By Adam Clark
Go back Arsène Wenger's 10 years and the prospect of finding two African centre backs featuring in an Arsenal v Watford head-to head would be slim. Times have changed however, and on Saturday both sides will be looking for big performances from their respective African stalwarts.
In the case of Arsenal that man is Ivory Coast international Kolo Toure, who like so many, has flourished under Wenger, becoming the Club's defensive rock as a result. His opposite number at Emirates Stadium will be Dan Shittu, the Nigerian who only joined the newly-promoted Hornets from QPR in the summer but has already established himself as a permanent fixture in their rearguard.
Shittu and Watford will be hoping to pick up their first major scalp this weekend; Toure and Arsenal will be looking to continue their recent good form, but who will come out on top?
Well, according to the statistics Toure is much more efficient. For example, Shittu has made an impressive 13 dribbles compared to Toure's modest five. What is not so impressive is that Shittu has failed to provide an end product following eight of those runs, a faux pas suffered just once by the Arsenal man.
The versatile Ivorian is also the more incisive passer, albeit marginally. He has succeeded in picking out a team-mate 30 times from 51 attempts whereas the Nigerian has attempted nine passes more and found his intended target on only three more occasions.
One area in which the Vicarage Road defender has had the edge this season is in the number of tackles he's attempted. This may be the result of Watford having to soak up far more pressure than Arsenal and Shittu has taken to the task by coming out on top in 12 of his 16 attempted challenges.
Toure's competency in the challenge may be less required than Shittu's but Wenger will have been pleased all the same to see the 25-year-old win the ball five times out of six so far this season.
The Nigerian, who has one cap for the Super Eagles, will be pleased with his discipline going into the Emirates showdown having collected just one yellow card, a booking for Toure on the other hand would be his fourth.
The statistics suggest both players have produced the goods so far this campaign in side's expected to enjoy differing success. Boothroyd's men will be expecting a typically fast paced and free flowing Arsenal display to mark the 10th anniversary of Wenger's reign and if that is the case Watford's defence will undoubtedly be the busier. Don't expect them to roll over and take defeat though. Not with Shittu in command.
View Kolo Toure's player profile
Head to Head Statistics Kolo Toure Dan Shittu Premiership Appearances 6 7 Minutes on pitch 540 630 Attacking Goals 0 0 Shots on target 0 2 Shots off target 3 2 Shots blocked 0 0 Offside 0 0 Supporting Assists 0 0 Passes made 51 60 Passes complete 30 33 Passes incomplete 21 27 Crosses successful 1 0 Crosses unsuccessful 0 0 Total dribbles 5 13 Dribbles successful 4 5 Dribbles unsuccessful 1 8 Defending Tackles made 6 16 Tackles won 5 12 Tackles lost 1 4 Interceptions 2 8 Blocked Shots 3 1 Clearances 11 11 Penalties Conceded 0 1 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 5 8 Yellow Cards 3 0
NB: Statistics as at Friday, October 13, 2006.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 13 Oct 2006