The Premier League season is now over the half-way mark, with most teams having played 21 games. Now seems like an appropriate time to compare two of the best young starlets the English top division has to offer: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj.
In the games they have played this season, both players have contributed three goals and two assists for their teams. These statistics make them virtually inseparable on the surface, as they are exactly the same.
The shooting accuracy of the two is close as well, Sterling's only marginally better at 53.3% compared with his United counterpart at 44.4%. However, Januzaj has had more shots than Sterling, which goes some way to explaining his slightly lower percentage, both players have the same number of shots on target (8), but Januzaj has three more off-target than Sterling.
So far, the two are virtually inseparable. Even when comparing crosses, both have successfully completed four crosses and have 30 unsuccessful attempts.
Unsurprisingly, both have two assists. It's incredible how similar the two are statistically.
However, Sterling takes the lead over United's Belgian-born starlet with 24 chances created, compared to Januzaj's 16. Sterling has also won two penalties for his side, whereas Januzaj has failed to win one for the Red Devils.
This leads on to the most contentious issue: diving. Both players have been accused of going down easily, and while it's not a reflection of how good a player is if they dive, it doesn't show them in a good light. The bookings accrued as a result of diving can be costly if they lead to a suspension, thus making diving a liability.
Sterling went down easily against Stoke, but the penalty was awarded. Januzaj has earned three bookings this season, which will soon cost him a suspension if he doesn't change his ways, and give him a reputation which is hard to shift.
In terms of playing style, Januzaj seems much more like the type of player to go out and drag his team to victory. His sensational performance against Swansea at the weekend is testament to that, he crashed an early free kick off the crossbar and was influential in their 2-0 victory.
Raheem Sterling does not seem like the 'star man' Januzaj is becoming. He works well with his team mates, but does not seize control of a game like the 18-year-old Januzaj seems to. Liverpool rely more heavily on the work of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard to be their talismanic figures. Sterling is obviously an important player, directly contributing to Liverpool goals on five occasions (three goals, two assists) and an impressive display versus Stoke City, but he doesn't immerse himself like Januzaj, who was (along with Shinji Kagawa) the centre of everything good about United at the weekend.
Overall, personally, I feel Januzaj may just edge it over Sterling, despite the large difference in their number of chances created. The Belgian-born winger is in electrifying form at the moment and was sensational against Swansea. He poses a constant threat to the opposition and has a cannon of a left foot. His free kick at the weekend is proof of that, but more so his volley against Sunderland. Two goals on his full debut is incredible.
The issue of diving is a tricky one. I am vehemently against it, and condemn players that do it even if they play for the team I support, but Januzaj's talent is unquestionable. He is sublime.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Who do you think is better?
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