The careers of two Arsenal youngsters are remarkably similar in trajectory and after a sensational season for Aaron Ramsey, the clues all point to his teammate Jack Wilshere emulating his form next term.
The 23-year-old Welsh midfielder had just broke into the Gunners’ first-team when Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross’ horror tackle broke his leg on February 27, 2010. He was 19 years old and his career was in danger of ruin but the former Cardiff youngster recovered to reclaim his place in the team which, initially, saw him subjected to criticism as he was scapegoated for some poor performances.
Flash-forward to 2013/14 and Aaron Ramsey was undoubtedly Arsenal’s best player and probably one of the most complete midfielders in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, England starlet Jack Wilshere had also broken through the ranks at the Emirates as a teenager – after making his debut for the Gunners aged just 16, it just so happened that he was making his first Premier League debut in 2010, at the same time Ramsey was recovering from his leg break, in August of that year, aged 18. Wilshere made 49 appearances for Arsenal the following season in 2010/11 but failed to make any the next term, after suffering a stress ankle fracture that would see him sit out the next 17 months of his career.
The stories of the two players are remarkably similar as are their ages and positions as well as their status with the club and the manager at Arsenal but the parallels don’t end there.
Wilshere is one year Ramsey’s junior and, after returning from his long spell out injured last season, this term was his next ‘full’ season although he did miss three months at the end of this season. All the signs point to Wilshere being capable, in fact most likely, to emulate the resurgence that we saw with Aaron Ramsey this season, in 2014/15.
In 2012/13, Ramsey made 21 starts for Arsenal, scored one goal and made two assists – not exactly a mouthwatering tally – but Wilshere made 19 starts this season, scored three goals and made four assists in the Premier League (remember the year difference in age and the extra season Ramsey has played on Wilshere).
Ramsey’s pass completion rate was 88.2% and Wilshere’s this term was the slightly lower 86.1% but Wilshere made slightly more key passes this term with his 1.4 per game on average to Ramsey’s 1.3 per game in 2012/13, and they averaged roughly the same number of passes per game with Ramsey’s slightly higher 53.7 per game to Wilshere’s 50.8 per game. Wilshere also completed more successful dribbles than Ramsey, by quite some distance, the No.10 averaged 1.9 dribbles per game this term to Ramsey’s 0.9 per game that season.
Wilshere was fouled almost twice as much as Ramsey, effectively winning twice the number of free kicks for the Gunners, 1.8 per game on average to Ramsey’s 0.9 per game in 2012/13. They were dispossessed with the exact same frequency, 1.2 occasions per game on average, but Wilshere turned over possession twice as often as Ramsey, 1.7 times per game to Ramsey’s 0.6 per game on average.
Defensively, in 2012/13 Ramsey was seemingly more focused defensively, making an average of two tackles per game to Wilshere’s 1.3 per game this season but offensively, Wilshere’ shooting accuracy was 47% this term, nearly half of his shots hitting the target, compared to Ramsey’s 40% accuracy in 2012/13.
Overall, it is quite astounding to see how Ramsey’s stats from last season compare to Wilshere’s from this term – given their very similar status at the club and their sufferings with injury. Some of the key differences in the numbers can likely be attributed to the different roles they place in the team with Ramsey more of a box-to-box midfielder ad Wilshere deployed as an attacking playmaker or even winger this term with more of a free role and a creative responsibility to Ramsey’s defensive responsibility but, nonetheless, the stats all suggest a strong possibility of Jack Wilshere undergoing the same kind of jaw-dropping renaissance we saw in Aaron Ramsey this season.