UPDATED: Arteta V Wilshere: Are The Stats Really Lying? + Other Comparisons

I don’t think anyone who has seen Jack Wilshere play doubts his talent. Even anti-Arsenal hacks and pundits, and purveyors of ignorant, spiteful opinions in the Arsenalsphere rave about the youngster. From football legends like Wenger and Capello to common fans like this blogger, everyone has lavished undiluted praise on the next great English hope ever since he was a schoolboy.

So imagine my surprise when I compiled the following table using Opta stats from Eplindex (@eplindex). It shouldn’t be hard, just take a look.

Click on the image to view a larger version

It’s early days in Arteta’s Arsenal career but the Spaniard beats Wilshere on almost all stats. He makes more passes and with greater accuracy, creates a higher number of chances, losses possession less frequently, shoots more often and converts better, wins more duels, and has substantially superior tackling success.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t take anything away from young Jack. He’s earned every plaudit he’s received and more. With that in mind just ask yourself, how good a player Mikel Arteta really is? Was he really a panic buy?!

I made this comparison for two reasons. Firstly, I have observed, and noted in previous articles (here and here), that Arteta is compensating for the lack of technical contribution from the attacking players. His pass/min stat is outstanding and makes him the only Premier League player in the top 10 for most passes per game across the five major leagues in Europe. I’ll return to this while analyzing the wingers.

Secondly, I wanted to discuss the difference in common perception about the two midfielders. Arteta was discarded by many as a last-minute desperation-induced signing and has rarely received enough credit for the work he does. Add to it the baggage of expectations due to the similarities with Cesc and we have a player who isn’t seen as being good enough for Arsenal. Wilshere on the other hand is deemed the heir apparent to Fabregas and considered by many to be the best current English midfielder.

To an extent it could be a function of their individual playing styles. Jack has flair, flamboyance, and aggression. Arteta is more about experienced, understated efficiency. Wilshere has an “In your face”, ready to take on and beat the best attitude. Arteta is about dignified superiority.

Another factor is that the hype machine, probably based on highlights-worthy moments that stick in one’s memory, often blurs the difference between the current performances and potential. Wilshere could one day perform at a level that all the superlatives in the dictionary would fail to do justice to; but at present he lacks a vital ingredient, experience. Min/Loss of possession tells us the youngster tries an ill-advised dribble too many or often lacks that bit of control which gives the ball away (think back to his red card for that lunge against Zigic after a poor touch took the ball away). It’s a small detail but it affects the team’s performance, especially considering the position he plays.

Arteta also suffers from the fact that he can’t get into an outrageously gifted national side.

The point I am leading to is this – Popular opinion is off the mark more often than some would like to accept. There is a reason words like Good or Correct are not easily interchangeable with the word Popular. Of course, the depressing irony is that this little nugget is popularly ignored!

Arteta’s performances reinforce my ever-growing belief that there is an unmistakable method behind Wenger’s perceived madness, which, while not beyond scrutiny, certainly deserves greater respect.

Moving on, let’s explore what else the stats are telling us.

Surprisingly, Arteta tops the list for the frequency of chance creation. Since these players have rarely, if ever, figured in the front four of their respective sides, none of them is the main creator. In that context Arteta hasn’t been too bad, has he? Not quite Cesc, but still fab in his own way.

The former Everton man does lose possession a tad more regularly than the others. It could be related to the fact that he has relatively fewer options to pass due to the direct nature of the wide players at Arsenal. It’s also worth noting that Arteta had a 60.28 percent success rate in aerial duels for his former club last season. These are two areas where improvements can be expected.

Yaya Toure has been superb for City and has grown as a player with Premiership experience (has improved many of his own stats from last season). He’s on par with Arteta as far as passing and tackling success goes, and betters the Spaniard on the loss of possession figure. With 43 min/shot, Toure attempts a strike more often than the others so he can’t really be considered a defensive player either. Since City regularly play a technical player on the wings, it’s possible that the Ivorian benefits from having less of a passing burden and the availability of better angles.

Among the others, I am surprised there aren’t any stand out numbers for Modric given the general perception about his quality. Again, the point here is not to doubt the Croatian’s abilities but to put his counterparts in perspective.

Ramires has an astonishingly low pass/min figure. I double-checked the stats with another source because Chelsea pass the ball as often as Arsenal. It is possible their defensive players have a greater share of the possession. That’s another matter to be explored in the future. The Brazilian does have a pop at goal more often than most others. It’s quite possible that AVB has given him the task of getting on the end of chances created by their flair players. This might lead to a greater focus on making incisive runs instead of getting into positions to receive and make passes that keep the game ticking.

Charlie Adam’s passing accuracy is below the others but so was Liverpool’s when compared to the other top sides in the previous article. On the other hand, the former Blackpool man is winning an eye-popping 77 percent of his aerial battles. The experience of being in a relegation battle might be coming in handy.

