The box to box midfielders: comparing Ramsey, Wilshere and the Ox

By Walter Broeckx

Having analysed the defensive midfielder I thought the next step would be the box to box midfielders. As they are called now.  In my days these were just midfielders who run a lot, but that is the modern times for you.

I put Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in this category and added Oxlade-Chamberlain. Now I know that he usually plays more on the right hand side when he starts but I put him here because Wenger has said that his future is more in the middle and also because otherwise things get too difficult when I have to put him in with the other attackers.

The numbers:

Aaron Ramsey Jack Wilshere Oxlade-C
29 Games Played 14 23
2009 Minutes played 732 1491
1641 Passes 524 709
86% Passing accuracy 84.2% 81.2%
82.5% Passing accuracy opp. half 81.6% 78.5%
130 Duels won 65 128
161 Duels lost 60 113
44.7% Duels won % 52% 53.1%
18 Aerial Duels won 3 8
21 Aerial duels lost 6 16
46.2% Aerial duels won % 33.3% 33.3%
145 Recoveries 62 91
36 Tackles won 8 20
22 Tackles lost 2 6
62.1% Tackles won % 80% 76.9%
22 Clearances 2 6
3 Blocks 1 3
32 Interceptions 5 25
0 Penalties conceded 0 0
29 Fouls won 21 11
23 Fouls conceded 10 14
6 Yellow cards 4 4
0 Red cards 0 0
6 Goals 2 1
334.8 Minutes per goal 366 1491
17 Total shots on target 8 8
30 Total shots off target 4 13
36.2% Shooting accuracy 66.7% 38.1%
3 Successful crosses 0 13
33 Unsuccessful crosses 11 54
8.3% Successful crosses % 19.4%
6 Assists 1 1
47 Chances created 16 35
5 Offsides 0 1
0 Penalties won 0 0

So when we look at the total minutes played we see that Ramsey played most followed by The Ox.  Jack Wilshere played only half of the minutes The Ox did and only one third of what Ramsey played. Thanks to that idiot from United that found it necessary to kick his ankle to pieces once again. It almost completely ruined Jack’s season that wasn’t too bad up to them I though.

Passing accuracy was the highest for Ramsey (86%) closely followed by Jack. The Ox a bit behind but that can also be down to him playing as a right wing a few times and a different position can have an influence. In the opposition half the numbers drop a bit but the order of the players does not. Ramsey the best with a very respectable 82.5%.

When we look at the duels won in percentage terms we see that the order is reversed. This time The Ox has the best score (53,1%) with Jack very close behind him. Ramsey almost 9% behind The Ox in this stat. So it looks that The Ox is the best in duels of these players. I must say a bit of a surprise for me. But good for The Ox of course.

When we look at the aerial duels we see that Ramsey is way above the rest. With head and shoulders one could say. In all meanings. Ramsey being bigger makes it easier of course to win those duels. And so he scores 46% and the others only 33.3%.

When it comes to recoveries we see that Jack has the best score with around seven recoveries per 90 minutes. Ramsey has one less and The Ox has two less recoveries per 90 minutes than Jack.

Looking at the tackles we see that again Jack has the best score. He won 80% of his tackles. Not that he tackles that much but when he does he usually comes out as the winner. The Ox has a score of 76.9%. Ramsey a bit behind the two with only a 62.1% successful tackles made over the season.

Judging the clearances made by these three players we see that Ramsey has made the most of them this season. Jack and The Ox not that good in clearing a ball in our own penalty area it seems.

The score for the interceptions that The Ox won is just in front of Aaron. Not much difference between the two players. Jack limping a bit behind on this.

When we look a the fouls sustained and made we see that The Ox is the  only one that committed more fouls than he was fouled. But with the way the PGMO judge Arsenal players this could be just down to bad refereeing.  What is a worry is that Arsenal players are booked quickly. Both Ramsey and The Ox get a booking every 3-4 fouls they commit. The situation for Jack is even worse. He gets a yellow card every 2.5 fouls.  Yet when he gets kicked off the field it isn’t even called a foul or a card is given….. oh well…

Let us move on to the more attacking stats: goals and how long it takes to score.  Ramsey scored a goal every 334.8 minutes. Jack was second with a goal every 366 minutes. The Ox is still not scoring enough. Only one goal in the PL, albeit an important one. But this is really amazing for me; why The Ox doesn’t score more goals.  But as he is young this still can come of course.

