By Adam Clark
In October Theo Walcott and Ashley Young celebrated together as part of the England Under-21 squad that overcame Germany to qualify for next summer's European Championships. On Boxing Day the two international starlets could come face to face as Arsenal head to Vicarage Road to play Watford.
Young has clocked up 1,440 minutes for the newly-promoted Hornets so far this term, scoring three goals. Walcott on the other hand has been slowly introduced to first-team football by Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger. The jet-heeled 17-year-old has still managed 466 minutes but he is yet to open his scoring account for the Gunners.
Walcott may have seen his England pal play a more hands-on role so far this season but what do the statistics tell us about both players' respective contributions?
Firstly, Walcott has been marginally more efficient in terms of distribution. The Arsenal youngster has found his target with 67 per cent of his 51 passes, which equates to a successful pass every 14 minutes. In comparison, Young has enjoyed a 58 per cent success rate from his 121 passes, equating to one accurate knock every 21 minutes.
One area in which the Watford youngster has excelled is crossing. So far this campaign he has centred 91 times and seen his team-mates capitalise on 11 occasions. Walcott has also achieved success in this area and seen Arsenal make use of four of his 12 attempts.
The Arsenal youngster has the upper hand when it comes to running at the opposition though. So far he has tried to take on an opponent on 15 occasions and has come out on top two thirds of the time. Young however has forayed forward on 31 occasions but has only a 50/50 success rate.
Finally, in the last third their efficiency has been similar. Walcott has managed 10 shots, of which three have found the target, two have been blocked and one has hit the woodwork. Young has had 31 stabs at goal, tested the keeper 17 times, had three blocked and also thumped the framework. The most remarkable statistic though is that all this adds up to a shot every 46 and a half minutes for both players.
Walcott could be forgiven for looking at the first-team action afforded to his England team-mate with envy. After all Young seems to be grasping his Premiership opportunity with both hands. Nonetheless, Walcott has not been short of opportunities in his short career and if on Tuesday he gets another chance to impress, and notch that elusive first goal, he'll certainly be desperate to take it.
Three points for the Gunners would be nice, and for Walcott a slot on the scoresheet would be the perfect Christmas gift.
View Theo Walcott's player profile
Head to Head Statistics Theo Walcott Ashley Young Premiership Appearances 11 16 Minutes on pitch 466 1440 Attacking Goals 0 3 Shots on target 3 17 Shots off target 4 10 Shots blocked 2 3 Offside 1 12 Supporting Assists 2 4 Passes made 51 121 Passes complete 34 70 Passes incomplete 17 51 Crosses successful 4 11 Crosses unsuccessful 12 80 Total dribbles 15 31 Dribbles successful 10 15 Dribbles unsuccessful 5 16 Defending Tackles made 3 15 Tackles won 3 10 Tackles lost 0 5 Interceptions 1 4 Blocked Shots 2 1 Clearances 2 12 Penalties Conceded 0 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 1 33 Yellow Cards 0 1
NB: Statistics as at Thursday, December 21, 2006.Copyright 2015 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