The Cleverley vs Cazorla stats that are sure to shock Arsenal fans

Tom Cleverley

Many would argue Cleverley vs Cazorla would be a no contest, but reviewing the Opta stats seems set to provide a few surprises.

It is fair to say that Tom Cleverley has found himself one of the most belittled professional footballers to have ever won a Premier League title.

The Manchester United midfielder had a very tough season at Old Trafford last year, finding himself out of the team for long spells and losing his England place ahead of the World Cup in Brazil. United and England fans weren't shedding many tears at his absence either, with both believing there are stronger options available.

In contrast to the 24-year-old is Arsenal's Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla, who despite not playing as well as he did in the 2012-13 season, still found himself a celebrated member of the Gunners midfield.

That is until recent comments by the Spain international hinted at a change in his future after the World Cup, amid rumours of an interest in returning to Spain with La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.

Such reports have been followed by apparent Arsenal interest in Cleverley, with the two clubs allegedly discussing the transfer of Thomas Vermaelen.

It would be easy to transfer bin Wenger's interest in the United midfielder, and many Arsenal fans would scoff at the thought of Cleverley coming into the Arsenal midfield instead of Cazorla, but a quick look at the two players'  stats below show some interesting conclusions:

  TeamPosGoalsShooting Accuracy %Goal AssistPassing Accuracy %AppsMins
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 4 36.99% 8 82.15% 31 2,597
Tom Cleverley Man Utd MF 1 33.33% 0 88.78% 22 1,579

The main area that Cazorla was expected to dominate Cleverley was in his attacking stats, and so it proves as the Spaniard has stronger goals, assists and shooting accuracy than the United man. Such figures can't be ignored, but what if Wenger was happy for the players he already has at the club to fill in for Cazrola should he depart, what if he was looking for someone that could play a little deeper? What wasn't to be expected, given Arsenal's outstanding passing percentages this season compared to United, was that Cleverley would boast a stronger passing accuracy than the former Malaga star. After Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla was the worst regular player at the club in terms of completing his passes.

  TeamPosWas FouledTackling Accuracy %Poss Lost AllDribble Past Player %AppsMins
Santiago Cazorla Arsenal MF 32 80.00% 528 50.52% 31 2,597
Tom Cleverley Man Utd MF 30 83.33% 166 55.56% 22 1,579

Where Cleverley really surprises is in his time on the ball. He drew nearly as many fouls as Cazorla despite playing nearly 1000 minutes less, yet has significantly stronger stats when it comes to keeping possession, and even more surprisingly, dribbling past players. His stronger tackling accuracy is less of a surprise, but it certainly indicates the United player could do a job in a deeper position in Arsenal's midfield, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere pushed further forward. 

It seems to suggest that there is a decent midfield player underneath all the criticism that has gone Cleverley's way, and given his age, Wenger may yet be able to coax that out.

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