By Peter Gasston

The central midfield berth is often described as the engine room of a team; it's the central midfielders job to drive the team forward when an attack is needed, and to keep the game ticking over when there's an advantage to protect.

Both the players in today's head-to-head operate in that central role - and both have played there for Arsenal.

Junichi Inamoto signed for Arsenal on loan from Gamba Osaka in July 2001. His time at Highbury was not a happy one, and he found himself making just four appearances - two starts in the League Cup and two from the bench in the Champions League. He moved to Fulham the next summer.

Edu arrived from Corinthians in January 2001 but injured himself in his first game and made only five appearances that season. His second season was far more successful and he helped the Gunners to their 'double' win.

The two players' fortunes have been almost opposites this season. Inamoto started off as first choice but has been increasingly used from the bench in recent games, whereas Edu at first found his chances blocked by Vieira, Gilberto and Parlour.

Injuries have given him several starts recently and he has seized his chance, including a fantastic performance in the 5-1 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League.

Inamoto has played 802 minutes of Premiership football this season, to Edu's 463. But the Brazilian has been just as busy as the Japanese; Edu has scored one goal and had five shots on target, Inamoto has scored two from five on target.

While the number of passes the two men have played is different, the success ratio is almost identical. Edu's 37 out of 58 gives him 64% accuracy, Inamoto's 56 out of 86 gives him 65%. And Edu has played comparatively more passes in his time on the pitch than his former team-mate.

The duo also have an extremely similar defensive ratio. Edu has won nine of the 18 tackles he put in (a ratio of 50%) while Inamoto has won 18 of 37 (49%). The Fulham man has made comparatively more tackles in his time on the pitch.

But it's discipline that lets the Japanese international down. He has commited 20 fouls and picked up a total of seven yellow cards. Edu has commited nine fouls and picked up only one booking.

There's no doubt, however, that both will be equally keen to end the day victorious in this London derby.

See Edu's player file

Edu - Junichi Inamoto 10 Premiership Appearances 12 463 Minutes on pitch 802 Attacking 1 Goals 2 5 Shots on target 5 3 Shots off target 9 2 Shots blocked 2 Supporting 1 Assists 1 58 Passes made 86 37 Passes complete 56 21 Passes incomplete 30 1 Crosses successful 1 0 Crosses unsuccessful 2 1 Total dribbles 3 0 Dribbles successful 1 1 Dribbles unsuccessful 2 Defending 18 Tackles made 37 9 Tackles won 18 9 Tackles lost 19 11 Interceptions 17 10 Clearances 9 Discipline 9 Fouls 20 1 Yellow Cards 7

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Richard Clarke 28 Nov 2003