Interestingly, Arteta and Adam show a noteworthy difference between the overall passing accuracy and that from open play. Both take a number of set-pieces for their sides whereas the other midfielders are closer on the two stats with fewer free-kick responsibilities. For Toure the two numbers are virtually identical.

Another oddity is that Wilshere, Yaya, and Modric – arguably the three most ‘gifted’ players in the lot – have noticeably lower chance conversion figures.

I will update this post with figures for through-balls, final third entries, and passes if I get the time tomorrow. As ever, there is more to be gleaned from these figures so am looking forward to your inputs.


I was able to compile these detailed passing stats to add to yesterday’s discussion. In the following image, FTE – Final Third Entries; FTP – Final Third Passes; DHP – Defensive Half Passes; AHP – Attacking Half Passes

Click on the image to view a larger version

As with the first table, it’s quite clear that Arteta has done very well across the board. He enters the final third more frequently than the others, makes more passes in that area and his passing accuracy in the attacking zone is exceptional.

More importantly, he isn’t playing in the attacking area alone as he is passing the ball in the defensive areas more frequently than all bar two others – Toure and Anderson.

He is also attempting a through-ball every 71 minutes which is faster than everyone except Wilshere. There is a bit of room in improving the accuracy as Arteta has only succeeded with 3 of his 10 attempts. But it must be noted that his success rate is better than Wilshere who, in fairness, is being measured over a longer period. Some others have better success rates with their through-balls but the percentages can be misleading as Anderson has only attempted two, while Ramires has managed 2 accurate ones out of five. Charlie Adam has been outstanding with 8 of his 11 balls finding a teammate. It is even more amazing if we consider that the Liverpool man is considerably behind the others in overall passing accuracy.

The FTE stat for Ramires is a curious one. As we’ve already seen, the Brazilian attempts a shot on goal more frequently than everyone else apart from Yaya Toure. But compared to the others he doesn’t enter the FT as often. Come to think of it, even the City midfielder doesn’t enter the attacking area that often. It is quite possible that both prefer to lurk just outside the final third in a defensive role and make a forward run only when a clear opportunity presents itself. It makes sense if we consider both these players would have significant defensive duties in their respective sides. It appears to be a fascinating example of excellent decision making that leads to a balance between attack and defence.

In conclusion, I just want to note that the idea was not to show that Arteta is better than Wilshere. I accept the various points made about the different roles of these players, effect of team tactics, impact of the number of games played, etc. And as I have clearly stated, there is no doubt in my mind Wilshere has the potential to be an all time great.

The point here was to highlight just how good Arteta has been for Arsenal. The other players serve as benchmarks of sorts. It’s obvious from the stats that the Spaniard is covering a lot of ground – he could not be leading the passing stats in the final third and attacking half, and doing well in the defensive half without racking up phenomenal yardage – and doing an excellent job of sustaining possession, creating chances, and tackling at the end of all that running. It wasn’t a meaningless platitude from a manager who’s lost the plot when Arsene called Arteta a complete footballer.

77 Responses to UPDATED: Arteta V Wilshere: Are The Stats Really Lying? + Other Comparisons

  1. zaragooner says:

    Thank you for finally wrote this article on Arteta and Wilshere. I don’t need to comment further, you have covered it all. I have said it once, and i will say it again, i will stick with Arteta in our first XI even after Jack is fit. Great one Desi.

  2. Steve says:

    Could it be that Arteta is playing in his natural position so his stats are better than Wilshere who is perhaps more suited to an advanced role?

    • desigunner says:

      I am not sure what Wilshere’s best position is. So far he hasn’t really played with his back to the goal so it’s hard to say how soon he’ll adapt to that.

      Agree with the point that Arteta has played in similar positions and seems a natural fit for the role. So that could be affecting the stats.

      • AP says:

        So, then is it possible to obtain progressive stats for the last year for Wilshere and see if there are any trends of progress as he gained experience, last yr being his breakthrough season, the start performance may be dissimilar to end performance – might be a story there.
        There is also the with/without Fabregas analysis to be factored, playing with Fabregas will mean he is not the main playmaking midfielder controlling the ball and may have a subordinate role.

  3. Northern Gooner says:

    One reason for the different valuation of the two you didnt mention is the one of nationality. English press, bloggs and other media have a tendancy to hype any english player with some flair and tecnical abillity. Wilshere is good of cource, but so is Arteta. So my argument is that shovinism and nationalism comes into the the picture and have a tendancy to blur the view of people

    • desigunner says:

      Good point.

      • richie says:

        Thats a very valid point but I’ve never watched Jack from an
        English perspective, only an Arsenal one. I think JW as with
        all English players is hyped by the press but I’m more concerned
        with what these stats actually tell us? If we were able to compare
        Diaby’s stats what would they show us? Diaby trying to play as a
        defensive mid would probably have terrible stats, played as an offensive mid given licence to carry the ball forward might show something else (If he could stay off the treatment table for long enough that is). Jack played without a back up defensive mid is
        one storey, perhaps the question we should ask is what stats will a fully fit Jack have when played alongside both Song and Arteta?

