After Aaron Ramsey’s impressive performance against Chelsea on Saturday, I thought it’s worth to take a look at how the Welshman has progressed this season compared to last season’s breakout player, Jack Wilshere. It’s not a fair comparison, considering that Wilshere played almost the full season barring an injury out here and there. Therefore, I only took into consideration the first 9 games of the season.
For Ramsey, the games from season 2011/12 are as follows;
Newcastle (A), Liverpool (H), Manchester United (A), Swansea (H), Blackburn (A), Bolton (H), Tottenham (A), Stoke (H) and Chelsea (A).
And for Wilshere, the games from season 2010/11 are;
Liverpool (A), Blackpool (H), Bolton (H), Sunderland (A), WBA (H), Chelsea (A), Birmingham (H), Newcastle (H), Wolverhampton (A).
Of course, the comparison are only a relative one and may not be entirely reflective of the player’s capability. There’s the different opponent, different playing side, different team confidence, etc. However, what I think it shows, is how both players could be vital to Arsenal’s chances of winning trophies. The below table is the summary of several aspects their contribution/performance in those 9 games
The statistics are a clear indication of the role both players assumed for Arsenal football club. Last season Wilshere was played more as a second holding midfielder, though he gets to venture forward to support the attack when the situation calls for it. Both have almost similar successful pass completion percentage, it shows that both are equally comfortable on the ball and aware of their surrounding and can pick the right pass when required. Their assist number reflects this attribute as well.
Being played further back, Wilshere has certainly adapted well. The 2.22 interceptions per game certainly shows this. The attribute comes with the ability to read the game in a way that’s not too dissimilar to the pass completion stat. This one, in a defending sense. The one thing he could learn from Ramsey is perhaps in terms of tackling.
Of course, Wilshere has always been thought of as an attacking midfielder. His position last season was due to personnel problems (injuries) than his capability to play that role. That he managed to adapt to it and made himself virtually indispensable to the team. The same chord could be struck for Ramsey’s rise.
Though, to be fair, Ramsey was on the rise before. Only to have his improvement scuppered by an insufferable thug. The chances this season has come again for him. The irony of Wilshere himself being injured as the turning point to help Ramsey gain first team games would not have been lost on the English midfielder. That, and the personnel problem (departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri).
What we saw in last season’s win against United at home was how these 2 can combine and play together in the same eleven. They dovetailed perfectly and shared the responsibility of going forward and defending. The bigger question remains the long term fitness of both players. Eduardo would’ve looked at Ramsey’s current situation and be a little jealous. The return from the double fracture has been one long and arduous road but we are seeing signs of him returning to his best form.
The situation with Wilshere interestingly is quite the same. Even though, the injury is not as bad as the one Ramsey suffered, to be out for 8 months is a very long time in a football season. We are unsure if Wilshere will be able to return and hit the same heights he achieved last season or become another Abou Diaby, undoubtedly talented but perennially hampered by injuries.
Another 4 more months till we find out all that. In the mean time, Ramsey has regain the lead in the race between the two on who reaches the peak of their powers with Arsenal Football Club first.