By Adam Clark

Manchester United's surge to the summit of the Premiership this season has been built on two fundamentals of footballing success. In attack they have been more profitable than any other side, while at the other end, their defence has been the league's least generous.

The fact Sir Alex Ferguson's side have conceded just 16 goals in 23 games is largely down to the speed in which Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have gelled at centre back since the latter arrived at Old Trafford just 12 months ago.

With Vidic by his side Ferdinand is enjoying arguably one of his most productive seasons since his £30 million move from Leeds in 2002.

One man who has not had such a regular partner at centre back this term is Kolo Toure. With Arsenal's back line blighted by injuries for much of the season, the Ivorian has partnered William Gallas, Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou at the heart of the Gunners defence. All have performed well but it's Toure who's proven to be Mr Dependable once again.

But what do the statistics tell us about the form of both Toure and Ferdinand?
In terms of tackling they have been equally efficient. Ferdinand has made 32 challenges so far this term and won exactly three quarters. Toure on the other hand has attempted five less tackles but has come out on top on 20 occasions, a success rate just one per cent less than his counterpart's.

Furthermore, they have had similar success in their other defensive duties. Clearances? Ferdinand leads 43 to 38. Blocked shots? 12 to 10 in the Ivorian's favour. And interceptions? The United man sneaks it 20 - 14.

The England defender has also proved marginally more efficient when it comes to distribution. Interestingly, Ferdinand has attempted 181 passes, one less than Toure but the United man has found his intended target 123 times. In comparison, Toure has found a team-mate on nine fewer occasions, an impressive total of 114 nonetheless.

Finally, they will both be hoping to have an impact at the opposite end having both found their name on the scoresheet already this campaign. Our man has so far notched twice in the Premiership, against Liverpool and in last weekend's 2-0 win at Blackburn. In comparison, Ferdinand has one strike to his name after he too scored against Rafa Benitez's side - a strike that evened the balanced after the own goal he scored on the opening day of the season against Fulham.

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Head to Head Statistics Kolo Toure Rio Ferdinand Premiership Appearances 22 22 Minutes on pitch 1980 1980 Attacking Goals 2 1 Shots on target 5 2 Shots off target 9 4 Shots blocked 1 1 Offside 2 1 Supporting Assists 2 0 Passes made 182 181 Passes complete 114 123 Passes incomplete 68 58 Crosses successful 1 3 Crosses unsuccessful 0 2 Total dribbles 14 18 Dribbles successful 8 17 Dribbles unsuccessful 6 1 Defending Tackles made 27 32 Tackles won 20 24 Tackles lost 7 8 Interceptions 14 20 Blocked Shots 12 10 Clearances 38 43 Penalties Conceded 1 0 Own Goals 0 1 Discipline Fouls 17 11 Yellow Cards 4 1

NB: Statistics as at Thursday, January 18, 2007.

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18 Jan 2007