Two of the top-flight's most in-form midfielders are primed to go head to head when Arsenal travel to Fratton Park on Wednesday evening - Alexander Hleb and Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes.

Former Spurs man Mendes has scored three goals in his last four appearances for the south-coast club as they battle against relegation.

Gunners' star Hleb, meanwhile, has been equally impressive in recent weeks, performing superbly in the Champions League ties with Real Madrid and Juventus as well as the Premiership wins over Fulham, Liverpool and Charlton.

The Belarussian playmaker looks back to his best following a lengthy early season injury lay-off and is now showing signs of recapturing the type of form that earned his move to Highbury last summer.

Regarded as one of the best players in the German Bundesliga by legendary World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer, Hleb scored his second goal in Arsenal colours during last month's 3-0 win over Charlton. His first was also scored in front of the adoring Highbury faithful - the last of the seven the Gunners put past Middlesbrough in January.

But Mendes has pedigree too - he was part of the Porto squad crowned European champions in 2004.

Having failed to settle at Tottenham following his arrival in England at the beginning of the 2004/05 season, the Portuguese schemer joined Portsmouth in January this year.

In his 12 games for the Club, Mendes has scored three goals and picked up two yellow cards.

Two of those goals, against Manchester City last month, helped Pompey to come from a goal down to claim an invaluable three points. Hleb has managed two goals from his 21 appearances so far.

The stats suggest Mendes is marginally the superior dribbler, achieving a success rate of 50 percent compared to Hleb's 47 percent. However it must be noted that Hleb has attempted over twice as many solo runs as Mendes.

But it is the Arsenal man who leads the way in the passing and tackling stakes with a success rates of 56 and 71 percent respectively, comparing favourably with Mendes' 50 and 48 percent respectively.


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Head to Head Statistics Alexander Hleb Pedro Mendes Premiership Appearances 21 11 Minutes on pitch 1248 973 Attacking Goals 2 3 Shots on target 6 11 Shots off target 5 11 Shots blocked 3 1 Offside 0 0 Supporting Assists 0 0 Passes made 105 68 Passes complete 59 34 Passes incomplete 46 34 Crosses successful 0 1 Crosses unsuccessful 5 3 Total dribbles 43 18 Dribbles successful 20 9 Dribbles unsuccessful 23 9 Defending Tackles made 31 29 Tackles won 22 14 Tackles lost 9 15 Interceptions 18 10 Blocked Shots 0 0 Clearances 6 10 Penalties Conceded 0 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 20 14 Yellow Cards 0 4

12/1 - Portsmouth v Arsenal - Arsenal to win 3-1 at Fratton Park


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 24 Mar 2006