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5 clubs who have played the most long balls in the Premier League this season (2021-22)

5 clubs who have played the most long balls in the Premier League this season (2021-22)
5 clubs who have played the most long balls in the Premier League this season (2021-22)
Varun Pai

The 2021-22 Premier League season has seen more and more teams play direct football. A lot of the big clubs try to build from the back and orchestrate play through their opponents. However, not everybody can do this and some teams prefer hitting a long ball that will directly neutralize their opponent.

The Premier League has seen a surge in long balls this season

The style of football used in the Championship and the Premier League is very different. The Championship is far more direct while the English top-flight is a little more technical.

Regardless, it is no surprise that the newly promoted teams generally opt to use the element of a long ball to thwart their opponents. Moreover, their teams have been formed to facilitate that particular style of play. Yet it is not the easiest brand of football to produce.

On that note, let's take a look at five clubs that have hit the most long balls in the Premier League this season.


#5 Crystal Palace (1271)

Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Crystal Palace have used almost every trick in the bag to defeat their opponents this season. Patrick Vieira, who took hold of the South London club in the summer, instilled young blood into the squad. He has used the experienced bunch of players wisely too.

Since his #PL debut in September 2012, Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke has scored 33 headed goals in the competition, more than any other player in that time#CRYNEW | @CPFC https://t.co/q32hbbSt5g

Players like Conor Gallagher, Michael Olise and Tyrick Mitchell have been the players to watch out for. But centre-backs Joachim Anderson and Marc Guehi are not far behind. The young defensive pair may not excel in playing the ball out from the back but their long-range passing has been exquisite.

It also helps that they have burly centre-forwards like Christian Benteke, Odsonne Edouard and Jordan Ayew to play the ball to. The strike trio, although rarely ever play together, know how to protect the ball and hold up play until the rest of the pack join them. Because of their capabilities, Palace have managed 1271 long balls in 22 games this season.

Although they do not prefer to play directly to the striker, Vieira encourages his side at times to use this approach. The Eagles have often used this method successfully against teams that press them and hold a high defensive line.


#4 Wolverhampton Wanderers (1289)

Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League

Wolverhampton Wanderers have shifted from their pragmatic style of playing to a more eye-catching brand of football this season. New manager Bruno Lage has made certain tweaks to the 3-4-3 formation, which has seen Wolves function much more freely in the attacking phase of the game. They excel in possession and without it too.

🇵🇹 Rúben Neves completed more passes (57), completed more dribbles (3), made more ball recoveries (11) and made more tackles (5) than any other player against Brentford. One of the best midfielders in Europe right now. 🤩 https://t.co/COz7focPeB

They have also started to lessen their dependency on striker Raul Jimenez and operate more through their wingers. It bodes well for the Midlands club that they have several high-flying wingers who are always willing to run hard-yards and play beyond the last man.

Players like Daniel Podence, Adama Traore, Fabio Silva, Francisco Trincao, and Hwang Hee-Chan are always ready to beat their opponent in a foot race. To facilitate them, players like Conor Coady, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves often play the long ball to directly catch the opponent out. This has led to the Molineux club attempting 1289 long balls in 21 games this term.

Wolves know their strengths very well and the long ball is certainly one which they use effectively.

#3 Burnley (1290)

Southampton v Burnley - Premier League
Southampton v Burnley - Premier League

Burnley may be bottom of the Premier League table at the moment but they have always managed to claw their way back up. This is because Sean Dyche has employed a distinctive brand of football at Turf Moor over the last six to seven years. They may not possess the best players but their methods are efficient and effective.

Sean Dyche has used a 4-4-2 for most of his time at Burnley, operating in a defensive manner similar to that of Simeone. Unlike Atlético, Burnley play a lot of long passes. One key aspect of Dyche’s style is connecting play with the front two as quickly as possible... 🧵👥 https://t.co/hoGnmvQhys

Although slightly unorthodox, Burnley operate with two wide wingers and two central front men who can get their heads on the ball when needed. But they often do not play from the back either, courtesy of which they need to hit a long ball to get the ball up the pitch and into the strikers.

Striker Ashley Barnes does an excellent job of receiving an aerial ball. Chris Wood also acted as a brilliant focal point before he joined Newcastle United in January this season.

But that shall not stop Dyche and co from operating this way. So far, however, they have managed 1290 long balls in just 18 games this term.

The Clarets have always played a certain way and their methods have results. Using long balls to your advantage is an innate technique and few pull it off better than them.


#2 Norwich City (1307)

Watford v Norwich City - Premier League
Watford v Norwich City - Premier League

There are a few things Norwich City have been good at this season but they have shown in recent weeks that they are not ready to be relegated just yet. One of the biggest reasons behind it is their effective use of the long ball.

Great to see Adam Idah score for Norwich City to put them 2-0 up against Everton 🇮🇪Hopefully he can get a run in the team under Dean Smith over the next few weeks 🙌Only. 20. Years. Of. Age. https://t.co/rQ4IuS7iVP

Dean Smith has been given the job of keeping the Canaries in the Premier League beyond this campaign and he shall use every method to do so. The English manager has used tall strikers like Adam Idah and Josh Sargent to good use, while he is also churning out the best from Teemu Pukki.

Depending on which strike partnership they play, Idah and Sargent often prefer receiving a long ball as they can head it down to their strike partner. Alternatively, Pukki and Christos Tzolis are effective runners and can play on the shoulder of the defender.

Either way, the long ball has often been utilized to keep their opponents honest. Overall, the Carrow Road outfit have attempted 1307 long balls in 22 matches this season.

Norwich are sometimes a team that appears bereft of ideas. But the long ball strategy often bails them out and could become their reason for Premier League survival.


#1 Brentford (1414)

Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League

Brentford have never felt intimidated by the plight of the Premier League and the newly-promoted side have taken the game to most teams. Strong in possession and strong without it, the Bees have been one of the most resilient sides to watch in the Premier League this season.

💬 Thomas on attacking options"We have offensive quality in the team. I have massive belief in our two strikers, Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo. They look brilliant together. I believe much more will come from them. They are learning every single day"#BrentfordFC #WOLBRE https://t.co/VebS6ODGXE

Manager Thomas Franck had clear ideas of how to use his side's physicality to defeat their opponents. He has used both Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney smartly by playing to their advantage. Both centre-forwards are strong in the air and combine well with each other.

Meanwhile, Ethan Pinnock, Kristoffer Ajer and Christian Norgaard are excellent distributors of the ball. They have often used long balls to transition play from one end to the other in quick succession. It has been so effective that they have played 1414 long balls in 23 games this season.

The Bees are a side most teams would like to avoid, especially because of their effective use of long balls and their capabilities that go along with it.

Edited by Aditya Singh

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