Stats: Who is the better option for England - Wilshere or Barkley?

Jack Wilshere Press Conference - 18/02/2014

England’s 2-1 defeat to Italy saw two substitutes unveiled but which of Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley is the better choice for Roy Hodgson?

Everton attacker Ross Barkley was brought on in the 61st minute to replace Danny Welbeck for England and was shortly followed by Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere in the 73rd minute to replace Jordan Henderson.

The 22-year-old Gunners midfielder is the more experienced at international and club level with 19 caps for his country to Barkley’s seven. However, Barkley may have taken the prime position with the Three Lions as the new golden boy, a status that had been thrust on Wilshere since the age of 19.

The pair will likely compete for a place in the team in this tournament, both attacking midfielders, gifted technicians and intelligent passers of the ball but following defeat to the Italians, which of the two should be Hodgson’s pick to start in the remaining group games?

Wilshere scored three goals and made four assists for Arsenal across 24 appearances in the Premier League this term in a season cut short by injury suffered during England’s friendly with Denmark earlier this year.

Barkley enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Toffees, scoring six goals across 34 appearances in the Premier League. The youngster scored twice as many goals as his elder compatriot but the Gunners man achieved a higher pass completion rate of 86.1% to Barkely’s 85% this term.

  TeamPosAccurate PassAppsMins
Jack Wilshere Arsenal MF 1,050 24 1,719
  TeamPosAccurate PassAppsMins
Ross Barkley Everton MF 1,047 34 2,286

Wilshere also made almost twice as many key passes per game, 1.4 on average to Barkley’s 0.8 per game and Wilshere also averaged significantly more passes per game, 50.8 on average to Barkley’s 36.2 per game and yet still achieved a higher rate of completion.

However, the younger of the pair was the more comfortable in possession, evidenced by his 2.4 successful dribbles per game to Wilshere’s 1.9 on average. However, Barkley was dispossessed more often, 1.7 times per game to Wilshere’s 1.2 times per game. Barkley drew slightly more fouls resulting in a greater number of free kicks awarded for his team, 1.9 per game to Wilshere’s 1.8 per game.

Defensively, Wilshere was the more effective, averaging 1.3 tackles per game to Barkley’s one per game. However, Barkley made more interceptions on average and more clearances as well as being dribbled past on fewer occasions than his Arsenal counterpart.

  TeamPosWon TackleAppsMins
Jack Wilshere Arsenal MF 27 24 1,719
  TeamPosWon TackleAppsMins
Ross Barkley Everton MF 26 34 2,286

Both were thrown on by Hodgson as the Three Lions searched for a goal and ultimately to no avail despite their efforts, while Barkley scored a greater number of goals for Everton this term, Wilshere proved the more effective provider at Arsenal and achieved a higher percentage of his shots on target across the campaign, 46% were on target to Barkley’s 38% this term.

  TeamPosOntarget Scoring AttAppsMins
Jack Wilshere Arsenal MF 8 24 1,719
  TeamPosOntarget Scoring AttAppsMins
Ross Barkley Everton MF 19 34 2,286

Overall, both are dangerous and capable players, what Wilshere may offer in slightly more experience, Barkley could counter with fearlessness and dynamism. Barkley is the more ambitious in front of goal, whilst Wilshere is the more efficient, and the Arsenal man is the more creative and reliable passer and provider.

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