When we look at the shooting accuracy we see that Jack has the best shots on target ratio with 66%. The Ox and Ramsey way behind with a score between 38 and 36%. Some shooting practice maybe before next summer might be on the cards. Ramsey can do better as we know from the season before.  The others must up their scoring rate.

The Ox is by far the best crosser of the ball of the three of them. Probably because he has been playing on the right a bit more than the others. But the percentage of successful crosses are way too low for all of them. Going from 19.4% to 0%.

Ramsey had 6 assists last PL season and Jack and The Ox each one. Also something that should be better next season.

And when it comes to creating chances we see that each of the players create more than 2 chances per match. So the low numbers of assists might be more down to the other players not finishing the given chances.

All three players were not involved in penalty incidents. They didn’t caused one or didn’t get one at the other end.

So who was best? Well that is difficult to say as they all were best in some things and dropped points in other things. But looking at those stats and looking at the differences I think it might help Wenger in thinking which team to pick for a specific match.

My prediction for the future: I think these three players are all vital for the future in the next few seasons. Each with their qualities and things they can improve on. I think there still might be some room for improvement with all the players from this article. It will be down to them to work on their weaknesses and the one that can do this best will be the one that gets more matches. And hopefully fewer injuries.

The books

23 Replies to “The box to box midfielders: comparing Ramsey, Wilshere and the Ox”

  1. Santi has played there for last 20 games or more. Might be worth including him. Just a suggestion.

  2. 3 wonderful and very different players.

    I’d bet my house on each one of them improving again if injury free, and in Wilshere and the Ox’s cases I think the improvements will be pretty big. Both look almost certain to me to get more goals next year. I’d add Ozil to that,too.

    So, very exciting. It’s just a shame, and so wrong, that, as we all know, the injury threat is higher than it should be.

    Seeing what Wilshere did in the final weeks of the season, English football would have to be sick in the head somewhat not to offer decent protection to the guy who is clearly the jewel in their national team.

    I hoped a few years ago that, with a number of players in the national team, this would change the perception of us and more importantly lead to a bit more protection (self-interest being something you can normally rely upon), but that hope died with the tackle on Wilshere and the pathetic downplaying of it later on.

    I have everything crossed for Wilshere next year. I think it’s possible that even 20 games could be enough to force a re-assessment and make it unignorable how unusual a player he is for a british player and how important he is for the future. That ought to slightly improve the chances of people not putting in ridiculous late challenges on him. It’s getting to those 20 games in one piece that is the problem.

  3. rich,
    Very true on Jack’s targeting and also, lest we forget, the unpunished way that Arnautovich the Ork smashed Debuchy into the sideboards, breaking his shoulder and ruining his season. (Yes, I know he came back very late and was further injured.) This unpunished stuff – whether by red cards or by legal action – seems to be an institutional agreement by the EPL or FA and, alas, its member teams to not bring legal action in case of injury. There should be some action on the part of the players association to agree to protect its players. However, the failure of players to push their own organization to demand standards of protection seems, in my view, to make them complicit in the injury process. Some players, it would seem, make their bread and butter as ORCS and intimidators; and their clubs must want them to do so. Time after time we have endured real attacks that, imo, would result in (at least) prosecutions if not on the pitch. Eduardo, Diaby, Aron, Sagna, Theo, Debuchy, and Jack have all been so targeted. I think Sagna’s broken legs contributed to his sense of not being stood up for by the team and it fueled wage demands for having endured a lot while in service to the team which were not met. Whatever the merits of each case, there is a serious problem here that only seems to be lessened by having enough quality depth, because no one will stand up against this chronic brutality. We can never have enough quality; and, thanks to the mega-TV deal, we do have enough money to mitigate the expectable carnage through multiple quality backups at key positions.

  4. Why didn’t you include Santi as he’s played most of the season in that role?

  5. I included Santi in the play makers department. As that is what he does best imo. A bit more deep lying playmaker but never the less a playmaker.

  6. @bob,
    You make an extremely valid point that some of the deliberate fouling sustained by Arsenal players, over the years, would have ended up in the Courts had the law of the land applied on the football field.
    This situation is a disgrace to our legal system and should be rectified.

  7. rich

    You say:

    “Seeing what Wilshere did in the final weeks of the season, English football would have to be sick in the head somewhat not to offer decent protection to the guy who is clearly the jewel in their national team”.

    You’ll be lucky, when you get this in the Media from the likes of that sick b*****d Richard Innes in the Mirror:

    17:58, 27 November 2014
    By Richard Innes

    “With another long-term injury confirmed, it seems the Arsenal and England midfielder has the world’s most brittle ankles. But are they more brittle than this lot?