  4. Wrightywright says:

    The whole analysis is a bit distorted. Jack’s stats are averaged over a whole season, 35 games, whilst the others are only based on 8-10 games. Not surprisingly, these stats look better. Why don’t you look at the same players over 30+ games over last season and see if the difference is as pronouced as you’re making it here!? I’m not here to speak for/sgainst Jack, but more about the methods you used to draw your conclusions. Stats are just stats after all.

    • Steve says:

      These numbers are normalized on a “min per” basis so the number of games should not be that relevant..

      Having said that, I do agree that consistency over a longer duration is important. We will have to wait and see how Arteta plays over the course of the season.

      IMO, the key point that Desi is making is not that Arteta is better than Wilshere. The difference is perceived quality is incredible and these stats provide sufficient points to counter that.

      As you said, stats are just stats. They don’t prove anything, but a fact based discussion is rare.

  5. sammy m says:

    im not surprised at all by the stats,Arteta does his bussiness silently and does not go overboard eg he doesnt hold the ball for longer than necessary.He deserves much credit than he gets and Wenger knows how good a player he is

    • richie says:

      I don’t need the stats to tell me what a good player Arteta is! All I need to do is watch him play for us, his positional play is exceptional leading to him quietly picking up lose balls by intelligent interception. He may not be in the old Gilberto invisible wall league (Makelele apart was anyone?) but he gives Ramsey licence by dropping back to provide cover making Arron look good in the same way Gilberto made Patrick look great.

  6. gazza_5 says:

    Statistics can be made to prove anything, especially over an 8 game season! Jack played 35 times, at the age of 18/19, for a team that has many other creative players.

    Arteta keeps possession better, and has a higher pass completion rate than Wilshere, because Jack takes players on. Whereas Arteta was the attacking fulcrum of the Everton side last year, Jack was played with Cesc, Nasri, AA23 etc. Therefore he would not have been as responsible for creating as many chances as Mikel.

    I am not saying Arteta is a poor buy, but he is not top quality. The fact that we barely signed him in time before the window closed proves it was a panic buy. AW was obviously shocked by the 8-2 defeat at Man Utd, and brought in a few players that he would NOT have done had that result not occured.

    Jack Wilshere has the potential to become one of the best midfielders of his type in the world. Two years ago, after the match against Barca, the Barca players were full of praise for him.

    Articles like this are not particularly constructive, as you obviously have an “AKB” agenda. If Arteta was the answer, why did we not bring him in at the beginning of the window, rather than waiting until we were already out of the title race?


    • Steve says:

      Based on the fact that this article has nothing to do with Arteta’s attacking role at Everton, I could say you are obviously confused and clueless but obviously you won’t get the point as your obvious agenda blinds you. What an obvious waste of time.

      • gazza_5 says:

        Ooooh, did somebody have the temerity to disagree with you? Typical AKB, if someone disagrees lets get nasty. I do apologise that you did not see (or chose to ignore) the point that I was making, which is that Wilshere is an outstanding young talent, whereas Arteta is a very good player. I was not belittling him, I just believe that he and Benayoun would not have been brought in if we had not had our worst defeat in over 100 years.

        We have been linked with Arteta for 3/4 seasons, and I would have loved to have him then, but a few Everton fans that I know were more than happy to get £10m for him after a couple of injury ravaged seasons, which makes me believe it was NOT an AW master stroke, but more likely the board insisting he bring in someone to placate the fans.

        I have been crying out for AW to bring more experienced players, so I am happy with Arteta, but he is NOT the answer to all our problems.

        Over to you for some more abuse.

    • david hildy says:

      Simple answer for lateness of Arteta arrival, money surprise, surprise

    • Nepali Gunner says:


      I do agree with you on that Wilshere takes on players. That is the biggest difference between Arteta and Wilshere. However, your argument is flawed because Arteta was already scouted. Even though Wenger waited till the last day, he had Arteta as a potential transfer before. Yes, the 8-2 defeat did perhaps garner more urgency, but that does not mean that the players bought were picked out of the blue. The one thing I am very confident about is the meticulous nature of Arsene.

      And for the overall article, I have to say that I for one was pro-Arteta from day one, because I believe our midfield needed more defensive solidity. Everyone blamed our back four, but I do believe our midfield was equally guilty of defensive errors. Arteta provides that solidity, something that both Cesc and Nasri failed to do, and Denilson and Diaby were not suited to do either. Arteta has given Ramsey/Rosicky and Song more freedom. And that’s why he has been so good for us. I love the phrase Desi uses, “understated efficiency and dignified superiority.” Arteta has been the best buy so far, better than Gervinho. And I would say that he has become one of the key players of the team, and one of the first on the team sheet.

      PS: Wilshere would probably do well in an advanced role, but he definitely needs to improve on his finishing. That is definitely his weakness at this point.

