One of the most significant differences between modern football and the football of which there are barely any mentions of/highlights on youtube is the versatility of players. This is most prominent in the attacking positions where players are expected to not only create and score goals but also implement the manager’s tactical plan and defend from the front in order to regain possession as quickly as possible.
We thought it would be interesting to analyse which teams in the Premier League make the most interceptions in these advanced positions i.e who makes interceptions in areas 3,4,8,9,12,13 as highlighted below.
This gives us a good indication of which teams’ forwards are the most committed to putting the opposition defence under pressure, a vital component of the modern game. The results are surprising, but with a bit of context they start to make much more sense.
5. Aston Villa (81)
Many people have argued that Darren Bent‘s omission from the Aston Villa squad is nonsensical when the team are struggling for goals so badly outside of new sensation Christian Benteke. But Lambert’s forward men seem to be doing a fine job of harassing the opposition up top even though the key protagonists: El Ahmadi, Brett Holman and Andreas Weimann are all guilty of not being outstanding creative forces.
4. Manchester City (83)
This will surprise absolutely nobody who saw Mancini’s Inter Milan team which was so dominant in Serie A. Double training is standard and triple training can happen too. He enjoys playing creative midfielders precisely to reduce the avenues other team can pass into. They might not be having the best season but the Sky Blues are still a well-oiled machine.
3. Tottenham Hotspur (100)
Rather than a specific tactic being responsible for the Lilywhites’ position in this top 5; it has more to do with the quite incredible Gareth Bale and Sandro. While Bale loves to lurk behind his opposition winger and nip in for the ball with his pace, Sandro is an intercepting machine in all areas of the pitch.
2. Arsenal (105)
While Wenger goes through the most tumultuous period as an Arsenal manager, there’s evidence that his teams are doing some things right on the pitch. Notorious for their fitness, Wenger’s teams have always been tactically assembled to press all over the pitch to enable rapid counter-attacks. Arsenal find themselves higher than most in this list mainly due to the contribution of Santi Cazorla who makes more interceptions in the areas listed above than any other player in the Premier League (22).
1. Southampton (124)
Now this is a shock. While Cazorla is number 1 on this list as mentioned before, Southampton have entries 2,3,4 in Clyne (18), Schneiderlin (17) and Ramirez (15) which speak volumes about the motivational work started by Nigel Adkins and carried on by Mauricio Pochettino in helping the Saints adapt to the pace of the Premier League and settle themselves nicely in 15th, four points above the relegation zone.
By Nic English