When the sides met in January, many predicted a no-contest. However Birmingham left Emirates Stadium with a deserved point and all looked rosy on the blue part of the Midlands. Since then, however, Arsenal have notched five consecutive Premier League wins while Alex McLeish's side have plummeted to within one spot of the drop zone. With both sides desperate for points for different reasons, Saturday's early fixture is likely to be a ding-dong battle you won't want to miss. This season Arsenal.com will be identifying the key battles for each Premier League game and bringing you all the statistics and information a fan could need. Swot up now and come Sunday you'll be impressing anyone who'll listen with your new-found knowledge.
Rafael Schmitz v Emmanuel Adebayor
Rafael Schmitz, on loan from Lille, has quietly gone about his business for the Blues this season, proving a useful utility man across the back four. Boasting a wealth of Champions League and top-flight French football experience, the Brazilian-born player is a tidy customer at the back. His slightly diminutive frame does not prevent him getting stuck in, but a sound reading of the game is where his strength lies - making 23 clearances. Schmitz rarely attempts a foray into the opponents' final third, with just two successful dribbles, but has registered two assists when he does. While Emmanuel Adebayor has the same number of assists, it's goals that the Togo man specialises in - 19 this term. His exuberance and incredible work-rate ensure that only the most committed defenders can keep tabs on him for the entire 90 minutes.
Sebastian Larsson v Gael Clichy
Former Gunner Sebastian Larsson is one of many who have swapped the red of Arsenal for the blue of Birmingham in recent years. He has perhaps though been the most successful. Playing virtually every match for the Blues this term, the versatile midfielder offers a defensive edge and a danger on the front foot. Tottenham Hotspur could testify for that - the Swede rocketing a late winner at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. He has also weighed in with 20 clearances and made 29 tackles. Worringly for the rest of the Premier League, Gael Clichy continues to grow and grow with every game he plays. Equaly adept on the front foot as he is on the back, the Frenchman recently celebrated a first involvement in his country's international fixtures. Yet to score, he has though provided four assists and made 21 successful dribbles into the opposing half. Tough tackling, 39 made and just nine lost, mixed with blistering pace, Clichy is a 'wing-back' in the truest sense of the word.
Olivier Kapo v Mathieu Flamini
Frenchman Olivier Kapo arrived in the Midlands in the close season from Italian giants Juventus and immediately made a name for himself with a rasping drive in the season's curtain raiser at Stamford Bridge. Since then he has gone on to register a further four goals but has not as yet got an assist. Blessed with pace and a creativity those from Serie A often possess, he is often given a free rein across midfield and up front. He has tested the goalkeeper 19 times and shot off target on a further 11 occasions. With such an unreliable position he often escapes the shackles of the midfield anchor. Few who have come up against Mathieu Flamini this season can say that. The 23-year-old has been simply awesome for the Gunners this term making 26 tackles - most of which have been won - and assuming the tag of 'midfield general'. Even one of the most seasoned players in that position, Genarro Gattuso, was outshone when the pair clashed in midweek. Adding goals, three plus two assists, and an attacking threat recently, Flamini has become a key member of Arsenal's side.
Please note: These statistics are from the 2007/08 Premier League season.Copyright 2013 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 22 Feb 2008