Talking Tactics

Tactical review: City continuity counted for title

Adrian Clarke 26 May 2018
Pep Guardiola, Man City

Adrian Clarke on how Pep Guardiola's minor changes bucked a Premier League trend but not one for recent champions

Adrian Clarke takes a look at the tactical trends of the 2017/18 Premier League. 

Team selection

For the fourth season in a row, the Premier League champions have proved the importance of selecting settled sides.

Chelsea and Leicester City have benefited from having largely the same starting XIs for their title wins between 2015 and 2017.

And in some respects, 2017/18 champions Manchester City followed suit.

Same starters

In the season just gone, the only side to have used fewer starters than City were Burnley.

Pep Guardiola did not use many different players, but the City manager did tinker with his starting XIs on a regular basis. 

Least and most starters in 2017/18
Fewest starters Most starters
Burnley 21 Everton 29
Man City 22 Arsenal 28
AFC Bournemouth 22 Stoke 28
Brighton 22 Watford 27

Guardiola named the same starting XI in consecutive PL matches on only one occasion.

He often made one or two changes at a time, preferring to keep the majority of his line-up the same.

This was also true in terms of the City formation. Guardiola used a 4-3-3 in all but four of their 38 matches.

As for the three teams to use the highest number of starters, Everton, Arsenal and Stoke City, they all struggled for periods of the season.

Using fewer players adds stability and increases familiarity on the pitch. 

Dyche keeps it consistent

Burnley were the team to have kept the most familiarity in their line-ups. 

Sean Dyche named an unchanged side 12 times, four more than the next club, West Ham United.

On the flip side, Jurgen Klopp was the only manager to change his starting XI for all 38 matches.

Bench effect

The impact that substitutions have on a match is another consideration for managers. 

They need to make the right calls at the right moments to influence matches.

In this respect Jose Mourinho was the most successful.

Thanks in part to Anthony Martial’s four goals and three from Jesse Lingard, Manchester United’s substitutes scored more than any other.

Most team substitute goals
Club Substitute goals
Man Utd 12
Man City 10
West Ham 8
Arsenal 7
AFC Bournemouth 7
Burnley 7
Chelsea 7
Southampton 7
Stoke 7

Tottenham Hotspur, with just two goals, and Liverpool, with three, were the teams to have scored the fewest from the bench.

Individually, Olivier Giroud was the standout "super-sub", for both Chelsea and Arsenal. 

Most player substitute goals
Player Substitute goals
Giroud 6
Martial 4
Niasse 4
Crouch 4
Wood 4
Lingard 3
Also in this series

Part 1: Tactical review: Coaches show flexibility
Part 3: Tactical review: Players saving their best shots
Part 4: Tactical review: Free-kick goals a dying breed
Part 5: Tactical review: Tackles on the slide

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