Last season saw Matty Jarvis become Wolves’ first England player since Steve Bull back in 1990. For many of us Wolves fans, it was a proud moment for our player to showcase his skills and abilities to the nation. We all know how good Jarvo has been over the last 4 years, with his blistering pace and sublime skill to out-do even some of the most experienced full-backs in the league.
However, thirty miles up the M6 in the nearby Potteries, there have been some rumblings of discontent amongst the locals as to why their flying left winger, Matty Etherington, hasnt been called up by Mr Capello.
If we look at the table below we can see that the two players are fairly even when it comes to their performances last season.
It is fair to say that the City fans have a point. Both Jarvis and Etherington finished the season with 6 assists each with Etherington just edging out Jarvis with 28% of his crosses successful compared to 20% from Jarvis. Although both teams like to get balls into the box, Jarvis got more crosses into the box over the course of the season with 345 compared with just 259 for Etherington. This equates to 9.3 crosses per game for Jarvis and just over 8 crosses per game for the Stoke wide man.
If we look at goals scored for both wingers, Etherington scored 5 goals compared to just the 4 for Jarvis. Considering Etherington featured in 32 of Stoke’s games last year as apposed to 37 for Jarvis the stats are stacking up quite nicely in the favour of Matty Etherington. The only things favouring Jarvis at the moment are his pass completions and the amount of shots he gets in on goal. Both stats he comes in ahead of Etherington but I believe there are some un-tangible factors that make Jarvis the better winger.
It can be said that Stoke enjoyed a successful season last year. Yes, mid table is a success for a team like Stoke, but their main success was getting into Europe. A fantastic achievement! Tony Pulis has brought in hard, seasoned professionals and likes his team to have a no nonesense approach to games which has got them a reputation, which in my opinion is unjust. They can also play the ball around a bit, and this is where Matty Etherington comes into play. Etherington has got good pace and links up well with his fellow winger Jermaine Pennant. My point is, when you have two flying wingers it can be seen as harder to defend against becausethe defending team cannot ‘double up’ on one particular winger. This was evident on a greater scale when Man United out-did their city counterparts with exhillarating wing play from Young and Nani. Even one of the best defences in the league last year couldnt cope with them.
Now im not saying for one minute that you can directly compare Pennant and Etherington with Young and Nani, but the footballing priniciples are the same. When you have two wingers in full throttle it is harder to stop them when you have just one like Wolves did for large parts last season.
When you compare this to Wolves and Jarvis, its a totally different story. For large parts of the season we played with one winger. Stephen Hunt was out for large parts, Kightly was a write off, and Foley and Guedioura jut aren’t wingers in my opinion. When teams see Wolves’ team sheet at 230pm on Saturdays the team talk must have been simple for the opposition manager, ‘Double up on Jarvis and we snuff out their attacking play’. My point is, for Jarvis to get the statistics he did, seens as he was arguably Wolves’ only real attacking outlet at times, is one massive achievement for a struggling team.
For me, Matty Jarvis can really kick on this season and get back into the England squad. We will see an even better Jarvis this season as he is going to be accompanied by one of either Hunt, Kightly or Hammill on the opposite flank. All three will hug the touchline when needed and be the ‘other’ outlet for Wolves allowing Jarvis to run a mock down the left flank. But rest assured, Im sure all Stokies reading this would rather their man in an England shirt!
Here’s hoping more players from the less fashionable teams in the league, like Wolves and Stoke, can get their players into the England squad and prove that this league isnt just about the top four or five clubs when it comes to England selection.