    • T2T says:

      1. You are making assumptions on the timing of the buy… AA23 was bought at the very end of the transfer window a couple of years ago but no one has branded him a panic buy.
      2. Many, pundits and fans alike have, for a few years suggested Arteta as a good prospect for Arsenal. When we do buy him, it suddenly becomes a panic buy.
      3. I have seen every game Arteta has played for Arsenal. IMO, he started off slowly but has in the last couple of games shown his qualities. Arteta hasn’t the flair of many other but does is job quietly.
      4. When we, hypothetically, have all of our MF available, I’d probably start with Song, Arteta and Wilshere. Wilshere in the AM role of Cesc. Having the opportunity for quality back up in the likes of AR16 as well as AD2 and TR7 is great. I really like AA23 in the AM role. AA23 is a very intelligent and creative player who often makes the right decisions but the players around him may make another run. The way he and J-YP9 linked up against Bolton in CC was a joy to watch.
      5. Ramsey is developing nicely too, and it will be another nice headache for AW to make a decision, just like the PM4/ TV5/LK6 discussion and KG28/AS11. Up front, it seems like AW has decided on TW14/RvP10/G27. BS3 is the stand out choice as RB and WS13 is without doubt our #1.

    • richie says:

      Gazza 5 I take it your not a Gooner then?
      All Gooners know by now that the board (Read Kroenke) wouldn’t
      buy before we sold. Not because Arsenal FC didn’t have the money to buy players but because all players wages come from our ticket sales buget. Its why the board wouldn’t pay Nasri more, we sold and loaned out players so that when we bought in new players their wages could continue to be met from the ticket sales buget. Its been the clubs ethos for quite a while now. Arsene Wenger doesn’t do deals for players he gave the board a list of players he thought would benefit the club. Kroenke’s American trouble shooter does David Dein’s old job he goes out and buys or attempts to buy as he has no real connections in Football circles unlike Dein who had loads.

      • gazza_5 says:

        Usual bollox. I am a season ticket holder. Been an Arsenal fan for 35 years, so dont try to patronize me, dipshit.

        If all you say is true, then why does AW peddle the line that money is available? Do you believe he’s lying? Plus “all gooners” knew that Nasri and Cesc were going, but 2 days before we sold them, AW stated that if we sold them we could no longer be counted as a big club. Did he not know they were being sold?

        Dont be so gullible.

      • richie says:

        So you being a season ticket holder means I’m not? Idiot! And because your a season ticket holder that somehow means you get more info than me? Because as a ticket holder the club ain’t throwing out any more info to me. I live in Highbury and they could litterally throw it out to me.

        I personally know enough people who work at the stadium (and I don’t mean they sweep up) in administration. I do get info that ain’t out there in the public domain. I’m on first name terms with most of our first double winning team, they were all neighbours to me 40 years ago leading up to the 1970 (first silverwear in a decade) I was celibrating on the pitch that Tuesday night so your credentials are coming up short Dipshit!

        If only you could learn to read I never said Arsenal as a club didn’t have money or couldn’t buy any player. I said they can’t pay that players wages because according to Kroenke (You know the clubs owner season ticket hold you) all wages have to come out of the ticket sales budget. As a Gooner you should’ve known about the clubs self sustaining rules.

        Arsene Wenger was giving a direct message to our American
        that selling off our players wasn’t in the clubs best interests, after he said he’d be happy to see Nasri see out his contract, only for Kroenke to insist the sale went through. As a season ticket holder you don’t seem to be getting much info do you Gazza 5

  7. MOSEZ says:


  8. Northern Gooner says:

    Gazza 5: The reasons for buying Arteta on deadline day can be many, how can a random blogger (or you) know? AKB “agenda” – can you explain how showing a statistic comparison between two players can be seen as a defence of Wenger? Your anti-Wengerism is not very constructive

    • gazza_5 says:

      Its not anti Wengerism to question decisions made by the club that I have supported for 35 years. So many fans have only known AW as the boss, and cannot imagine life without him. Arsenal have been around for 125 years, and will be around long after the genius has gone.

      • RashGunner says:

        I don’t knw why can’t u ppl reason well. Arteta was bought after Arsenal qualified for CL and host of some other buys. and that has bn his main reason for joining us. who knows whether the d negotiation has bn on for long. Do u think u just wake up one day and say u want a player instantly? a lot of procedure. And most especially when it was not clear Na$ri would be staying or leaving

      • richie says:

        I’m 50+ and I’m a life long Gooner, I stood on the North Bank for the whole of the 60’s without us winning a single shinny mug never mind a cup. I’ve seen enough Arsenal managers but only one truth hold firm thoughout those years AKB = Arsene Knows Best!!!
        There will undoubtably still be an Arsenal when Arsene leaves and we as a club will be better for having had him as our manager. Those are the fact from this proud AKB Gooner!!

      • gazza_5 says:


        Bad buying policy then? Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool all bought early. They are all ahead of us in the table!

        Maybe if we had bought earlier, our current form would have started earlier? Or am I not allowed to express an opinion, despite the fact that I have spent £1,075 on a season ticket this year? How much have you spent?

        Nasri was ALWAYS leaving!