    (We then get a list of things such as egg shells etc. Fucking hilarious)

    With Jack Wilshere out for another three months after surgery on his left ankle, one key question comes to mind: just how fragile are the Arsenal midfielder’s ankles?

    Yes, injuries have seen Wilshere miss a lot of football in recent years – but nearly all of that absence has been down to his knackered ankles. One report this morning suggested that, of the 119 weeks Wilshere has been injured, 112 weeks were due to ankle problems.

    So, just how weak are those joints? We’ve come up with a list of things we think are stronger. Feel free to suggest more. This list could get an awful lot longer.”

    If that’s not bad enough we then get this from the same piece of shit last week.

    14:51, 11 June 2015
    By Richard Innes

    “Tottenham’s young right-back used the Germany v USA friendly to endear himself to Spurs fans – by almost breaking Arsenal’s German maestro in half.

    There are several ways a new signing at Tottenham can make himself popular with the club’s supporters.

    Score a goal. Help win a trophy. Persuade Hugo Lloris that there is no way he’d like life in Manchester.

    But if he REALLY wants instant cult hero status at White Hart Lane, crunching into one of Arsenal’s key players with a frighteningly hefty “tackle” is a sure fire winner.

    We can only assume that was the thought process of young American right-back DeAndre Yedlin during USA’s 2-1 win against Germany.

    Yedlin – who has only made one Tottenham appearance so far – found himself in a situation where Mesut Ozil was running past him. Watch the video and you’ll see the full ferocity of the foul. He did get booked, incidentally.

    Still, he wasn’t sent off, his nation secured a famous win… and he’s now probably as despised by Arsenal supporters as he is loved by the Spurs faithful.”

    So not satisfied with trivialising the assaults on Wilshere, and turning possible career threatening injuries in to a joke, he openly glorifies the assaulting of Ozil as a sure far way of endearing yourself to your new fans.

    Is this guy Innes for real?

    You may ask yourself how low can these people go?

    You may ask yourself who in there right mind would give of there time to such low life tabloids?

    Well I’ll lay you a fiver that either Jack, or Theo, or Aaron, or whoever will, the next time they knock on the door with a fistful of cash.

    It also doesn’t help when Jack says crap like this:

    “During his recovery period Wilshere, whose career has been plagued by persistent injuries, thought about adapting his style following suggestions it would help avoid similar knocks.

    “When I was injured I read a few people who said that. I thought maybe they are right, maybe I should change it a little bit,” Wilshere told a news conference on Friday.”


    That’s your problem Jack, you DON’T f***ing think.

    Until our own Club and the players AND the manger, realise just what’s going on out there, then I’m afraid we’re living in cuckoo land if we think anything will change any time soon.

  8. A review like this does show how well equipped we are in the attacking MF dept. All 3 of these guys could be considered as ‘playmakers’ in some of the lower PL teams.

  9. @bob – I totally agree with you. It starts of with the local police who should intervene as soon as the law is broken irrelevant of the sport. The law of the land transcends all sporting laws.

    There are far to many GBH type tackles that are against the Laws of the Game & police have the right to intervene & arrest the perpetrator. This is not what we see or really want to see but it is time that we did see law pick up on thugs hiding behind the sports label.

  10. Back on topic. Ramsey is just getting back to his fitness & will amaze us with his football. Jack is maturing and will only get better as long as he can avoid the jealous nasty tackles that will come his way. The Ox is also like Ramsey; mature and ready for some amazing football. He also needs to be aware of the jealousy.

  11. @Menace,

    Ramsey has this skill to get out of nasty tackles. Since his return ie. Leap out of it before the full force of impact comes by. Wilshere has to learn that. And OX too. Lets hope they all stay injury free from now on.

    I’ve had this belief, for a long time now… We will win the league when Wilshere and Ramsey play together in the midfield. And they will have a huge contribution.

  12. I just wish that it does not take another serious injury for Arsenal to say “Enough is enough”. The fact that Arnautovich’s push on Debuchy was not punished is bad enough, but clubs should also be fined for having too short a space surrounding the field before the ad panels. I have seen many players have to attempt to hurdle them when they realise they cannot stop in time.

    I suspect many of our players are going to play at another level this coming seasons, taking another step towards being also classified “world class” by the rest of the world.

