It is now three months since Roy Keane branded Jack Wilshere ‘the most overrated player on the planet’ after he captained Arsenal in a Europa League loss to Ostersunds.
As it turns out, England manager Gareth Southgate may ever-so-slightly agree with the man who stamped on him in their 1995 FA Cup semi-final replay.
Southgate has refused to believe the hype after leaving Wilshere out of his squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, opening himself up to scathing criticism.
Jack Wilshere’s last appearance for England was the Euro 2016 last-16 defeat by Iceland
The Arsenal midfielder has been left out of Gareth Southgate’s 23-man World Cup squad
It prompted some supporters to ask Southgate where the creativity would come from in the Three Lions midfield. Who will be the pass masters? The players with that X Factor?
The statistics, in fact, suggest not all is lost. On paper, Southgate has struck something of a good balance among the players selected, despite leaving a talented playmaker in Wilshere behind.
In Dele Alli, for example, he gets goals and assists. In Eric Dier, he gets a decent enforcer on his day. In Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he gets a physical presence.
Even in Fabian Delph, there is versatility following his season at left-back for Manchester City. The danger, of course, is if England suffer a 0-0 stalemate in Russia, then some will say ‘if only Wilshere was there…’ but Southgate decided he had enough to work with.
Gareth Southgate phoned Wilshere on Tuesday to break the news before the announcement
The numbers suggest that England may not miss Wilshere’s creativity in Russia next month
Wilshere tweeted to express his disappointment but wished England the best in Russia
|Season||Minutes Played||Chances Created||Per 90|
We know what Wilshere can do. The midfielder himself, whether wise or not to announce it, tweeted to say ‘I should be in the squad’ after it was confirmed he would not be named.
Yet unfortunately for him, his form tells a different story from what has been a difficult season for Arsenal.
The bottom line is, Wilshere’s chances created per 90 are at an all-time low for a campaign in which he has played 700 or more minutes.
Southgate also had concerns over Wilshere’s fitness, especially after a knee issue led to his withdrawal ahead of England’s friendlies against Holland and Italy in March.
It means he has not been capped since Euro 2016 and the man in charge was never able to take a closer look at how he would work in his system.
Fitness and injury issues are nothing new but the timing has been bad. Compared to the midfielders selected by Southgate, Wilshere made the fewest Premier League appearances this season.
Chelsea midfilder Ruben Loftus-Cheek tackles and intercepts far more than Wilshere
|Passes per 90||61.3||49.4||N/A||64.4||63.8||63.3||64.6||33||N/A|
|Tackles per 90||1.1||1.2||N/A||1.2||1.6||1.8||2||2.6||N/A|
He has played just 20 games and started only 12 for Arsenal. The main criticism of Southgate’s call to leave Wilshere at home is that the 26-year-old was capable of bringing the creativity. England, in fact, appear to have that well covered.
When it comes to chances created per 90 minutes, Wilshere is on 1.14. Those who have averaged more include Alli (1.94), Jesse Lingard (1.28) and Loftus-Cheek (1.25).
The Chelsea midfielder, who spent this season on loan at Crystal Palace, tackles and intercepts far more too, suggesting his inclusion should excite England fans.
Loftus-Cheek also averages 5.71 dribbles a game compared to Wilshere’s 4.63, although that does, to his credit, outshine Alli and Lingard.
Wilshere’s passes per 90 are bang in the middle at 61.3 – less than Dier, Delph and Jordan Henderson but more than Alli, Lingard and Loftus-Cheek.
Wilshere has not hit the form required to go to Russia and will have to watch from afar
|Passes per 90||37.9||71.6||46||86.4||34.7||83.2||61.3|
|Chances Created per 90||1.94||0.48||1.28||1.04||1.25||0.57||1.14|
|Dribbles Attempted per 90||3.97||0.54||3.11||0.62||5.71||1.7||4.63|
|Dribbles Success Rate||33.59||76.47||44.44||53.33||61.34||90.91||73.77|
|Tackles per 90||1.39||1.94||1.48||2.11||1.01||2.37||1.14|
|Interceptions per 90||0.58||1.53||0.44||1.28||1.06||1.55||0.61|
Yet Southgate has said he feels he has enough in his England squad to get what he wants, even when chasing a game with half hour to go.
Sometimes, Wilshere can be handy in those situations, but he has simply not hit the form required to go to Russia. Wilshere will watch from home instead.
There will always be a ‘what if’ scenario surrounding his lack of inclusion, particularly if England fall flat. Based on this season and the statistics, though, he may not be as missed as some suspect.
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.