West Ham United midfielder Jack Wilshere has been ruled out for an estimated six weeks after requiring surgery on a persistent ankle injury on Monday, having missed the Hammers’ Premier League trip to Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.
The ex-England International’s serious ankle problem was first detected in training last week and is just the latest in a long line of injury set-backs that have plagued his career.
Before picking up the knock, Wilshere had been a central part of Manuel Pellegrini’s first competitive month at the helm in East London, starting every league match in the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 92 years.
But, now that he faces the best part of two months out, just how much will the regular starter and summer signing from London rivals Arsenal be missed by the Irons? Today, we attempt to tell you by carrying out a tactical analysis of his short Hammers stint, this far.
For the first phase of our analysis, we are going to crunch the key statistics from the four starts in four PL games that Wilshere has accumulated in 2018/2019, his first permanent season away from the Emirates Stadium.
Here, we have adopted the help of our good friends over on premierleague.com to use two graphics to show the key stats of Wilshere, in attacking, defensive, team and discipline areas.
First, we can see from the attack section that the central midfielder has offered very little going forward, failing to score a goal of any kind, and registering just one shot.
If it’s any consolation, this effort was on target, which is a positive, but overall, considering that the ex-Gunner has been predominantly used as a No10, these are poor stats.
If we shift our eyes over to team play, we do see some numbers on the board, an impressive 169 passes across the four outings, which averages at about 42.5 per time.
14 accurate long balls also catches the eye, however, once more, we are drawn to the lack of assists, big chances created and through balls, for a creative midfielder, these are elements that Wilshere must improve on, upon his return from injury.
The two-time FA Cup winner has never been one to shy away from the odd tackle and confrontation on the pitch, so it is no surprise to see that he has picked up a costly two bookings, at an average of a yellow card every other game, along with six fouls committed in the discipline section.
There is perhaps evidence, in the defensive box, that, when asked to track back and help the defence out, Wilshere has risen to the task, as this is his best area, in terms of the stats.
He has put in seven tackles this term, just over 50 per cent of which he was won, as we can see, in addition, intercepting seven passes and balls of the opposition.
22 recoveries is a more than respectable figure for a player, who is not naturally defensive, while Wilshere will also be pleased to have come out on top in more duels and aerial battles than he has lost, additionally, getting the better of 10 50/50s.
In conclusion, the stats clearly tell us that, whilst some of the poorer attacking figures even themselves out when we look at his defending, Wilshere’s performance is far from where he would have wanted it to be, at this stage of the campaign.
It is easy to criticise the displays of the England hopeful individually, however, compared to his teammates, are they made to look better and are his stats indeed, the pick of a bad bunch at London Stadium?
To find out, we are going to compare them with the only other West Ham central midfielder to have played near as many minutes and made the same number of appearances as him in the league, fellow summer transfer window arrival Carlos Sanchez.
The Colombian has still spent less time on the pitch than Wilshere, but can match his four showings, albeit only two of them were starts, compared to his comrade’s four.
Once again, using graphics from the Premier League’s official website, we can show you the same stats from Sanchez, and immediately, see that he has been more ambitious in attack, registering three shots.
The Deadline Day signing also has more accurate long balls and through balls, although will always find it hard to match up to the overall pass figures of Wilshere, given his minutes, totalling up 111.
Sanchez also possesses a better disciplinary record, making just three fouls and is yet to pick up a card, which brings us onto our final section, which is the defensive one.
The Colombia man is more defensive naturally and has a better tackle success rating than Wilshere, with 75%, he also trumps him in terms of blocked shots, but his new teammate reigns supreme when it comes to every other defensive stat.
Although, in places, it is an unfair comparison due to the gulf-in-minutes played, there can be little denying that had Sanchez played the amount Wilshere has, statistically, he would, in all likelihood, rank better in most of the areas.
As we summarise, today’s statistical tactical analysis has taught us that Wilshere will be more of a physiological rather than a physical miss for the Hammers, taking into account his status, with more than enough options waiting in the wings and Pedro Obiang already proving himself an ample replacement.
In fact, and despite the frustration of yet another injury in his disrupted life as a professional footballer, it may do the boyhood Hammer some good to get away from the game and recover, hopefully, improving a great deal on these stats after his return, which is being tipped to be in early-to-mid November.