  13. @Menace,
    You say that the law of the land transcends all sporting laws. I earnestly hope you are right but I doubt it. Over the years there have been so many cases of outright criminal behaviour, e.g.
    Keane on Alf-Inge of Man City, totally ignored by the law.
    What I would like to see is on the next occasion of blatant thuggery on the field, is for a brave FA to ban the assailant for the rest of his professional career. Then, armed with video and other evidence, await any appeal from the player through the courts. 😉

  14. Bob

    Someone on here posted about a heinous ‘tackle’ in Austrian top flight that is now being investigated by courts. I’ve seen the incident. Pretty much as bad as it gets in that there’s no prospect of competing for the ball and no interest in it either, and a horrible amount of force.

    He just comes in and smashes the guy knee height (apparently, anything that can be damaged in a knee was damaged, badly, by it). So good on the Austrians for doing the right thing. It feels guaranteed we won’t here,though. It wasn’t really any worse than the worst challenges on our players.

  15. Jambug

    You’re killing me. I need just a little bit of hopeful delusion ,from time to time, that things can improve somehow on the fouling/injury/ref fronts.

    But you’re right of course. There isn’t any reason to be optimistic about those things.

    Dan Smith makes a re-appearance in the papers again this weekend, and continues to lie about what happened (heartening to see that even in the lower reaches of football there seems to have been disgust at what he did)

    They know it wasn’t what he still claims it to be : an understandably fired-up kid, making an honest, overeager challenge, getting the ball nicked away from him as he slid across (except he wasn’t sliding- it was more like a crazy karate move at speed).

    He has a chance to do football a favour by spelling out where he went wrong and, if possible, why.

    If he admitted it was no normal challenge, and that he felt deserved guilt and had struggled with it, I’d genuinely wish him well, having paid his dues as much as you can, in getting on with his life. While he keeps lying, I’ll keep hating him.

  16. rich

    Sorry to be such a ‘neg head’ about all this, but I really cant detect any change at all in the way our treatment and subsequent injuries are perceived.

    Basically they are down to us as a Club, or the players as individuals. The fact that, as you point out, they are still to this day giving ‘air time’ to the likes of Dan Smith in order that he can deny any wrong doing in his ending of a players career, surely shows as much.

    You just need to trawl the internet to see how many pundits/reporters over the last year have laid the blame squarely at Wilsheres/Arsenals door. Although one of the most distasteful, that Innes character is certainly not alone.

    I’ve said it a thousand times that the media lay the fertile ground that enables the likes of Smith, Taylor, Shawcross etc. to assault our players at will, without any fear of retribution, least of all from them.

    The Referees know this and are dutifully tolerant in there judgement of these assaults.

    But the fact is it all stems from the medias assertion that Arsenal are a bunch of wimps, that ‘don’t like it up ’em’, and are fair game for anyone willing to get stuck in and give them a good kick in.

    Yet, as I have pointed out, Jack is more than willing to feed the lie by agreeing that he himself is to blame.

    What more encouragement do the media need to continue there crusade to see as many Arsenal players as possible in the treatment room, than one of the victims agrees with them?

    Arsenal FC really have to get a grip of this somehow.

  17. Jambug

    Was only joking there (I can never keep up my positivity drives for long on those fronts)

    I think we’ll get at least some of the answers about the clubs media policy should Wenger ever write his book.

    If you were to collate all he’s said over the years, I’m pretty sure most of it would be covered- the reaction right after Ramsay’s injury, his statements about Diaby- but what the club haven’t haven’t done is then ‘gone to war’ with those sentiments.

    I can almost understand it when I try imagine what would probably happen if they did so. Could they win such a war? I doubt it.

    The media’s power is incredible. Another reminder this week came from the efforts to besmirch the Invincibles team by calling them cheats. The main evidence of this is Pires’ dive.

    I watched one of those season reviews earlier this week in which Ronaldo made a pathetic dive- in a win for Utd in a season they won the title. That dive is nowhere, a forgotten piece of history, discussed by no-one, because of the media. Utd probably rack up 3-5 each year. One of them was crucial in that horrendous farce that was game 50

    I don’t know what actions Arsenal could take against those people.

    Non-compliance would seem a small and sensible step, but (A) they would probably ramp up negativity considerably in the wake of it and (B) I have a feeling that we benefit slightly from the way players appear to live in a bubble. That bubble is the only thing I can find to explain our players not seething against the way they are treated and, more importantly, deciding ‘sheesh. I have one career. It’s more dangerous for me here than it should be and would be if i were playing elsewhere.’

    I know that’s a very unsatisfactory answer. But if any of it is right, at least it takes away one type of frustration : bemusement at what looks inexplicable behaviour.

