Stoke City host Everton on Wednesday night in one of a number of Premier League fixtures scheduled for midweek.
Both teams appear safe from the threat of relegation, yet Mark Hughes’ side are surprisingly 11 points better off and on current form would fancy themselves to break in to the top eight.
Ahead of the fixture at the Britannia, HITC take a closer look at two men who are pivotal to their respective team’s success – strikers Peter Crouch and Romelu Lukaku.
The latter prompted the Toffees to break their transfer record in order to acquire his services last summer, moving to Merseyside from Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Crouch, on the other hand, is a tried and tested marksman in the top flight and the Potters have benefited greatly from his performances this season – but how does he compare with Lukaku?
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As per the table provided by Opta, the once England international regular has actually got the beating of the Belgian forward so far this season, bettering him in as many as five key categories.
Both men currently sit on seven league goals apiece for the season, but Crouch is the more clinical of the two by scoring more on average - 0.29 goals per match- in contrast to Lukaku’s 0.26.
Moreover, the former Tottenham Hotspur man this season is seemingly the more accurate shooter, needing on average just 6.8 shots in comparison to Lukaku’s 11.4 strikes to find the back of the net.
The Toffees’ top scorer, however, is arguably the more inventive of the two – creating more chances for his teammates and boasting a better pass completion rate than Crouch.
Nevertheless, the 22-year-old has been criticised on occasions for dallying with the ball and this can be illustrated by the higher number of times he is dispossessed.
Crouch, rather unsurprisingly, uses his height to great effect and more often than not wins his aerial duels, yet the same can’t be said of Lukaku who has only won 35% of his aerial battles this season.
The final area which the Potters’ 6ft 7inch man comes out on top is his willingness to win the second balls and do the defensive work, a key part of his game which is often underrated or even disregarded.
While it’s clear Crouch has the better of the Goodison Park ace for now, Toffees fans must not worry as both strikers are at very different stages of their careers and it’s easy to forget how young Lukaku really is.