If you wanted to measure whether subs help or hinder a side, it will take a lot more than just looking at the naked numbers.
Reading around, I came across a piece in an article from March that stated no other side had as many goals from subs as Arsenal this season.
I wanted to check out if this was still the case and in my search for an answer (I didn’t find one and couldn’t be annoyed counting) noticed another stat I found interesting.
You might disagree, but it would be really dull if we all were intrigued by the same things, wouldn’t it? Anyway, I’m drawn to numbers because they can tell you a lot.
In this case, I was drawn to them because they tell me nothing and I found that interesting because I thought they might show a pattern.
Before the final round of matches, over the course of this season, Arsenal used 119 subs in the Premier League.
Each sub got, on average, 21 minutes.
Brighton, however, used the most subs, 123, with theirs getting around 23 minutes each.
Norwich used 121 subs, giving each of those players an average of 17 minutes. Together, these teams make up three of the top four when it comes to making substitutes.
Taking just those three stats along with the knowledge that Arsenal will finish between 8th and 10th, Brighton 15th or 16th, and Norwich rock bottom, you might be led to think that more subs is not a good thing. Team stability, familiarity and reliability are important.
Throw in a fourth team, however, that you know is actually good at football, like Liverpool, and everything changes again.
They were the only other team to make more subs than Arsenal, bringing on 122 players over the course of the season for an average of just 17 minutes each.
We talk a lot about how managers change games through their substitutions, but do they really make much of an impact over the course of a season?
These stats would seem to suggest not, but, as I said, sometimes numbers on their own tell us nothing.
Just like this article. It tells you little, apart from what sort of weird things interest me.
For the record, and for reading this far, Joe Willock is Arsenal’s most used sub this season, coming on 21 times and averaging around 16 minutes per sub appearance. Our second most used sub is Lucas Torreira, with 11.