    Wilshere,though, is an extreme example (and one that tests my theory to breaking point). His treatment, from fellow pros and maybe even more from the media, is unbelievably poor; and ,unless the guy’s a great actor, he appears to hold nothing against either and to show no inclination to alter how he plays in the slightest in order to bring down a little the stupidly high risk of his career being dogged by injury or even ruined.

    It would have been great if he’d said – ‘I’m not sure I can change my game. So I’m going to be relying on people not hitting me late, and on referees doing their job to discourage them from doing so. The real question is whether the onus should be on me to change my game in order to be reasonably safe in England. Is that what our football amounts to here?’

    I would love to see the media try slam him for saying that. They would. But it would be transparent bullshit.

  18. @nicky –

    In the alleged racial abuse incident of John Terry & Ferdinand, the Police took an active role. It was reported to them so they had to. The FA delayed their report to such an extent that a level of corrupt practice could have been challenged. The whole incident is still raw in the minds of many as ‘justice’ didn’t appear to be served.

    I believe that any incident that is blatant ‘GBH’ & warrants reporting should be. A quick 999 (or 101 if you want no come back) call to ensure it is recorded & trackable should force the issue. How the club handles it is a another matter.

    The Law of the land must take precedence over that on the sports field. There must be some allowance for the sporting organisations to keep control but that must be a fuzzy line.

  19. rich

    “……. but what the club hasn’t done is then ‘gone to war’ with those sentiments. I can almost understand it when I try imagine what would probably happen if they did so. Could they win such a war? I doubt it”.

    I agree it would be tricky, but simply not giving exclusives etc. would be a start. I mean it can hardly get much worse than it already is.

    “It would have been great if he’d said – ‘I’m not sure I can change my game. So I’m going to be relying on people not hitting me late, and on referees doing their job to discourage them from doing so. The real question is whether the onus should be on me to change my game in order to be reasonably safe in England. Is that what our football amounts to here?’”

    Yes, it would, or a simple:

    ‘I don’t see how I can be blamed for players mistiming there tackles, but if you want to blame me that’s up to you’

    Whatever, FFS don’t agree with them, that’s just idiotic !!

    Either way rich, I think something has to change because if we are going to be as competitive as I think we are going to be, we will be seriously targeted by these thugs next season.

    Sanchez will have a bulls eye on his back.

    My prediction for next season is he will be caught and out injured within the first month or so and the consensus of opinion will be it’s Wenger’s fault for over playing him.

    I really hope I’m wrong.

  20. Yeah, I knew my Wilshere statement had veered off track when I used the word ‘onus’

    The simple one from you would do the job I had in mind very well.

    Hope you’re wrong,too. As I said a while ago, I really believe we should sacrifice a little our chances of winning the charity shield in order to deny Mourinho the chance to get our season off to the worst possible start by crocking a key player.

    Rotten way to approach things , particularly as a win would be very handy for our confidence, but when I think what an appalling blow an injury to a key player at that stage would be to our chances, it seems justified.

    Sanchez and Coquelin are the two I’d leave out.

  21. rich

    I think it was your good self that suggest the sacrificing of the Community (Charity as was) shield in order to preserve the health of our players a few weeks ago.

    I’m as undecided now as I was then as to the wisdom of such a move.

    My inclination is to just do what you was going to do and leave it in the lap of the Gods. If we are going to be targeted, AND if the referees are going to be there usual accommodating selves, it would be a pointless exercise anyway.

    A few headlines the day after:

    -Sanchez out for 6 months. Was fatigue to blame as he fails to avoid Cahills forceful challenge?

    -Was Wenger to blame for Sanchez injury – At least he’ll get a rest now.

    A bit mischievous I know but I do fear for him.

  22. “The real question is whether the onus should be on me to change my game in order to be reasonably safe in England. Is that what our football amounts to here?”
    This is spot on.
    Your fears for Sanchez feel all too real.
    Vigilance training, and anticipation/avoidance of the full blow; and yet to stay intuitive and innovative through all this. Really tough, but vital to drive home in the lads’ heads. Also, the need to ensure enough quality backup at most positions to see us through the inevitable.

  23. Something just flashed by for me.

    Referees are supposed to ensure a “safe workplace” for players. And I once wrote some agency in the UK responsible for workplace safety, and they weren’t interested. Maybe they could be made interested?

    But, if a team feels one or more of the officials of a game are not doing enough to ensure the safety of players, could they serve them with papers such that if they came on the home field again, they would be charged with trespass?

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