By Adam Clark
After being released by Liverpool as a teenager Leighton Baines moved 20 miles north to Wigan Athletic, a club plying its trade in what was then called Division Two.
Four years later he realised his Premiership dream as part of the squad that strolled into English football's top flight and turned heads with an impressive 10th-place finish and a Carling Cup Final appearance.
While Wigan have suffered from what football pundits now call 'second season syndrome', Baines, 22, has cemented his place as first-choice left back and been tipped for an full England call-up following some eye-catching displays for the Under-21s.
Another man who has taken to his left-back role like a duck to water and made it his own is Gael Clichy. Since missing the opening two months of the season through injury, the 21-year-old Frenchman has proved a more than adequate replacement for the departed Ashley Cole, and won many admirers with his assured and confident performances.
We know both players have been on form this campaign but what more can the statistics tell us? Well, plenty.
They have been equally efficient when it comes to distribution - each finding a team-mate with 60 per cent of their passes. But while Clichy's 74 successful attempts in 1359 minutes of Premiership football equates to one every 18 minutes, he is behind Baines, whose 133 accurate passes in 2070 minutes averages out at one every 16 minutes.
Another area where the two have enjoyed similar success is dribbling. Clichy edges it this time though with 11 successful crosses from 15 attempts - an average of one every 90 minutes. In comparison, Baines has one more success from two more attempts but with so many additional minutes of football under his belt those figures only equate to one productive run every 122 minutes.
In terms of tackling, the Arsenal man comes out on top again having won 18 of his 24 challenges so far this campaign. In comparison, Baines has made 33 tackles and come out on top on 22 occasions.
As for their other defensive duties there's not much between the two. The Wigan man has produced 16 more clearances, three additional blocks and two extra interceptions but if you average it out against their time on the pitch it's blocks and clearances to Baines, interceptions to Clichy.
One final thing the Wigan man has over his counterpart is an
assist and a goal. How the Emirates crowd would love Clichy to
level up on both counts on Sunday.
View Gael Clichy's player profile
Head to Head Statistics Gael Clichy Leighton Baines Premiership Appearances 16 23 Minutes on pitch 1359 2070 Attacking Goals 0 1 Shots on target 1 7 Shots off target 5 9 Shots blocked 0 4 Offside 1 1 Supporting Assists 0 1 Passes made 124 220 Passes complete 74 133 Passes incomplete 50 87 Crosses successful 1 6 Crosses unsuccessful 17 31 Total dribbles 15 17 Dribbles successful 11 12 Dribbles unsuccessful 4 5 Defending Tackles made 24 33 Tackles won 18 22 Tackles lost 6 11 Interceptions 12 14 Blocked Shots 4 7 Clearances 22 38 Penalties Conceded 0 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 10 16 Yellow Cards 1 3
NB: Statistics as at Thursday, February 8, 2007.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 7 Feb 2007