John Terry v Rio Ferdinand: Head-to-head

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The defensive back-bone of the two strongest Premier League clubs: John Terry for Chelsea, and Rio Ferdinand for Manchester United; both had another competitive battle as Chelsea drew 0-0 at Old Trafford.

The wall like defenders stood tall as the most explosive forward line in the PL faced against two of the best strikers; and came out with their heads held high.

The veteran stars, have both etched their names in the history books; but which name is brighter?

Excelling at similar positions at two of the biggest clubs in the world, the two legends have been pipped against each other, more than once; but who is the better package?

At 32 and 34, Terry and Ferdinand respectively, are on their last runs, having played at the top level for over a decade.

Terry has featured in a massive 576 games for Chelsea in the span, while Ferdinand has been integral in an astounding 671 matches for Leeds, West Ham and United. They are closer in the International cards though, with Ferdinand's 81 appearances to Terry's 78.

Style of play: Seen as a typical old-school British defender, Terry made a reputation for putting his body on the line for the cause.

Ferdinand is a more modern defender, and is better at ball skills and dribbling, making him England’s premier ball-playing defender.

However, Terry's goal scoring ability makes him a bigger threat as a player.

For a direct stats comparison, lets compare their stats from the 2002 season onwards, when Ferdinand moved to United, and Terry established himself as a regular at Chelsea.

Clean sheets: Over the years Terry has helped the Blues keep a Clean Sheet 159 times, compared to Ferdinand's 129.

Ferdinand has made an average of 27 league appearances per season, and in that time, has kept an average of 12.9 clean sheets per season. In total, he’s kept a clean sheet for every 2.085 games.

Terry’s 311 appearances work out at an average of 31 games per season, with a clean sheet rate of 15.9.

Terry's best Clean Sheet record was in title winning 2005-06 season, while Ferdinand had an impressive 19 CS in 2007-08. In fact, Terry has kept over 20 CS during three seasons: 2004-05, 05-05, and 08-09.

This really pushes the balance in Terry's favour, but an interesting figure arises.

Ferdinand has 27 CS against Teams finishing in the Top 6; while Terry has 31.This works out an average one CS every 2.44 games for Ferdinand, while Terry is slightly off at 2.61; which evens out the score here.

The next biggest factor in comparing defenders is: Goals Scored Against.

Terry has a healthy average of 0.72 goals per match in the past 11 years, with Ferdinand at an almost identical 0.75.

Terry's best season: the unforgettable 2004-05 campaign, had him scored against, only 13 times.

Ferdinand's best year in these terms was 2007-08, where he had 21 goals against him in 35 appearances: an average of 0.6 only. 

In terms of the top six teams, Captain Blue has 83 goals against him in 81 matches; while Rio has 70 in 66 games.

In the European Competition though, Terry has 39 Clean Sheets compared to Ferdinand's 36; but Terry has played 17 more games to Ferdinand's 70.

However, in the Knock-out stages, Ferdinand is the clear pick, with an impressive 14 Clean sheets in 28 games, compared to Terry's 12 in 41.

If we compare their Silverware, Terry's Individual honors' outnumber Ferdinand's:

Terry was named to the FIFPro World XI for five consecutive years from 2005 to 2009, and was also in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament. He has also been the recipient of UEFA's Best Defender award in 2005, 08, and 09; and a part of the UEFA Team of the Year in 2005, 07, 08, and 09.

Ferdinand has been in the PFA Team of the Year six times and in the FIFA World XI once for his performance during the 2007-08 season.

However, Ferdinand has been instrumental in clinching six Premier League titles with United in his time span, while Terry and Chelsea have managed three in that period.

Ferdinand has played five finals with United: three in the League Cup and two FA Cup Finals, whereas Terry has featured in seven cup finals, three in the League Cup and an impressive four FA Cup Finals.

Although Captain Terry has more finals under his belt he has managed to keep clean sheets in only two of them, while Ferdinand has three clean Sheets in his five features.

Where Terry really scores over Ferdinand is the number of goals the Blues' captain has netted.

Terry has a very impressive 32 League goals to his name; most of them headers. He is a persistent threat in the opposition's box, and very strong aerially.

Ferdinand has only managed 11 goals in the league.

As defenders, one could argue that goals should be the lowest parameter of comparison between the two; but we cannot rule out the fact that goals win matches and these two gladiators always fight to win.

Another notable factor is Terry's declining form. The captain has managed only 26 CS in the last three season, featuring in 75 games, while Ferdinand has 30 in the same span, with equal number of games.

The age dip has been much steeper for Terry, while Ferdinand has kept his performance slope gradual.

There is no clear way to point out one better than the other. Their numbers stack up similarly, with neck to neck statistics. 

For an over the years performance, Terry has to be the pick. The former England captain has led his team from the front, and been one of the best defenders in the World, consistently. 

However, in the past few seasons, Ferdinand had adapted into the experienced campaigner United need, and kept up his displays. He has been the better of the two, managing his age wise decline better than Terry.

Overall though, the two legends are both stars in the football galaxy, and shine similarly from a neutral point of view.

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