Theo Walcott was not at the European Championships in France this summer while Raheem Sterling probably wishes he hadn't been. Both had been in poor form in the build-up to the tournament, falling well short of the expectation set by their respective fanbases.
The two England internationals shared similar paths last season. At 27, Walcott approached a key point in his Arsenal career. If he didn't fulfill his potential soon, the odds are he never will.
Sterling was only 20-years-old at the start of last season but had to hit the ground running after completing a £49million move to Manchester City, controversially agitating his way out of Liverpool.
Both were under pressure to perform and both failed to do so. After a good start, Sterling scored just twice in 23 appearances for the Citizens between January and the end of the campaign. But Walcott was even worse, scoring just nine goals in 39 appearances, some of which were as a central striker.
For Walcott, the result was more time on Arsenal's bench and an omission from Roy Hodgson's England squad. Sterling went to France but his poor form quickly made him a scapegoat for the Three Lions' catastrophic failure.
However, both appear to have taken the same magic potion because they have since turned themselves around in spectacular fashion. Gareth Southgate is expected to name both in his first England squad on Sunday and the pair could form a devastating attack for the upcoming qualifiers, at least on current form.
But which one has performed better? With the help of Squawka, we've taken a look at some of their key performance indicators to see just how much they have improved.
Nothing says success in football like goals, so it comes as no surprise to see Walcott and Sterling firing well. Both have scored five this season with Sterling grabbing four in the Premier League and Walcott three.
Shot Coversion Rate (Premier League)
But Sterling's four goals have come from just 15 shots, giving him a conversion rate of 27.5%. Walcott, with 18 shots, can only boast an efficiency of 16.6%. Both are good but Sterling's is world-class. Walcott makes up some ground in the Champions League with two goals from just four shots. Sterling, on the other hand, has just one goal to show from his six shots in the European competition.
Playing as wingers for their respective sides, it is not just about scoring goals but creating them as well. Sterling has two assists thus far while Walcott has one. Neither of those stand out but when you move to chances created, you start to see just how good one of them is.
Sterling has created 16 chances for his team-mates across all competitions, leaving Walcott in his wake with just eight. Sterling has only played 77 more minutes than Walcott so his creativity is far superior. He has also completed more key passes with 13 compared to Walcott's seven.
Playing for a Pep Guardiola team, it is no surprise to see Sterling complete more passes than Walcott (168 to 122) but Walcott has stolen a march in one key area, forward passing. Walcott has completed 107 forward passes so far this season, slightly better than Sterling's 105.
But Sterling has always been one to take on a player rather than pass and this is where the biggest difference lay. The Man City man has completed 29 dribbles so far this season while Walcott is on 13.
What Walcott is lacking in creativity, he is making up for in application. The 27-year-old has helped Hector Bellerin on a number of occasions already this season, tracking back relentlessly and winning the ball back in his own half no less than 12 times. He has also made five interceptions.
Sterling, in comparison, has eight successful tackles to his name and four interceptions; less than Walcott despite playing more minutes.
The stats appear to suggest that Sterling has been the better player but there is no question that both deserve to be in the England squad next week and possibly even starting against Malta and Slovenia.
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