      • richie says:

        Gazza 5 are you really a Gooner?
        We sold before we bought because if we had bought before we sold then Kroenke would’ve had to put his hand in his pocket to pay out the wages. The ticket sales budget wouldn’t have covered it, same reason we’ve got players out on loan, its called a self sustaining plan and its been implimented at Arsenal since our move to the Emirates. Our season tickets £60+mil revenue pays our players wages. We as a club aren’t getting further into debt by buying expensive players and then over paying them. Nevertheless the stadium debt means we still have the 5th highest club debt in the prem.

  9. chigbo says:

    for me i prefare wilshere than arteta in the starting eleven.

  10. Dove says:

    Good analysis, but some major flaws:

    1. Number of games played vary: You can’t make such comparison unless you produce weighted mean values. So, it could be number of games played affect the various indicators used in the comparison. So, you could have made the analysis for the year 2010/11 as all players may have played similar number of games. Even in that case, comparing Arteta with Toure may be difficult. City has many mobile players which makes the pass completion rate for Toure to be more successful than Arteta who played at that time for Everton.

    2. Positions of players

    3. Role of players in the team: Yaya T assumes two different roles in various games.

    Jack would be a great player. It is not about media or nationalism. He has the talent that you could not find in many English players. Technically gifted! There is no English player who is as good as Jack when it comes to technical skill.

  11. i would prefer a midfield comprising of the the trio Song Wilshere and Arteta

  12. mike says:

    You cannot compare jack to artete in any way, jack has had only one good season for us and can possibly be the best for us in the future, but artete is a class player already though he join us late in his carrier he has the know how of the game and people like jack can only learn from him and get better for us. so lets stop comparing and hyping jack too early and give him the support he needs in class and experience like artete, rosicky etc becos you cant buy experience and thus what arsenal needs at the moment.

  13. I think eventually Wilshere will play behind the striker soon enough with Arteta and Wilshere playing together. Wilshere is still not a complete player while Arteta is. Arteta is quite calm and cool in the midfield and really does well. The buys Arsene made were good because the experience we gained has undoubtedly helped the team finish games!

  14. Nikhil Sasi says:

    Yes, the stats look impressive and Arteta adds more experience to Arsenal .
    However, For me Jack would still be ahead of mikel..
    What was most impressive of Jack during last season was his ability to recieve the ball and turn into space .
    He was the starting point in most counter attacks . Plus i feel given the start Arsenal had this season , Arteta was more cautious in his passing and tried to keep it simple more often than not , resulting in higher passing numbers, While Wilshere was willing to take more risks and trying to be more proactive .Even from a deeper position , he would almost always try to make something happen .Its natural that he would hit lesser percentages with the passing numbers.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      I think whatever you say is what is Desi pointing as inexperience . Trying to do something too often even when it is not the right moment, so it is not necessarily a good thing. He will get better with experience and be more effective and probably he will choose his moments better which will come with experience.

    • TT says:

      Yet (as Desi pointed out in the article) Arteta’s min/chance created is the best. It might be true that he plays the simple passes, and he is not a risk taker as others. However, so far, he’s the most prolific chance creator, even given how deep he’s been playing for Arsenal. That’s really surprising.

  15. Steve says:

    Reading through the comments, it seems too many people are taking the comparison very seriously.

    Desi, don’t wish to be critical but the headline has probably confused a number of readers. I can’t believe the main point of this post is to claim Arteta is better than Wilshere.

    • desigunner says:

      You’re probably right. I just put a heading that seemed intriguing but it could have given the impression I was trying to prove a point.

  16. Arsenal4 says:

    I think it’s a good post to see how Arteta has been valuable for Arsenal.
    But I don’t see it as Apple to Apple comparison. Arteta play in a more holding role (ala Xabi Alonso)and expected to do efficient pass thus his accuracy should be good.
    Wilshere is a tehnical player, I personally think he should play more like Gerrard, a box to box midfield yet do some flamboyant passing too. Wilshere should be better in defensive too given his speed and aggression.

    The true heir for Fabregas should be Ramsey – but he still needs to keep his consistency on as what he have been showed in Chelsa & WBA game (more of those killer pass please!)

    Having said that, I still think if Wilshere back to his fitness – it should be Wilshere-Ramsey-Song combo. Arteta will give a lot of assurance as back up and rotation. I think Wilshere, Arteta & Ramsey can pair up with each other – which great for Arsenal!

  17. bops says:

    well done sir.. great work.. hope Arteta gets more shots in as the understanding with the other members improve.. He has good technique and should cross 8 goals this season..

  18. Ole Gunner says:

    I’m one of the Arteta skeptics. My 3 problems with him are;

    1. He’s slow to think. As the ‘balancing midfielder’ it’s ok to be that if you have a quick thinking, quick executing player in the ‘Cesc role’. At this moment he slows our play down. The reason his stats are good is because he’s slow to execute, and we need to be quicker.

