As the season reaches its climax, we have taken our annual look at the top Premier League benchwarmers and most prominent substitutes ahead of the summer transfer window.
Having analysed home and away line-ups from 336 matches in 2022-23, we can reveal the identity of the players who have amassed the most time on the sidelines, as well as how different managers have made use of their bench.
Who has spent the most time on the sidelines?
West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini tops the list of benchwarmers during the latest campaign. The Argentinian started the Hammers’ opening match against Manchester City but has since been named on the bench in all of their 33 subsequent fixtures.
Lanzini – who has accumulated a mere 181 minutes of playing time across seven appearances – is the only Premier League player to have spent more than two days on the subs bench this term.
Aston Villa centre-back Calum Chambers is in second place for bench-time, ahead of Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos, who has 13 substitute appearances and zero starts to his name so far this season.
West Ham are the only side with multiple players in the top 10 for minutes spent on the sidelines. The Hammers’ summer signing Flynn Downes joins Lanzini on the list having struggled to break into the first XI, although he made a rare start against Manchester City on Wednesday night courtesy of Declan Rice’s illness.
Which subs tend to go unused?
Perhaps more demoralising than being named as a substitute is the prospect of never making it onto the pitch.
Tottenham’s Japhet Tanganga leads the way by this measure having been selected as a replacement on 26 occasions and only twice been introduced.
Everton’s defensive duo of Ruben Vinagre and Mason Holgate are the only other Premier League players with 20-plus benchings this season and just the two substitute appearances.
Newcastle’s Javier Manquillo and Brighton’s Jan Paul van Hecke have seen their opportunities limited by a settled back line in 2022-23, while Manchester City’s Rico Lewis has been talked up at times by Pep Guardiola without ever cementing a regular place in the team.
The 18-year-old academy graduate made five starts and a substitute appearance in a seven-game period immediately after the World Cup, but has since seen his game-time restricted, having been named in 12 matchday squads and only once made it onto the pitch.
Who are the impact subs?
On the other hand, some substitutes need not worry when named on the bench because they are almost guaranteed to come on.
Step forward Fulham’s Tom Cairney, who has been introduced by manager Marco Silva on all 27 occasions that he was initially selected as a substitute.
That said, Cairney – who was first choice the last time Fulham were in the Premier League in 2020-21 – is likely to be frustrated at having made only two starts, which were against Liverpool on Wednesday and Manchester United on November 13.
Elsewhere, Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy and Brentford’s Yoane Wissa have featured in every one of their teams’ fixtures this season, despite being named on the bench in at least 20 of those matches.
Successive Wolves managers Bruno Lage and Julen Lopetegui have consistently called on Adama Traore’s blistering pace from the bench, while Liverpool’s James Milner continues to be regularly introduced by Jurgen Klopp, who clearly values the 37-year-old’s experience late in games.
Which clubs use their full allocation of subs?
The Premier League’s introduction of five substitutes this season – in line with other major European leagues – has allowed managers to make greater use of their bench.
Only four clubs have used their full allocation in more than half of matches, namely Southampton, Brentford, Wolves and Chelsea. Liverpool – whose manager Klopp was one of the biggest advocates for five subs – have used all of their allotted changes in 16 out of 34 fixtures to date.
Meanwhile, Everton’s lack of squad depth has been evident in the way that Sean Dyche and his predecessor Frank Lampard have used their bench. The Toffees have introduced five subs on just four occasions in 34 games, at the lowest rate in the Premier League.
David Moyes’ West Ham have used their full allocation on five occasions, while Leicester have done so six times.
When do managers look to their bench?
There is a clear split between when managers make in-game changes, depending on where their team ranks in the table.
Seven of the nine clubs to have made more than 10 per cent of their substitutions during or before half-time are languishing in the bottom half of the table. Wolves have made the highest number of early changes (28) – including four in the recent 6-0 defeat against Brighton – ahead of Chelsea (19).
In contrast, the six teams with the highest percentage of subs introduced after the 85th minute are sat in the top half of the Premier League. Fulham have made the greatest number of late substitutions (37), ahead of Tottenham (35) and Arsenal (33).
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