Paulinho versus Wilshere: Who has been North London’s top enforcer?

Jack Wilshere

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho has had a solid debut season in England, but has he outperformed Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere?

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho joined the club from Brazilain side Corinthians last summer in a deal worth a reported £17m.

At the time, following Paulinho’s highly successful Confederations Cup campaign with Brazil, many pundits and fans alike believed then-Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas had picked up the coup of the summer.

Arsenal, on the other hand, only signed former midfielder Mathieu Flamini in that particular role and fair number of Gunners supporters perhaps looked at their North London rival’s new signing in envy.

But how good has Paulinho’s debut season been at White Hart Lane? Is he North London’s finest enforcer, or does that mantle belong to England international Jack Wilshere?

With the help of Opta Stats, all will be revealed:

  TeamPosBig Chance Created / appsTotal Tackle / appsOutfielder Block / appsBall Recovery / appsInterception Won / appsAccurate Pass / appsAccurate Fwd Zone Pass / appsDispossessed / appsAppsMins
Jack Wilshere Arsenal MF 0.30 1.35 0.17 5.30 0.43 44.78 32.39 1.30 23 1,692
Paulinho Spurs MF 0.16 2.00 0.16 4.28 1.00 35.88 21.64 1.60 25 1,971

According to the table, both Jack Wilshere and Paulinho have excelled in different areas.

England international Wilshere has created more chances, played more accurate passes on the whole and evidently he's more direct with his passes in the final third.

In contrast, Brazilian international Paulinho has made more tackles on average and more interceptions - suggesting he may excell defensively though this doesn't appear entirely true.

Arsenal's midfield general has also performed admirably in his defensive duties, averaging slightly more outfield blocks and being better positioned to make more ball recoveries.

The telling statistic and arguably the most important, however, is Wilshere's dominance when in possession.

Arsenal and Tottenham both preach possession football, and it's ultimately vital for the midfielders to protect the ball. In this aspect, Paulinho comes in second place as a result of less accurate passing and being dispossessed on average more times than his Arsenal counterpart.

When weighing up the table, 22-year-old Wilshere comes out on top in an attacking and controlling sense and the duo appear similar when performing defensive duties.

Verdict: Jack Wilshere

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