Thierry Henry has been terrorising Premiership defences year on year since his arrival at Arsenal. He is widely regarded as one of the best strikers in world football and enjoyed a successful summer in helping his country to the World Cup Final in Germany.
Not so for Darren Bent. The Charlton youngster burst onto Premiership pitches last season like a veteran among English football's elite and scored seven goals in his first seven games. Yet Bent spent his World Cup summer watching on as his compatriots struggled for goals and form, before eventually being dumped out on penalties by Portugal in the Quarter Finals. His early scoring form last term was no fluke either, as he ended the campaign as the top scoring Englishman with an impressive tally of 15 Premiership goals. But despite this success the speedy striker was left to wonder just how, and why, he'd been overlooked.
Their summers may have differed considerably, but when Henry and Bent meet in Saturday's encounter at The Valley it's certain both rearguards will need to be on their toes. We take a look at the stats and ask: which defence is most likely to be breached?
Well, despite Bent's notable goalscoring form last term, Henry's total of 24 eclipses the aforementioned 15 from the Charlton striker. This season Henry has two goals to Bent's one, but no doubt they will expect to add to their tallies soon.
Both players have blistering pace and composure in abundance but the style in which they deliver their goals differs greatly. Bent's success has come from a direct style of play which sees him dart into the box through the middle, whereas Arsenal's all-time record scorer likes to drift out wide to collect the ball before tormenting his opponents. This may be a reason why the Frenchman made eight assists last season compared to Bent's two.
Arsenal's tendency to dominate possession in their matches may explain why Henry outstrips Bent in goal attempts. The Arsenal captain had 132 shots on goal last season while the Charlton youngster had only 79. Henry was marginally better at hitting the target too with 51 per cent of his efforts testing the goalkeeper compared to 49 per cent of Bent's.
Interestingly, both players have managed similar consistency this season. So far Henry has managed to hit the target with 12 of his 26 efforts and Bent five of his 12.
One area in which the former Ipswich striker has outdone his counterpart this season is passing. Bent has looked for a team-mate on 45 occasions so far and found his target 27 times. Henry has a similar success rate but from only 29 attempts. Last season's passing statistics cannot split the two. Henry's total of 165 was just 18 more than Bent and a 55 per cent success rate outdid the Charlton man by just one per cent.
So the stats suggest both players' performances this season have been just a little shy of what can be expected. Henry looks to be finding his form now with goals in successive games and Bent will be hoping to hit a purple patch similar to the one that made his name this time last year. As you would expect, their respective efforts on goal and commitment to team play suggest there's no lack of endeavour, and with that in mind you wouldn't bet against either of these players making a telling contribution on Saturday.
View Thierry Henry's player profile
Head to Head Statistics Thierry Henry Darren Bent Premiership Appearances 4 6 Minutes on pitch 360 540 Attacking Goals 2 1 Shots on target 12 5 Shots off target 11 5 Shots blocked 3 1 Offside 5 2 Supporting Assists 1 0 Passes made 29 45 Passes complete 16 27 Passes incomplete 13 18 Crosses successful 4 3 Crosses unsuccessful 4 3 Total dribbles 11 8 Dribbles successful 6 3 Dribbles unsuccessful 5 5 Defending Tackles made 1 8 Tackles won 0 3 Tackles lost 1 5 Interceptions 0 4 Blocked Shots 0 0 Clearances 0 2 Penalties Conceded 0 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 0 7 Yellow Cards 0 0
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 29 Sep 2006