By Adam Clark

When Graham Souness left Blackburn for Newcastle in September 2004 he left his successor, Mark Hughes, a gift.

Midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen, Souness' £1.5million bargain buy from Tromso earlier that summer, has proved to be an integral part of Hughes' Rovers revolution. In fact, it was the Norwegian's goal at Ewood Park last season that saw Arsenal defeated 1-0 as the Lancastrians went on to finish sixth in the Premiership - their equal highest finish since winning the competition in 1995.

Unfortunately, things haven't quite gone to plan for Blackburn this season and they visit Emirates Stadium on Saturday lying 16th in the Premiership table. One opponent Pedersen could see charging down the opposite wing during the match is Robin van Persie. Although regarded as a striker, the Dutchman has been asked to play down the flanks in recent months and has shown he can be a versatile asset to the Gunners.
But, statistically, how have the two men fared this season?

Well, while Pedersen has hit two goals from midfield this campaign, Van Persie's time up front has seen him notch seven for the Gunners. For the Blackburn midfielder both goals have come in the Premiership but our man has five domestic strikes and two in the Champions League.

Van Persie has also made four Premiership assists to the Norwegian's two. This could be the result of the Dutchman's attacking tendencies, another example of which is the 28 crosses he's attempted so far this term. That said his record in this area is dwarfed by the 49 crosses made by Pedersen.

The Arsenal man has also made more runs at the opposition despite playing 332 minutes less than his counterpart. Of his 17 attempted dribbles 13 have had an end product, whereas Pedersen has made 16 runs and seen just seven pay off.

Two areas in which both players have performed equally are distribution and shooting. So far this term the Blackburn man has managed 34 shots on goal, of which 13 have tested the keeper, and has also found his intended target with 59.5 per cent of his passes. Van Persie on the other hand has had 41 attempts at goal, seen 16 find the target and another come off the woodwork. In terms of passing, he has found a team-mate with 54 of his 90 passes, a success rate of exactly 60 per cent.

So both men have been performing well in teams with differing fortunes. Blackburn and Pedersen will see Saturday's game as the perfect opportunity to turn their domestic campaign around, whereas Arsenal will be keen to avoid dropping points for the second home game in eight days.

Van Persie's versatility could even see these two share a wing at Emirates on Saturday. The statistics suggest it would be some battle.

Player Profile
View Robin van Persie's player profile

Head to Head Statistics Robin van Persie Morten Gamst Pedersen Premiership Appearances 16 16 Minutes on pitch 1009 1341 Attacking Goals 5 2 Shots on target 16 13 Shots off target 21 18 Shots blocked 3 3 Offside 8 10 Supporting Assists 4 2 Passes made 90 126 Passes complete 54 75 Passes incomplete 36 51 Crosses successful 3 5 Crosses unsuccessful 25 44 Total dribbles 17 16 Dribbles successful 13 7 Dribbles unsuccessful 4 9 Defending Tackles made 10 27 Tackles won 6 17 Tackles lost 4 10 Interceptions 1 9 Blocked Shots 1 4 Clearances 4 14 Penalties Conceded 0 0 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 15 25 Yellow Cards 6 1

NB: Statistics as at Thursday, December 21, 2006.

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21 Dec 2006