Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka vs Napoli’s Jorginho – A Statistical Comparison
Napoli maintained their unbeaten start to the Serie A season and pulled two points clear at the top of the table by beating strugglers Sassuolo 3-1 on Sunday. Maurizio Sarri’s side have won 10 and drawn one of their opening 11 games in the league this season.
Sarri’s high-flying entertainers are yet to lose this season but have a long way to go in their hunt for a first Serie A title since 1989-90. Apart from the jet-heeled attacking trio of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon, one player who has been every bit as important at Stadio San Paolo is midfielder Jorginho.
The smooth-passing midfielder, who has been likened to Barcelona legend Xavi, joined Hellas Verona after moving to Italy. In 2014, he was snapped up on a co-ownership agreement by Napoli. Since then, Jorginho, along with Napoli, has gone from strength to strength, winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercopa Italiana.
The Brazilian-born midfielder has played a key role in Sarri’s side climbing to the summit of Serie A, which has not gone unnoticed by Europe’s elites. Reportedly, Arsenal are tracking Jorginho as they prepare for the possible departures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Arsenal have enjoyed a mixed start to the Premier League campaign this season, sitting 5th after 10 games and currently trailing leaders Manchester City by 9 points. The club’s problems in midfield have recently been brought into focus following the form of Granit Xhaka and the absence of the injured Santi Cazorla. With the Gunners lacking quality in midfield, let us have a comparison between midfielders Xhaka and Jorginho.
Jorginho has played 8 league games for Napoli out of 10, while Xhaka has been a regular figure for Arsenal since the inception of new season, starting every game.
Jorginho’s greatest asset is his passing range and no wonder he has made 825 passes in 8 games, compared to Xhaka’s 853 in 10. Out of 825 passes, the Napoli midfielder has 764 successful passes; in contrast to Arsenal man’s 710 successful passes in 853.
No player has made more passes in Serie A this season, with Jorginho enjoying an astounding 93% pass completion rate. Xhaka, a gifted ball-player, has a decent 83% pass completion rate. The two midfielders however, are tied with 9 key passes made for their respective teams.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Xhaka’s passing game is his willingness to spray the ball across the field, which has helped him get 3 assists this season. Jorginho, a midfield regista in the mould of Xavi, has only one assist to his name. In terms of chances created, the Swiss international has created 12 chances, while the Brazilian-born midfielder has created 10 chances.
Xhaka is hard-tackler of the ball and it is not surprising to see that he’s won 10 tackles, 3 more than Jorginho’s 7. Being an aggressive customer, Xhaka is guilty of picking up two red cards last campaign. Interestingly, he seems to have curbed his aggressive instincts somewhat and has kept red cards at bay; although he has been booked once compared to Jorginho’s two yellow cards. In terms of successful take-ons, Xhaka has 8, when compared to Jorginho’s measly 3.
Jorginho failed to score in the league in his last two seasons, which tells us that he is not a prolific goal-scoring midfielder. However, he finally opened his account this season, after just 8 games. Xhaka is yet to break his duck this campaign.
The aforementioned stats show both Jorginho and Xhaka are players with contrasting style of play. While Jorginho is a good reader of the game with fantastic passing quality, Xhaka is more of a dynamic, hard-tackling midfielder.
Jorginho would fit in at Arsenal, with his style suited to a team that likes to dominate possession and take the initiative but Arsenal have to shell a lot of money to get him January, which looks like an unlikely prospect.
With Sanchez and Ozil expected to depart next summer, Jorginho-Xhaka can form an effective partnership and provide the ideal base for gifted Wales international Aaron Ramsey to wander forward and score more.