    2. He has this annoying habit of passing on marking responsibility to other midfielders. This has led to 2 or 3 goals in my memory. Even in the West Brom game he inexplicably did that a few times.

    3. He doesn’t drive into space and use pace if he’s got it. Too many times with the ball at his feet he’s unwilling to push the ball and run.

    I don’t dislike him as a player. I’d like him to sort these out.

    • Charlie says:

      I don’t agree that he’s slow but perhaps more on the Spanish wavelength than up with the Premiership pace. I don’t think you need to be quick necessarily in that role, you need the forward players to quicken the pace around the box. I haven’t noticed the marking problem but without meaning to increase the negativity i have noticed him give away a couple of needless fouls. One in particular when Sunderland scored from the free kick after he inexplicably put his hands up to block the ball was very strange. The question of taking the ball past players is something that seperates Jack from Arteta and i think you need to accept that he plays to his strengths. No one player is equally strong in everything but Arsene has found a great blend and Arteta is excellent at what he is told to do. He wins the ball and keeps the ball moving within the Arsenal midfield to make sure that the opposition are kept on the back foot chasing shadows. Denilson used to have the same job but always passed backwards.

      • desigunner says:

        Same here. I have noticed the fouls part – handball for the Larsson goal comes to mind immediately – but haven’t seen the marking problem.

    • desigunner says:

      I am speculating but something tells me Wenger has given Arteta the job of controlling things and keeping it tight. I thought in the past Arsenal has this problem of everyone rushing forward as soon an an opening appeared. And it didn’t help the balance of the side. So it could be that Arteta is not slow – although I can’t see him reaching Fabregas’ level – but more tactically oriented. After all he still creates chances more frequently than others.

      Will have to watch his closely. I haven’t noticed point 2. Some examples will help.

      3 is similar to 1. I believe he could be holding back so that the cover in front of the back four is not lost. Or it could be that he doesn’t have the pace. But in his role I am happy with this weakness if it exists as it should not be that big a deal given the wide players compensate for that.

      • richie says:

        I’m 100% with you Desi G I can see OG point about giving away needless fouls, but I think Arteta not being spectacular confuses people. His positioning is exceptional, and he’s the cover thats let Rambo shine. Too many in the past didn’t understand Gilberto’s strengths many times when players were rated he scored low because they didn’t think he’d done much.
        It was only when he was out injured and Patrick was struggling that his strengths were noticed. He was the invisable wall, Arteta might not reach those hights but he’s the midfield anchor we’ve needed.

  19. Charlie says:

    I like it. What it shows is how crucial Arteta is to the way Arsenal are playing this season and why he has played in almost every match. People criticise the tippy-tappy approach but it works for Spain and Barcelona who are the top two teams in the world. You don’t keep the ball unless you keep it moving and moving precisely. Jack does have some abilities that go unmentioned, he has ability running with the ball and dribbles are not mentioned. It also contributes to him losing the ball but the benefit is that by taking on his player someone needs to leave their marker to meet him and that creates space for teammates. You can’t argue with Artetas’ statistics though, he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves and while he plays for Arsenal he probably never will because it seems to pain any journalist to pay our club the slightest compliment.

    • desigunner says:

      Yes Jack does take players on better but he also loses possession more often while doing that. Perhaps with time he will get better at it.

  20. OBA says:

    No hype or sorts,
    This is the best iv read
    Here. Great work.
    You rock!

  21. DS says:

    Not entirely sure you need stats to prove that Arteta is making a big difference in a team which, up until now has been somewhat bereft of the qualities he brings; anyone can see the placid confidence Arteta seems to be bringing to the midfield and it’s bringing the best out of both Rambo and Song too. Jack is a special talent and you can see the way that he creates space and brings a bit of drive to the team that he is going to go further than most if he keeps working at it. As you said, both very good players and both fulfilling different roles at AFC.

  22. Youssef says:

    Last year, we had a midfield of Song + Wilshere + Cesc
    This year we have Song + Arteta (in the role of Wilshere) + Ramsey (For the role of Cesc)
    So it’s normal to compare the wilshere’s stat of last year versus Arteta’s stat of this year !
    In this position and given that the stat are given buy metrics /minutes played I find Arteta is doing well for the begining of the season. But I really want to see what would be the stats at the end of the season…
    I would also see the stats of Ramsey (this year) vs Cesc (last year). and Gervihno vs Nasri.
    This will tell us if the new system created by Wenger agter the selling and the buyings is good or not.
    Well done for your job, I really appreciated it !

  23. Jules says:

    Ludicrous, Wilshere is only 19 for God sake! At Arteta’s age he will have surpassed him in every way. In fact give it a year or so!

  24. Ole Gunner says:

    I think we still need a play maker with vision and the ability to flawlessly execute the difficult defence-splitting pass at the speed of thought.

  25. Jules says:

    P.s. that is not to say that Mikel isn’t pure class, as he quite clearly is!

  26. Jerus pius .o. says:

    Whether arteta or wilshere they both ‘re great players,wenger shouldn’t let the power-horse go to madrid.he should combine d power-horse with arteta ‘nd ramires.gunners till jesus comes.

