Arsenal are a side that traditionally have always played very attractive football and as such they have a habit of producing some fantastic midfield players who are very good with the ball at their feet. The likes of Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri all epitomise the playmakers that Arsenal have produced and in Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere they have two more. This season both have shone at times and struggled at others but how do they fare when they go head to head.
Before we start it is worth pointing out that Cazorla (36) has appeared in 13 more matches than Wilshere (23) and as a result that does make comparisons a little harder. Nevertheless let’s start with possession and here we can see that Cazorla is generally better with his usage of the ball. The Spaniard loses possession with less frequency than Wilshere although the Englishman has been dispossessed less times. That is of course in less matches but with Wilshere still comes out on top with Cazorla losing the ball 1.72 times per match and Wilshere 1.35. The former Malaga man has won the ball more times than Wilshere in every single area of the pitch and for a player who is meant to be primarily focused on attacking that makes for impressive reading.
As more creative players you’d expect their passing statistics to be very good and indeed they are but unlike before they are extremely difficult to separate. Cazorla has played an average of 65.6 passes per game whilst Wilshere can only muster 51.3. The difference may be over 10 passes per game but it is worth remembering that when the two play together in the Arsenal midfield Wilshere will always have a more defensive role. This is because of the industry of Wilshere’s game that Cazorla just doesn’t have. Cazorla’s pass accuracy from open play is 87% which is 1% better than the 86% of Wilshere but the Englishman plays 1% of his passes forward. Cazorla plays more passes right and that is because he is often employed down the left wing which suggests he wouldn’t get as many opportunities to play forward passes.
Unsurprisingly Cazorla has produced more assists than Wilshere and he produces chances more regularly than his teammate. He has produced over three times as many clear cut chances as Wilshere but as mentioned before that can be largely explained by Cazorla’s more advanced role. However the similarity comes when you look at their chance creation frequency. Cazorla creates a chance every 35 minutes he spends on the pitch and Wilshere every 37 minutes – that’s remarkably similar and you wonder much better Arsenal would have done with a fully fit Wilshere as they’d have two players creating around 80 chances per season.
There’s a major difference in clear-cut chances but that’s down to their different positions and the same could be said for their goal tally however it’s pretty clear a fit Wilshere will match Cazorla’s creative and distribution output which is very welcoming for the Gunners.
Wilshere, because of the way he likes to carry the ball, has embarked on more dribbles per game (4.2) but Cazorla has sent over more crosses.
The two are tricky to compare primarily because they play in slightly different positions however you can see remarkable similarities in their stats as shown above. However when the two are used as part of Arsenal’s midfield trio they will be utilised in different roles and therefore will not always impact similar areas of the pitch. In addition to this it would be fair to say that this won’t be the most successful season that either of them will have at Arsenal.
Wilshere has been plagued by injury and will be using this season more just to get back to playing regular football again after a tough time out. For Cazorla this is his debut season in England and he will be hoping to make an even bigger impact once he has become fully acclimatised to the Premier League. For me they have both been overshadowed by the resurgent Aaron Ramsey but if all three start clicking next season, along with Mikel Arteta, than Arsenal could be a real danger.
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Student and aspiring football journalist. Keen interest in the global game across all leagues and levels. Chelsea fan. Twitter: @psharland55
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