Who makes the most of the 5 substitutions?

Not all managers seem to cherish the prospect of making five substitutions in a Premier League game. Of course, Pep Guardiola is not one of them, but which team is making the best use of the 5-sub rule?

We zoom in today on the substitutional patterns of the Premier League teams and analyze not only how it helps the coaches, but also the players.

Would Spurs be better off without the rule?

Judging by the two fixtures played recently by Tottenham, it looks like Jose Mourinho is not a huge fan of the fourth and fifth substitution. He either trusts the physio team’s efforts and considers that his players don’t require too much rest, or he is not comfortable with sending in some of his reserves.

While the Portuguese coach has some high-quality players on the bench, he only made two changes against Man. United and three in the next game, versus West Ham.

Harry Kane ”celebrating” his goal against West Ham – photo: premierleague.com

That meant players like Sessegnon, Ndombele, Vertonghen or Alderweireld remain unused since the restart. I can only imagine their frustration for not having played a single minute in more than three months, especially considering that some of them were rather used to playing from the start of the game.

In the last seven fixtures, Spurs is playing against five teams in the top half of the table. It will be interesting to see whether Mourinho’s players will cope with the fatigue or burn out unless Jose will apply some adjustments to his tactics.

Potter is mastering his wizardry since the restart

Without a win in 2020, Brighton secured four points out of six in the matches against Arsenal and third-placed Leicester. The success against the Gunners came after Graham Potter skillfully used all of his available substitutions.

He turned the game in the Seagulls’ favour, after sending in Connolly and 21-year-old Mac Allister, both of them contributing to Maupay’s decisive strike in the final minute.

Connolly delivered the assist for Maupay’s match-winning goal – photo: premierleague.com

Brighton is one of the only four teams that consumed all the five substitutions in every game so far. The players on the bench are arguably at the same level as the ones that are usually in the starting line-up, which helps Potter maintain his squad’s fitness while also advancing the same attacking style of play he advocates for.

Opportunities for youngsters and players with contracts expiring this summer

Players like Lallana or Nampalys Mendy will probably get more minutes of game-time under their belts. It will be their chance to impress their current or future club. Also, players who often found themselves forgotten on the bench will have their go for the spotlight.

The likes of Naby Keita, Josip Drmic or maybe Jack Wilshere can step in and show they are Premier League material (or not).

Tariq Lamptey’s Premier League full debut at King Power Stadium – photo: @Chelsea_UK

Teenagers will make the most of the 5-sub rule, as they will replace more and more often their experienced teammates. Tariq Lamptey played a full game against Leicester (keeping a clean sheet) and is likely to repeat that soon.

Anthony Gordon featured in both Everton games and I am sure Billy Gilmour will come in more frequently for Chelsea over the next couple of weeks.

More rotation for some, less flexibility for others

Obviously, Guardiola is jubilating when he makes up the squad and chooses the starting eleven. He has an impressive squad depth and so many players that can switch roles.

Speaking of youngsters, Phil Foden thrived in the previous weeks for Manchester City, scoring three goals in two matches. He struck twice against Burnley, a team that isn’t so keen on making so many changes.

Burnley’s ”bench” against Watford – photo: burnleyfootballclub.com

Although his side has definitely avoided relegation, Sean Dyche only made one substitution against Watford, leaving five youngsters on the bench as unused reserves.

In fact, Dyche used up all his available substitutions only once in the last 11 Premier League fixtures (back when there was a maximum of three allowed). I think it’s safe to say the changes in the rules are not having a huge impact on The Clarets’ strategy.

While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made all his five changes at a time against Sheffield United, I am looking forward to that game in the next seven fixtures when a manager won’t make use of any of his subs. Who is that going to be? Dyche, Hodgson, Steve Bruce?