  27. sam says:

    These are two very opposite players, and yes arteta is more experienced than Wilshere, and his natural position (arteta) he scores more goals and creates more assists and keeps possesion beautifully more than Wilshere. Wilshere on the other hand can handle anyone in football, he is like the only player who sees Xavi or Inesta as Nzonzi or just another midfielder, which i think is a much more admirable quality in a player, he also has the flayer and the markings of a great man. But instead of trying to compare one with the other, why don’t we agree and just be happy that Arsenal is better with both of them fit and playing. UP GUNNERS!!

  28. naija soccer says:

    Wilshere is definitely a top top player but Arteta isn’t an average or ‘panic’ buy by any means. Despite having to play more of a DM in his first few games, he still has a high rate of chance creation. He just calms that midfield so well and makes Ramsey and Song better. Its going to be almost impossible to drop him when wilshere comes back.

    Another thing this stat shows is that Yaya is one hell of a player. He’s definitely playing according to his worth. I can’t believe we turned him down when we had a chance to get him. Oh well , no point crying over spilt liquor. We do have a certain young boy called Jack so I m fucking excited.

  29. Chris says:

    I like stats and I like the effort to try and really appreciate what Atreta has brought to the team when Everton fans were saying good luck to him, we’ve had his best years anyway – and he doesn’t seem to have the dynamism he once showed for them –

    But he’s doing the Denilson role only much better obviously – looking through his individual highlights on youtube for different games, his time in possession is very impressive and he doesn’t just pass sideways.

    All the same, he’s more of a top quality watercarrier, whereas Jack is a game breaker who gives impetus to the team going forward.

    I think it will be interesting to see who plays and whether Arteta can dislodge Song, maybe when Jack gets back. i certainly think all the existing midfield can learn something from him.

    PS on the stats: The one I don’t understand is mins/ lost possession – if that is mainly going to be misplaced passes, how can Yaya and Charlie Adam and Modric have such good stats when their passing success rate is not obnviously better than average – Yaya according to the stats gives the ball away twice every three games – but his passing percentage is only 89% – which is one misplaced pass in 9. that woudl seem to mean he’s only attempting 6 passes per game????????
    Similarly Modric is apparently lossing possesion once per game but his pass success is only 84% or 1 in 6 misplaced. This is good for an attack-minded player but that would again only be 6 passes per game. None of this makes sense to me, i’m afraid.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      May be loosing the ball to tackles or failed dribbles rather than misplaced pass ?

    • desigunner says:

      Well the ‘loss of possession’ is a bit of a misnomer I guess. Misplaced passes are covered under passing accuracy and are not included in LoP. That stat simply calculates a ball lost due to a dribble that is overrun or from a loose touch that is not an intended pass. Hope that clarifies it to an extent.

  30. Northern Gooner says:

    We didnt turn him down, he couldnt get a work permit so he had to go to Belgium (or Netherlands). This was ofcourse back in the days before he became a star. He was training with Arsenal – but British immigation laws…

  31. john limani says:

    wishire is a complete player than arteta becoz he can defend as well as attack and he has pace and can drible the only thing left for him to learn is scoring,last season against barca he stood alone in midfield when everybody was lost including barca but we have apreciate arteta is doing good but with wishire our midfield is better than it is now

  32. Abhishek Jajodia says:

    Really impressive once again.

    I think Wilshere and Arteta, regardless of the very obvious comparisons, are very different players. Wilshere predominantly is a player with a massive attacking flair and good forward passing range. If you ever observe, Wilshere tries to pass the ball with his leading foot and doesnt quite have a favoring foot. As in, if his right foot meets the ball with his usual stride, he goes ahead with the pass with his right foot, even though visually that looks like a pass made inside out. This allows Wilshere less time on the ball (actually it gives him that surprise element while moving). If you remember the *epic* ArseLona Champions league match, the second goal was a direct result of Wilshere’s adept technique. On a very normal note, a player would receive the ball from Bendtner, shift to the dominant foot, and pass. This lad just opens the palm of the left foot and pushes the ball onward and forward. I might be wrong here but thats what I have been able to observe.

    Arteta on the other hand, makes for a very strong holding midfielder. You can see how he manages to distribute the ball very cleanly over the field, with no risk whatsoever. I also think that, he is a stronger finisher than a creator. He can come to the end of a build quite easily because of his experience in the position and has good anticipation skills. He has good set piece skills, but I’m still not sure about his corners.

    Alex Song is a more suitable forward running holder than Arteta. He has that killer through pass and those killer long balls you are able to see more often these days. Song again as a good distribution range, but is not the best of dribblers. He might not be able to get out of a sticky one on one as well an Arteta or a Wilshere can.

    Overall, the most ideal situation would be for Arsenal to have Wilshere as the Central creative mid, with Arteta and Song alternating as holders and false runners. Add an Aaron Ramsey when Arsenal are going to be more attack minded, and will have a killer midfield.

