By Adam Clark
When Craig Bellamy packed his bags and marched off to Liverpool in July, Blackburn fans may have feared the club's chances of building on an impressive sixth-place Premiership finish were walking with him.
The Welsh international hit 17 goals in all competitions as Mark Hughes' Rovers revolution began to take shape but with his compatriot departed the Blackburn boss needed a new goal-getter this term. Step up Benedict McCarthy.
The South African striker has slipped into Bellamy's boots and made them his own following a £2.5million move from Porto in July. With 13 goals in all competitions already, the former Ajax and Celta Vigo man was not the reason behind Blackburn's early-season inconsistency.
McCarthy was suspended for Blackburn's 6-2 hammering at Emirates in December but the result has proved something of a turning point for the Lancastrians - they welcome the Gunners on the back of four successive victories.
For Arsenal, Robin van Persie was the orchestrator of that Christmas capitulation, hitting two fine goals. The Dutchman will no doubt be looking to add to his season's tally of eight strikes on Saturday. We look at the statistics to see how the two in-form forwards compare.
Well, while McCarthy has been hitting the aforementioned 13 goals, Van Persie has managed 13 of his own and interestingly, they both have five in their last five games.
Van Persie has also made seven Premiership assists to the South African's one but this may be the result of the Dutchman's tendency to help out down the flanks.
Another example of this is that the versatile Van Persie has attempted 32 crosses this term despite playing 339 minutes fewer than his counterpart. In comparison, McCarthy has centred on just five occasions.
Van Persie has made more runs at the opposition too, yet McCarthy has been marginally more efficient. Of the Dutchman's 22 attempted dribbles 15 have had an end product whereas McCarthy has made 20 runs and seen 14 pay off.
Another area in which the Blackburn man has performed more consistently is shooting. So far this term he has managed 50 attempts on goal, of which 32 have tested the keeper. Van Persie on the other hand has had nine more efforts but has seen only 27 find the target and one strike the woodwork.
In terms of passing there is no room to draw a line between the two. Both players have attempted 123 passes so far; McCarthy has found his intended target on 77 occasions, Van Persie on 76.
Blackburn and McCarthy will see Saturday's game as the perfect opportunity to continue their incredible recovery from December's defeat at Emirates. Arsenal will be hoping to ensure an emphatic double over Hughes' side.
Arsène Wenger will no doubt be asking Van Persie to fire his side forward once again but he'll have to prepare his defenders for a tough afternoon. This time Blackburn have a red-hot hitman of their own.
View Robin van Persie's player profile
Head to Head Statistics Robin van Persie Benni McCarthy Premiership Appearances 20 20 Minutes on pitch 1369 1708 Attacking Goals 9 8 Shots on target 27 32 Shots off target 26 11 Shots blocked 5 6 Offside 12 42 Supporting Assists 7 1 Passes made 123 123 Passes complete 76 77 Passes incomplete 47 46 Crosses successful 3 0 Crosses unsuccessful 29 5 Total dribbles 22 20 Dribbles successful 15 14 Dribbles unsuccessful 7 6 Defending Tackles made 18 26 Tackles won 11 14 Tackles lost 7 12 Interceptions 2 3 Blocked Shots 1 0 Clearances 7 8 Penalties Conceded 0 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 24 35 Yellow Cards 8 5
NB: Statistics as at Thursday, January 11, 2007.Copyright 2014 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 11 Jan 2007