Premier League: Top trends revealed for the 2021/22 season

After a scintillating Premier League marketing campaign reached its finale on Sunday, we reveal the prime trends that formed the season.

Youth focus

One factor is for certain, beginning XIs have been getting youthful lately – however is that pattern starting to reverse?

The common age of beginning XIs throughout the division dropped for 4 seasons working, from almost 28 in 2016/17 to 27 in 2020/21, however bounced again to a three-year excessive at 27.28 this time period.

Are groups reverting to expertise over growth?

Arsenal suffered a expensive dip in kind at the enterprise finish of the season to drop out of the prime 4 with a defeat in opposition to Newcastle in the penultimate spherical of video games, with many critics suggesting their younger group lacked the expertise to see Champions League qualification over the line.

Indeed, the Gunners weren’t solely the youngest group in the Premier League with a mean beginning age of simply 24.84, they had been the youngest by a complete 12 months – with the second-youngest aspect, Brentford, weighing in at 25.85.

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Clubs fielding younger groups are clearly planning to nurture growth over time to realize success. Conversely, older groups will cite that the most profitable sides have averaged at round 27 years of age.

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If you search ‘Liverpool’ in the desk under, you will notice the early groups in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18 rank amongst the youngest.

As these gamers matured, that growth resulted in a Champions League title in 2018/19 after which ended their 30-year hiatus with no league title two years in the past.

The graphic under reveals a transparent correlation between success and the golden common age of 27 – epitomised by Manchester City’s record-breaking 100 factors in 2017/18 with a mean age of 26.89.

From this, we will see solely Tottenham have achieved extra factors in a season than Arsenal with a mean age underneath 25, over the 11-year interval – amassing 70 factors in 2015/16.

Meanwhile, title-tussling Manchester City and Liverpool look like drifting past the historic common prime.

Tap the stats!

Want to know which group reclaimed possession most in the center third? Or possibly who fired the most crosses into the opposition field? Check out the interactive graphic under…

Player of the season

In addition to the final-day drama involving the title race, top-four battle, relegation struggle, Golden Boot and Golden Glove, the Sky Sports Power Rankings winner – which is awarded to the participant who collects the most factors over the season based mostly on 35 matchday stats – additionally went all the way down to the wire.

Mohamed Salah had led the desk for the majority of the season however Heung-Min Son soared up the chart throughout the second half of the season to enter the closing fixture at the summit, whereas Kevin De Bruyne produced a panoramic surge to create a three-horse race.

Full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joao Cancelo had additionally been on the periphery of the race, however Son pipped his rivals following his final-day double in the 5-0 win over relegated Norwich to develop into the seventh Power Rankings champion and be part of the statistical giants in our corridor of fame.

Son was concerned in a league-high 23 non-penalty targets throughout the marketing campaign and produced a string of breathtaking performances.

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Performance of the season

Using the Power Rankings algorithm, the prime efficiency this season was De Bruyne’s four-goal masterclass in opposition to Wolves this month – pipping team-mate Gabriel Jesus (vs Watford) and each hat-trick shows from Cristiano Ronaldo (vs Tottenham and Norwich).

The desk under ranks all 10,470 performances this season (excluding any ‘pointless’ run-outs) and – to avoid wasting you scrolling via 1,011 pages – Kasper Schmeichel’s efficiency in the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City in December ranks as the worst efficiency this time period, with Aymeric Laporte’s poor exhibiting in opposition to Crystal Palace in October rating as the worst outfield run-out.

Team of the season

Based on the similar algorithm, the top-performing Premier League XI clocks 5 Liverpool gamers, three from Manchester City, two from Tottenham and one from Arsenal.

Few would sniff at this line-up, full of statistical giants: Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Bukayo Saka, Salah, Harry Kane and Son.

Interestingly, Saka made the minimize at the expense of Bruno Fernandes on the closing day.

Who lined the most floor?

Norwich struggled this season and plenty of may describe their marketing campaign as having loads of effort however a scarcity of chew. Well, the Canaries ran additional than some other group this season – so their work ethic can’t be questioned.

Interestingly, Leeds dropped off significantly on this metric as the membership struggled to take care of final season’s lofty standings, with a number of heavy defeats prompting the board to axe Marcelo Bielsa and appoint Jesse Marsch at the helm.

However, some issues by no means change: Leeds stay in a league of their very own for sprints with 6,495 throughout the marketing campaign – greater than 1,000 greater than second-ranked Manchester United.

At the different finish of the scale, Crystal Palace as soon as once more ranked amongst the backside groups on this metric however are closing the hole as Patrick Vieira oversees the squad overhaul which has additionally drastically decreased the beginning XI common age.

In phrases of the gamers, Southampton workhorse James Ward-Prowse as soon as once more topped the pack with 417 km, adopted by West Ham aerial maestro Tomas Soucek and Brentford midfielder Christian Norgaard.

Other notables amongst the prime 10 embrace Declan Rice, Fernandes and Kane – proving his work-rate didn’t dip as his scoring did in the earlier phases of the season after his summer time transfer to Manchester City didn’t materialise.

The 12 months of…

In earlier seasons we’ve seen the highlight shift from strikers to less-glamorous, deeper positions – as was the case with the defensive midfielder, equivalent to N’Golo Kante throughout Leicester’s title-winning season.

That gentle has regularly shone brighter on attacking full-backs and so they stay an integral a part of tactical growth.

However, inverted wingers stole the present this season with Salah and Son going toe-to-toe in the Golden Boot race proper as much as the closing day.

