By Chris Harris
This has been a year to remember for Emmanuel Eboue and Stuart Parnaby. Both have nailed down the right-back spot at their respective clubs and both sampled the delights of a European final in May.
Both men ended up on the losing side as Arsenal fell to Barcelona in Paris and Middlesbrough saw Seville walk off with the UEFA Cup, but Eboue and Parnaby did their reputations no harm.
The Ivorian was one of the revelations of Arsenal's season. He stepped in for the injured Lauren and produced a string of vibrant performances on the right flant, keeping stellar talents like Real Madrid's Robinho quiet while supplementing Arsenal's attack with his exuberant overlaps.
Parnaby's rise has been less dramatic but he has become a staple of Middlesbrough's back line. The 24-year-old is no stranger to heroics either - it was Parnaby's away goal in Stuttgart which proved decisive in one of many nail-biting European ties last season.
And so to the statistics. Both men have been ever-presents this season but, with so little football played, it's too early to read much into the 2006/07 figures. However, last term's stats give us plenty of clues about the areas in which Eboue and Parnaby excel and differ.
Defensively, there is not much between the two. Parnaby played 526 more minutes than Eboue last season so it's no surprise that he edges his rival on interceptions and clearances. Eboue leads on blocks, perhaps a reflection of his startling recovery pace, and also on fouls committed, which is often a product of inexperience and the occasional rush of blood which that brings.
But it is further forward where the most striking distinctions lie. Parnaby is clearly more composed in front of goal. He scored four times last season, netting twice in the Premiership from just three shots. Eboue had more shots in the Premiership but did not find the target in that competition.
But while the Boro defender is more ruthless in front of goal, Eboue is far more comfortable with the ball at his feet. The dribbling stats bear this out with Eboue attempting 30 dribbles to Parnaby's nine. The contrast is stark when you factor in the time each player spent on the pitch last season - Eboue runs with the ball once every 37 minutes compared to Parnaby's one dribble in every 183 minutes.
It's something to look out for this weekend and probably explains why Eboue has two assists to Parnaby's none. The Arsenal right-back is regularly seen bombing towards the opposition penalty area before trying to find a team-mate, and this should be a feature of his game on Saturday.
View Emmanuel Eboue's player profile
Head to Head Statistics Emmanuel Eboue Stuart Parnaby Premiership Appearances 18 20 Minutes on pitch 1124 1650 Attacking Goals 0 2 Shots on target 2 3 Shots off target 2 0 Shots blocked 0 0 Offside 0 2 Supporting Assists 2 0 Passes made 98 119 Passes complete 54 59 Passes incomplete 44 60 Crosses successful 1 1 Crosses unsuccessful 7 13 Total dribbles 30 9 Dribbles successful 15 5 Dribbles unsuccessful 15 4 Defending Tackles made 24 29 Tackles won 18 19 Tackles lost 6 10 Interceptions 11 16 Blocked Shots 4 3 Clearances 13 18 Penalties Conceded 1 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 14 13 Yellow Cards 0 1
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