Manchester United and Arsenal have always seemed to match each other pound-for-pound when it comes to quality players. Eric Cantona was matched by Dennis Bergkamp, Roy Keane by Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry by Ruud van Nistelrooy. Could Alexis Sanchez match the heroics of Wayne Rooney?
Obviously it is early days for the Chile international, who arrived at Emirates Stadium in a £35 million deal from Barcelona this summer. Meanwhile, Rooney celebrated ten years at Old Trafford having completed a £27 million move from Everton in 2004.
While Rooney is closing in on Bobby Charlton's scoring records for both Manchester United and England, Sanchez is only starting out on his mission to write himself into Arsenal's history books.
Despite Sanchez's lack of experience in the Premier League, he, alongside Rooney, is tipped to play a key role when Arsenal meet Manchester United. Do let's look at the key stats thus far and see who is likely to make the difference on Saturday.
For context, Sanchez has started nine games, appearing once off the bench while Rooney has started eight times in the Premier League. All stats are for league games alone.
Sanchez 8/2- 3/2 Rooney
Sanchez is the clear winner in this respect. The 25-year-old is hellbent on grabbing goals and reports say that Arsene Wenger has even told the Chilean to calm down a bit. Diego Costa seemed the clear favourite for the Golden Boot but Sanchez is certainly capable of pushing him all the way.
The Arsenal man also leads the way with conversion rate, hitting the back of the net an incredible 36 per cent of the time. Rooney meanwhile is languishing with a hit rate of just 13 per cent.
Sanchez 47/77% - Rooney 54/84%
The above stats shows average passes per game/completion rate and starts to show where Rooney is at his best for Manchester United. Sitting deeper, Rooney will never match a poacher like Sanchez when it comes to goal scoring, but his efforts as a playmaker are second to none.
Not only does Rooney pass more than Sanchez, he completes more of the passes he does attempt. However, Sanchez's game is based around high risk/high reward movement. As a result, he creates more key chances in a game (2.4 to Rooney's 1.4). Essentially, if Arsenal's team used Sanchez's chances as effectively as United use Rooney's, Sanchez would have more than two assists.
When it comes to making a difference, Sanchez appears most likely to make a key difference to his team. While Rooney is a world-class player, he requires his team-mates to be on form to utilize the chances he will inevitably create.
Meanwhile Sanchez is a lone wolf. He will try to do the work himself and, as always, will be one of the hardest workers out there. Both have the ability to win this game for their team, but Arsenal will be looking to Sanchez more than Manchester United will be looking to Rooney.
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