Arsenal legend would pick Coutinho ahead of Cazorla - Do the stats agree?

Ray Parlour picked seven Arsenal players in his combined XI.

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour selected his combined Liverpool and Arsenal XI ahead of this weekend’s clash between the two sides in the Premier League at Anfield.

In the Evening Standard, Parlour – perhaps unsurprisingly – selected seven Arsenal players and four from Liverpool, with a back line made up of completely Arsenal players.

He selected the Liverpool quartet of Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

The most surprising out of that selection of Liverpool players was Philippe Coutinho, which leads to the omission of Santi Cazorla from Parlour’s XI.

Parlour said: ‘On the left he has got that little bit of quality that you need to open the door for Suarez to score goals. Santi Cazorla has come back strong and if Aaron Ramsey was fit he would have challenged for a spot but I’ll go for Coutinho over Cazorla.’

But what do the statistics say when comparing the two players?

NameTeamPosTotal Scoring AttAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 68 19 1,425
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 45 18 1,449

Coutinho has spent less time on the field than Cazorla this season yet has managed to have an attempt at goal on 23 more occasions than his Gunners counterpart - which you could believe means that Liverpool's Brazilian carries more of a goal threat. However, Coutinho has only managed to grab two Premier League goals this season compared to Cazorla's four, which points towards the Spaniard being the more clinical of the two players in front of goal.

NameTeamPosTotal Att AssistAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 32 19 1,425
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 33 18 1,449

However, when it comes to creating opportunities for teammates, Cazorla seems to be ahead though there isn't much between the two. Both players have a terrific ability to pick out a pass and thread the ball through when, in all honesty, they have absolutely no right to, resulting in chances being created for their time when there seems to be very little opportunity to do so.

But is it all about the attacking, what about the defending? They have their fair share of that to do. Arsenal's defence has been pretty solid this season and their midfield will have had a hand in that, whilst Liverpool - like Arsenal do a lot of the time - look to win the ball relatively high up the field, meaning that their more attacking players are asked to do a bit of defensive work.

NameTeamPosWon TackleAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 25 19 1,425
NameTeamPosWon TackleAppsMins
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 18 18 1,449

Though he may be a small player, it demonstrates that Coutinho is pretty effective at winning the ball back at over a tackle a game given that much of his play comes in the final third. Cazorla likewise has the capability to win the ball back but not to the same degree as one of this weekend's opponents. Even though Parlour focused predominantly on the attacking prowess that Coutinho possesses, this could also strengthen the argument in having the Brazilian ahead of Cazorla in such a team.

image: © Dean Jones

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch