Jens Lehmann was enjoying a good season up until the turn of the year - since then it's shaping up to become arguably the best of his lengthy career.

Clean sheets at El Santiago Bernabeu, the Stadio Delle Alpi and El Madrigal have accompanied shut-outs at home against Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal. And after just three goal-less minutes of the Semi Final second leg with Villarreal last week, Lehmann surpassed Edwin van der Sar's record of the most minutes in European competition without conceding a goal.

Not bad for a 36-year-old, supposedly in the twilight of his career. Indeed, when one considers that just last season, Arsène Wenger dropped the former AC Milan stopper for 10 Premiership games following a defeat at Liverpool, it makes Lehmann's feat this term all the more remarkable.

With hindsight, it was a typically astute move by the manager to take his keeper out of the firing line - and he is certainly reaping the rewards this term.

Further testament to Lehmann's world-class displays came in the form of a statement issued by Germany's national team manager, Jurgen Klinsmann, recently. He has decided to hand the Arsenal man the No 1 jersey for this summer's World Cup Finals.

Lehmann's opposite number when Arsenal face Manchester City tonight is still hoping to claim England's No 1 spot before the competition kicks off next month.

David James has been overtaken by Paul Robinson as Sven Goran Eriksson's first-choice keeper but has proved himself as a consistently fine shot-stopper - a valuable attribute in an age of  increasingly lightweight footballs.

Like Lehmann, the former Liverpool ace is also a great athlete and is not slow to vocally organise his defence.

But what do the stats say about the two international shot-stoppers?

Both have made 36 Premiership appearances this season, Lehmann has conceded 28 goals and kept 16 clean sheets in that time and James has let in 43, keeping six clean sheets.

The Arsenal man has made 153 saves compared with James' 178 and both have been booked just once. When it comes to distribution, Lehmann edges it; with a success rate of 62 per cent comparing favourably with James' 59 per cent.

A 17th clean sheet from Lehmann tonight would be just the tonic ahead of Sunday's encounter with Wigan - Arsenal's last-ever game at Highbury.

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Head to Head Statistics Jens Lehmann David James Premiership Appearances 36 36 Minutes on pitch 3240 3240 Attacking Goals 0 0 Shots on target 0 0 Shots off target 0 0 Shots blocked 0 0 Offside 0 0 Supporting Assists 0 0 Distributions made 252 242 Distributions successful 157 143 Distributions unsuccessful 95 242 Crosses successful 0 0 Crosses unsuccessful 0 0 Total dribbles 0 0 Dribbles successful 0 0 Dribbles unsuccessful 0 0 Defending Tackles made 0 0 Tackles won 0 0 Tackles lost 0 0 Clean sheets 16 6 Blocked Shots 0 1 Clearances 0 0 Penalties Conceded 0 1 Goals conceded 28 43 Discipline Fouls 0 1 Yellow Cards 1 1

7/1 - Manchester City v Arsenal - Arsenal to win 2-1

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4 May 2006