The clocks have gone back, the Premier League hi-vis Winter ball is now in use and with 10 rounds of fixtures now played, statistical trends are now starting to emerge. Since substitution impact was a new addition to this website for this season, this week’s blog takes a look at how each club has been using their bench this season, and how successful those strategies have been.

TeamPositive Impact SubstitutionsNegative Impact SubstitutionsPoints Gained/Lost Following Substitutions
Liverpool64+7
Manchester City430
Leicester City61+5
Chelsea37-2
Arsenal93+5
Crystal Palace120
Manchester United06-2
Sheffield United92+3
A.F.C. Bournemouth11+2
West Ham United240
Tottenham Hotspur54-1
Wolverhampton Wanderers120+6
Burnley750
Brighton and Hove Albion37-1
Aston Villa37-7
Everton25-1
Newcastle United22+2
Southampton20+2
Norwich City240
Watford22-1

The table above summarises substitution impact for each club, as well as the net points gained or lost across the season so far following substitutions (something which you will now also find on each club’s page). The first thing to emphasise regarding substitution impact is the fact that it is only whilst drawing that it is possible to make a substitution which could have either a positive or negative impact. Therefore if you are looking at Manchester City’s statistics and think they look rather low considering the quality they are able to introduce off the bench, then it is worth remembering that given how often City take the lead during the early stages of a game, opportunities for Pep Guardiola to make positive impact substitutions have been somewhat limited.

This also explains how Wolverhampton Wanderers have managed to record 12 positive impact substitutions without recording a single negative impact substitution. Wolves have so often found themselves trailing going into the final 30 minutes of games, and whilst they should be commended for their fitness and mentality during the latter stages of games, Nuno Espirito Santo will still be searching for solutions to improve how his side start games. Nevertheless, a net gain of 6 points following substitutions is the second best in the league, behind only Liverpool, and the likes of Adama Traore and Pedro Neto have made significant contributions off the bench.

Crystal Palace are arguably the club who have experienced the smallest impact (for better or for worse) from their substitutes this season, with just a solitary positive impact substitution and 2 negative impact substitutions, with no net gain or loss in points following their substitutions. This can be attributed to the combination of how long Roy Hodgson tends to wait before making his substitutions, and the personnel he has available off the bench. Their most commonly used substitute this season is Christian Benteke, who has brought on 7 times. Those appearances have lasted a combined total of 125 minutes, with the most game time he has had as a substitute being 26 minutes against Wolves. That is not much time for a player like Benteke to make a positive impact on a match, and the stats highlight this, with only a solitary goal as a substitute during his Palace career.

The club who have lost the most points following substitutions so far this season is Aston Villa, who have been rather guilty of throwing away leads this season. Indeed, their record of 3 positive impact substitutions and 7 negative impact substitutions is identical to Brighton and Hove Albion, yet whilst Brighton have only have a 1 point net loss, Villa have a 7 point net loss. That has included coming away from their two trips to North London with nothing despite leading late on in both games, and without those dropped points they would currently find themselves in 5th place rather than 15th. Villa had a huge turnover of players in the Summer and now look more settled than they did 2 months ago, so it will be interesting to see whether this trend was merely a byproduct of the unfamiliarity between some of the players during the opening weeks of the season or an indicator of a bigger problem.

Finally, the table also provides a nice reminder of the reasons behind switching from 2 points to 3 points for a win. Newcastle United have twice turned draws into victories following substitutions and twice seen draws turned into defeats following substitutions. Under the old system this would have left them back at square one, but with 3 points for a win, they have a net points gain of 2 points following substitutions, without which they would be in the relegation zone.

This is also reflected in the fact that Liverpool have gained the most net points following substitutions this season. The fact that their positive impact substitutions only outnumber the negative impact substitutions by 6 to 4 might initially suggest a limited impact from their bench, though like Manchester City they haven’t often found themselves in a position to make positive impact substitutions. However, when they have, Jurgen Klopp’s bench has responded every time, turning 3 draws into victories as well as rescuing a point at Old Trafford for a net gain of 7 points. Given it was the number of drawn games which ultimately cost them the title last season, the improvement in this area this term bodes well for their title challenge this campaign.

Fantasy Premier League Tip – Christian Kabasele

The improvement under Quique Sanchez Flores may not have been as dramatic as Watford fans would have been hoping for, but after conceding 8 goals at the Etihad, things have tightened up considerably at the back, with just 1 goal conceded across their past 3 games. Christian Kabasele has been at the heart of that improvement, with the Hornets yet to lose when he has been in the side this season. Whilst free-scoring Chelsea are Watford’s next opponents, the rest of November sees them travel to Norwich and Southampton as well as hosting Burnley, meaning that the idea of picking a defender from the Premier League’s bottom side is hopefully not as daft as it might sound, especially at £4.3 million.