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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 07:55 GMT
The Mersey marvels
BBC Sport Online's Phil McNulty

The Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on Sunday will stage one of the season's most eagerly-awaited head-to-head battles.

England striker Michael Owen will spearhead Liverpool's attack - while football's new teenage sensation Wayne Rooney will be Everton's big hope.

Owen is the striker who has achieved it all at 23 while Rooney has the world at his feet only weeks after celebrating his 17th birthday recently.

So how do the two wonder boys compare as they prepare to do battle at Anfield?


PACE

Michael Owen

Owen possesses pace to burn - a quality that underscored his sensational arrival on the scene for Liverpool and England.

Has suffered with hamstring injuries, but still as swift as anyone when it matters.

Wayne Rooney

Not as obvious as Owen's, but it has already been pointed out that when Rooney gets away from defences they very rarely catch up.

Rooney's pace is out of the ordinary, but Owen just has the edge.


POWER

Michael Owen
Powerful and well able to take care of himself in the physical combat of the Premiership - just ask Gary Neville.

Owen relies more on pace than power, but is strong despite his slight frame.

Wayne Rooney
Rooney's power has alarmed the finest defences. Fiercely strong and competitive for a 17-year-old.

Stocky build, powerful around the neck and shoulders, the teenager is a bullish figure who will be a frightening prospect when fully developed.


ALL-ROUND GAME

Michael Owen
Owen is very much the Liverpool spearhead, and while he is more than happy to do his share of the legwork, he is a striker in the traditional mould.

He wants to be on the sharp end of Liverpool's attacks and has an outstanding goals record.

Wayne Rooney
Experts believe this is one area where Rooney will eventually have the advantage over someone even as good as Owen.

Rooney has demonstrated, with a virtuoso display against Blackburn, that he has the capacity to be the complete player as he matures.

He was creating and taking chances, while providing the link between Everton's midfield and attack.


GOALSCORING

Michael Owen
Owen's goal ratio is outstanding. He remains England's finest striker and a scorer of important goals.

He won the FA Cup almost single-handedly against Arsenal in 2001 and is a striker of world repute. A master marksman.

Wayne Rooney
Comparisons with Owen in this area would be premature - one is an outstanding striker of his generation and the other is just starting out on his career.

But Rooney has proved he can score spectacular goals, as against Arsenal and Leeds, plus the clinical finishes in the fashion of his strike against Blackburn.

He also has a happy habit of scoring crucial goals. Rooney's three league goals have all been match winners.


DID YOU KNOW?

Michael Owen
Owen was a boyhood Everton fan whose father Terry played for the club.

And there is a famous picture of Anfield's favourite son smiling happily in the kit of Liverpool's rivals.

Wayne Rooney
Rooney allegedly turned up to play a trial game at Liverpool wearing his full Everton kit - and politely declined a request to change it for the more traditional red.

He was Everton's mascot in a derby at Anfield in the mid-90s and his younger brother John is also on the club's books.

And the Rooney family home in Liverpool is a shrine to his beloved Everton, with the youngster's bedroom decked out in blue rosettes.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 Former Everton striker Graeme Sharp
"Rooney has all you want in a top-class footballer"
 Former Everton striker Adrian Heath
"This could be the start of a new chapter for Everton"
 Former Liverpool defender Alan Kennedy
"The derby means a lot to the fans"
 VOTE RESULTS
Who will win Sunday's Merseyside derby?

Liverpool
 44.34% 

Everton
 39.92% 

Draw
 15.74% 

23983 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
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