    • desigunner says:

      I see your point about Wilshere using the ball intelligently but I doubt his right foot is very good. Overall he does let the ball move across him better and can beat players simply by using the movement of the ball.

      Very interesting point about Arteta being a better finisher. But I would not blame him for corners as almost everyone at Arsenal struggles on that front.

  33. SomeRandomGunner says:

    Seriously Wilshere has ever used his right foot ? Do you have any links to a video where Wilshere is using his right foot other than a touch to change the ball to left foot ? And the goal you mention he used his left foot. Unless you mis-understood that Wilshere’s favored foot is right , he has the most favored foot in Arsenal.

    As you said because of his too much favored left foot he missed few assists and some more goals. Wilshere has lots and lots of strength but his right foot is certainly a weakness.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      Should have been a reply to the above comment.

    • Abhishek Jajodia says:

      I apologise for the framing. I meant that Wilshere is more of a stride player where he wrong foots the ball too often (atleast in my obervation). I dint really mean to say he’s a left leaning player. He just dispatches the ball a stride earlier than a player might expect more often than not.

      Once again, I might have been a bit confusing in the way I explained it.

  34. yemi says:

    I must say that I’m impressed with your industry which is remarkable moreso, when there is no “proper” football being played. I agree with your submissions , but I must point out the fact that Modric, though good, is overrated. I wouldn’t break the bank for him. I’m not a fan of stats but in this case, I would make an exception. We have wonderful midfielders and the earlier we realise this, the better for the team.

  35. cupsui says:

    too many comments to read!!
    absolutely quality analysis.
    Even before seeing the stats just watching him in the game its definitely the unsung things that arteta does that have been so valuable and why wenger calls him “complete”. As mentioned by other defensively he has been awesome espeically post blackburn when he was still a bit fresh.I think it was something jack possesses too so if they can both play we may just have an impenetrable midfield in Jakie boy, Arteta, and Song. Bring ramsey in when we can go for it a bit more and WOW!!

    there is a lot of talk about them being VERY different, but apart from the obvious (their feet) i think they are quite similar, which doesn’t mean they cannot be effective together cause two players who are amazing at keeping possession, chasing down midfield players, looking up and spotting a pass and can interchange for me cannot be a bad thing

    Desi you’ve done it again!

  36. james says:

    Beautiful article Desi, I recall that I said I was happy with our purchases, the experience bought in by the triumvirate of Gervinho, Arteta and Per has added solidity throughout our team.
    I do like the fact that you point out that Jack’s stats have been over a longer period but I also think you need to account for a change in the people who’ve played around both players as Cesc’s (to a larger extent) and Nasri’s presence on the pitch altered the type and amount of passes JW had to make since he deferred to both of them and also to Song most of the time. I also think it’d be nice to see their positional coverage stats over some time because I think one brilliant thing JW does is cover a lot of ground thereby taking some of the opponent’s focus away from other attacking players and adding to our strength.
    I personally think you sum it up beautifully by saying JW has that potential to be our flair player, our ‘Cesc’-lite AM who may develop eventually into a box-to-box player that can score and create goals through the breadth of the pitch. I think Arteta has come to give us solidity and the know-how for JW, AR and others to develop around. I also think we should hold off on how well Modric has done this season because he’s had a bit of a fall-off due to the failed Chelski transfer, he’s class but we also need to realise that the Spocks have never played up to our level in terms of statistical accuracy and technical brilliance.

  37. […] in this comparison of the top teams in England. And this is the updated article covering Arteta, Wilshere, and others. It now has numbers for through-balls, attacking half passes, etc. to go with the initial analysis […]

  38. sweeper says:

    i was thinking that if u could get the stats as they progressed through time and then picked observations for a string of say 10-15 games (or something where they havent been left out of squad for extened periods) for each player regardless of when they each got that string of games in the season. and used that to work out the assists,passes,etc/min. maybe that would be better to compare them.
    Since it’s arteta’s first season at arsenal, try compare the first few X apps for each player at the team they currently play in and it will give you a better idea on who was more effecive joining a team

  39. stefan says:

    Its not the quantity that makes wilshere great its the excellence he displays in tight situation ect. For example arteta is surrounded and probably has to pass back, wilshere is surrounded and he will pull off a marvelous piece of close control that opens the game up and he then passes the ball in an attacking situation. Stats will not make the distinction

  40. ranveer says:

    Yip stefan is spot on, furthermore it is THAT quality about wilshere wich makes him better than ramsey. I feel that ramsey is exactly like arteta just younger n shud play CM, not CAM behind the striker. Ramsey is good but u have to let the oppertunity arise for him to take advantage of, whereas wilshere creates advantages. Ramsey has been appauling this season, he never looks up to spot the pass like a playmaker shud, because of this he misses many oppertunities to put a player through on goal n instead holds up play cause hes not fast enough to keep up. cant wait for wilshere to take up CAM

  41. […] on the midfield in general (I’d touched upon this earlier in the season in different ways here, here, and […]

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