewcastleNewcastle United are desperate for a win against Wigan at St James’ Park in the Premier League this evening. Here are the stats, including one about and the number of shots he’s taken so far this season…

Alan Pardew’s side have to pick up points quickly if the manager is to avoid speculation over his future. Four straight defeats will have concerned the Newcastle fans, but they will have taken heart from their solid performance against Stoke:

- Cheick Tiote appears to have responded well to Alan Pardew’s call for a return to his form of last season. For the second consecutive match, he covered more distance than any of his team mates against Stoke with 6.53 miles.

- Demba Ba remains the Magpies’ top scorer in the league with eight strikes this season, and has also been their most accurate finisher statistically. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that the striker isn’t shot-shy, as he’s just one of three players to have made 50 or more attempts on goal. Ba’s tally of 51 is greater than anyone else’s except for Luis Suarez (76) and Jermain Defoe (52).

- Newcastle will miss the services of the injured Hatem Ben Arfa today. The midfielder has made 26 dribbles at a rate of one every 44 minutes this season, a record beaten only by Luis Suarez’s 31. Other than the these two, no Premier League player has made more than 20.

- Defender Davide Santon has really started to come into his own this season, quietly establishing himself as a consistent performer under Alan Pardew. Not only is he Newcastle’s most successful tackler, with 25 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s also compiled 41 interceptions.

- The Magpies were unfortunate to lose to Stoke, and were one of only two teams to be defeated despite covering more total distance during the game (65 miles compared to the Potters’ 63.9). A more efficient style of letting the ball do more work may be the answer to the club’s recent problems.

Wigan battled well against Manchester City on Wednesday, holding the champions to a stalemate until Mario Balotelli’s strike on 69 minutes. The Latics have won half of their previous six league games though, and will be aiming to claim three points in Monday’s only game:

- Ali Al Habsi will be unlikely to have let his blunder against Reading affect his confidence in the Wigan goal. The man from Oman has an excellent record in terms of the percentage of shots on target he’s kept out, stopping 76.9% of 108 attempts on his goal.

- Ben Watson has only played 386 minutes for Wigan this season, but in that time has compiled 175 successful passes. That places him as the league’s fourth most prolific passer according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, ahead of other excellent passers such as Santi Cazorla and Yaya Toure.

- Franco Di Santo’s pace is a weapon Wigan will be looking to unleash at St. James’s Park. Against City he recorded a top speed of 20.07 miles per hour, faster than any other man on the field. Newcastle’s defenders appeared to tire late on against Stoke, so a late introduction of Di Santo may be a smart strategic move.

- Both Maynor Figueroa and James McCarthy have been key to Wigan’s defensive efforts this season. The pair sit second and third respectively on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles won this season, notching up a massive 72 between them.

Data courtesy of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the official player rating index of the Barclays Premier League.

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