By Adam Clark
When Tomas Rosicky arrived at the back end of last season, just weeks before the start of the World Cup, it happened quietly.
His name was one many had heard but who could claim to truly know what he would bring to the Premiership?
Three weeks later the Czech midfielder smashed two goals against the USA - both goal of the tournament contenders - and suddenly Arsenal fans buzzed with anticipation.
On Sunday he will take to the field against Middlesbrough looking to continue an impressive start to 2007. Opposing him will be Stewart Downing, a player of undoubted promise, who has himself come into form in recent weeks.
We looked at the statistics to see exactly what both players have brought to English football's top flight so far this season.
Well, in Downing's case it's crosses. And lots of them. So far this campaign the Boro winger has centred 118 times and seen a team-mate capitalise on 14 occasions. In comparison, Rosicky, whose game centres around breaking forward and cutting in to support the strikers, has produced one successful cross from just seven attempts.
Their differing styles have brought the same number of assists - three apiece - although Downing leads the way with two league goals to Rosicky's none. In fairness, the Czech midfielder did score one of the goals of the season at Hamburg in the Champions League and fire the Gunners into the FA Cup Fourth Round with a breathtaking double at Anfield.
So far this campaign the former Borussia Dortmund star has managed 29 shots on goal, found the target on 13 occasions and seen another effort clatter the woodwork. Downing has tested the goalkeeper with exactly half of his 38 attempts.
In terms of dribbling Downing has again been the most productive but our man has been the most efficient. Of the England winger's 50 attempted runs he has a 50:50 success rate. Rosicky on the other hand has taken on the opposition on 21 occasions and produced an end product on 16 occasions.
The two have also proved efficient in terms of distribution. Rosicky has picked out a team-mate with 60 per cent of his passes while Downing has found his intended target 63 per cent of the time.
In fairness, injuries have restricted the Arsenal man to just 1,198 minutes of Premiership action - 583 minutes less than his counterpart. Therefore Rosicky's 91 successful passes equates to one every 13 minutes whereas Downing (101) averages one accurate pass every 18 minutes.
With Rosicky going into the game on the back of his influential performance in Wednesday's Carling Cup victory and Downing a key figure in Middlesbrough's forward play, the battle between these two could be telling on Saturday. One thing's for sure - it won't be dull.
Head to Head Statistics Tomas Rosicky Stewart Downing Premiership Appearances 17 20 Minutes on pitch 1198 1781 Attacking Goals 2 0 Shots on target 13 19 Shots off target 15 11 Shots blocked 0 8 Offside 0 2 Supporting Assists 3 3 Passes made 152 159 Passes complete 91 101 Passes incomplete 61 58 Crosses successful 1 14 Crosses unsuccessful 6 94 Total dribbles 21 50 Dribbles successful 16 25 Dribbles unsuccessful 5 25 Defending Tackles made 25 30 Tackles won 16 16 Tackles lost 9 14 Interceptions 4 7 Blocked Shots 1 1 Clearances 8 14 Penalties Conceded 0 1 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 8 10 Yellow Cards 2 2
NB: Statistics as at Friday, February 2, 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 2 Feb 2007