The twelfth man returns!

Something fairly distinctive occurred final season amid the turmoil of the pandemic and empty stadiums: extra groups received on the street than on residence soil – the first time this had occurred in 133 years since the English top-flight was based.

The margins between a house or away win had been virtually precisely equal, suggesting residence benefit was neutralised and arguably proving the energy of residence help with a full set of followers and underlining how the twelfth man actually does increase groups.

This season, residence benefit has kicked again into gear with visiting groups successful solely 34 per cent of video games, in contrast with 40 per cent final time period. Despite this, there may be nonetheless no escaping the undeniable fact that residence benefit stays usually on the wane and has been on a gradual decline since 1888.

Top two domination

Manchester City dominated for two strong years till Liverpool hit peak kind in 2018/19 and ran City to the wire earlier than blasting them apart in the following marketing campaign. The league summit has now been managed by the two golf equipment for three out of the previous 4 seasons.

As was the case in 2019, this marketing campaign delivered one other final-day showdown with only a single level dividing the title-tussling titans. That has solely occurred on 9 events since the league was shaped in 1992.

Another issue is the sheer domination and rising muscle the golf equipment wield. In phrases of high quality, the chart under reveals the mixed factors complete of the prime two golf equipment and divulges a widening gulf at the summit – damaged solely by Liverpool’s below-par season final time period when Manchester United landed runners-up spot.

High press and excessive line

The time period ‘excessive line’ or the tactical ploy to take advantage of it has been banded round regularly in latest seasons, often when analysing Liverpool and Manchester City taking part in kinds. Can we measure this? We can…

‘Starting distance’ is a statistic that measures how far upfield groups begin passing sequences on common, which supplies a really clear indication of how excessive the group performs.

Unsurprisingly, Liverpool prime the division on this metric with a mean of 45.5m – having superior an additional metre on final season’s common – whereas Manchester City rank second on 45.4m, principally matching their common from final time period.

Other notable findings embrace Brighton rating third, adopted by Chelsea, Southampton and Arsenal, whereas relegated Burnley – historically thought of a deep group – matched Manchester United. Meanwhile, Leicester retreated farthest this time period, dropping 1.2m deeper on common.

So, on common, Premier League groups averaged 41.6m from aim this season, which equates to a 0.3 improve on final season and suggests the pattern of pushing larger stays on the rise.

Linked to superior kinds of play is ‘defending from the entrance’: urgent, counter-pressing, or ‘gegenpressing’.

While Liverpool are synonymous with it, utilizing their three dogged central midfielders and hard-working frontline, extra groups are catching on.

New, superior metrics measure this exercise intimately and ‘excessive turnovers’ – that are outlined as passing sequences that begin in open play and start 40m or much less from the opponents’ aim – have been on the rise for 4 seasons working.

Ultimately, successful excessive turnovers helps stop opponents from exposing excessive traces – which is why the two metrics typically work in tandem. Therefore, it comes as no shock to see Liverpool, Manchester City and Brighton prime the listing this time period.

In truth, Liverpool have registered the largest hike from final season (+76), whereas Newcastle (+73), Crystal Palace (+59), Brighton (+56) and Arsenal (+55) have additionally been simpler at turning over possession in superior areas throughout this marketing campaign. It is maybe no coincidence that each one referenced golf equipment confirmed marked enhancements this season.

English forwards struggling?

English forwards scored 142 targets in the Premier League this season, near the all-time low of 136 set in 2012/13 – however what’s behind the decline?

That meagre return is a far cry from the all-time season-high of 451 scored in 1993/94 – even accounting for when the league comprised of twenty-two groups and golf equipment performed 42-game campaigns.

Goals scored by English forwards have been on the wane since the league was based in 1992, earlier than a slight bounce ebbed again to this season’s trough.

Tap on the ‘minutes performed’ tab on the interactive graphic under and the main reason behind the decline turns into clear: diminishing sport time, which hit an all-time low in 2018/19.

However, there had been a latest resurgence in minutes over the previous two seasons, with Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Jamie Vardy, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham (whereas at Chelsea), Ollie Watkins, Callum Wilson and Danny Ings having fun with sustained or intervals of kind.

But 2021/22 noticed quite a few stars hit rocky patches, notably Rashford and Sancho, whereas Vardy, Calvert-Lewin and Patrick Bamford all spent appreciable intervals of time on the sidelines with harm points.

To compound issues, Kane hit a barren run in entrance of aim after his summer time switch to Manchester City didn’t materialise, having scored just one Premier League aim by early December – however the 28-year-old has hit kind and scored 16 league targets since Antonio Conte changed Nuno Espirito Santo at the helm in November.

Transfer spending

Finally, we wrap this up with transfer-spending trends. In phrases of outlay, two high-profile golf equipment underneath scrutiny lead the method this season in Arsenal and Manchester United, splashing £156m and £133m, respectively, over each home windows.

The outlay suggests ambition to shut the hole on the prime three, however whereas Arsenal have slashed the common age and invested in youth whereas additionally constructing on final season’s returns, the similar can’t be mentioned for Manchester United.

If you click on on the web spend tab in the interactive graphic under, Newcastle rise into runner-up spot behind the Gunners for total outlay on new recruits after their takeover, which led to Eddie Howe taking cost and the membership splurging £118m on incomings throughout the winter window.

The numbers recommend Arsenal and United have their work minimize out to maintain forward of the Magpies’ ambition and funding, whereas Palace additionally confirmed loads of ambition with an £88m web spend, which translated into success on the pitch.

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