Coming through the youth academy of Arsenal, Jack Wilshere impressed everyone from an early age and made his senior club debut at the age of 16 years and 256 days. Injuries not withstanding, Wilshere has come of age and is regarded as one of the best up-and-coming talents in England. Fellow Englishman Steven Gerrard has recognised his talent:
[quote]I think Jack Wilshere’s got the potential to become one of the best in the world, I don’t want to add any pressure. That’s unfair. But playing against him recently and in training, he’s a one-off. He’s a lot better than your normal Premier League midfielder. I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s got a bit of everything, he can tackle, get up and down the pitch, create a goal, score a goal, can pass. He can tick almost every box, and he’s going to get better and better. He’s only 21 and a fantastic talent. We’re all delighted he’s back and happy to play with him. I hope he brings out the best in all of us. He’s a top player and I hope he gives the dressing room a lift. And he’ll get better, and better than he is now. Which is a scary thought.[/quote]
Wilshere is also looked at by the Arsenal fans and management as a future captain and as someone who takes pride in wearing the cannon upon his chest. At a young age of 21, he has been entrusted by club faithfuls with the responsibility of taking the club back to the glory days. His recent quotes seem to justify all the accolades that he has been receiving:
[quote]It’s such an honour for me. Getting the No 10 shirt again at the Club means so much to me as I wore it all through the youth teams at Arsenal. It has a special place for all attacking or creative players. I feel proud to wear it now after some real Club legends have worn it, such as Dennis Bergkamp. Now I am even more excited about returning to action and honouring the shirt.[/quote]
With a detailed statistical analysis of Wilshere in comparison to fellow countrymen Gerrard and Frank Lampard, I will assess whether Wilshere has what it takes to be ‘England’s Future’ and ‘Mr. Arsenal’.
I. Appearances and Discipline:
Coming back from an injury, Wilshere made an impressive return to Arsenal’s First Team and made 25 appearances for the club, playing for 1696 minutes. These stats may not be very impressive compared to Lampard and Gerrard’s, but the club seems to be satisfied with the progress he made throughout the season, returning to action after a long lay-off.
It is no secret that Wilshere is very passionate and enthusiastic about the game and about the club. At times, he seems to get carried away on the pitch and commits some unnecessary fouls. As a result, he’s earned a yellow card every 565 minutes and was sent off at Old Trafford after a second booking in a match driven by high emotions.
Injuries concerns not withstanding, Wilshere never hesitates while making tackles, in his own half or while pressing ahead. He has won nearly 142 ground duels and 9 aerial duels. In all, he has attempted 269 tackles with a success rate of 54%. This particular statistic is better than Lampard’s and at par with Gerrard’s, considering the number of games played. It is impressive for a box-to-box player who is expected to emulate club hero Césc Fabregas at Arsenal and the legendary Gerrard for England.
III. Possession and Interceptions:
In regards to their respective playing times, all 3 players are have similar statistics in this particular comparison, with Wilshere marginally ahead in winning possession in the attacking 3rd. Gerrard has the most impressive interception rate with over 1.5 interceptions per game (an interception every 63 minutes).
IV. Passing Zone:
Wilshere and Gerrard lead Lampard in terms of overall passing accuracy, with Wilshere having the best passing accuracy in the attacking half. Gerrard leads the crossing stats, having put an overwhelming 51 successful crosses into the box.
This analysis is a testament to the credentials and potential of Jack Wilshere. It may also be due to the playing style of Arsenal, who like setting the tone of the game with their accurate passing and build-up to the ‘perfect’ goal. This, however, doesn’t undermine the talent of Jack Wilshere. With age on his side, he can only get better and better, which, in the words of Steven Gerrard is a ‘scary thought!’
V. Creativity and Attacking Zone:
Being the best attacking mid-fielder in the league, it is not surprising that Lampard is the clear winner in this comparison. Having netter 15 times in this season, Lampard is Chelsea’s highest-ever goal scorer and the only midfielder Premier League history to have scored 150 or more goals. He is also second in the Premier League’s all-time assists table with 91 assists in 16 years. Wilshere and Gerrard, however, have a very good rate of creating chances. It may be too early to predict greatness for Jack Wilshere but the signs are there. It would be a huge boost not just for Arsenal, but for English football if he can live up to the ‘hype’ and emulate fellow countrymen Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. With nearly 100 appearances for Arsenal, it is time for him to take the center-stage and guide Arsenal to glory. As for the fans, my only advice – Be patient and do not put the weight of the world on his shoulders. Let him enjoy his game and do what he does best. He will deliver! Please note that the comparisons and inferences are based purely on statistics, which may not always correlate with the actual performances of the players. Some of you may have a different point of view or may look at the statistics differently, so feel free to share it with me here or on twitter ( @SilverHawk_24 ). Until next week, this is me signing off, hoping for another clinical performance from the 3 players in the pre-season tour matches.