The tallest and the shortest players and teams in the Premier League and how things (haven’t) changed over the years
English football and headers make up for tale as old as time. It’s a widely renowned stereotype about English football that the focus is too much on hoofing the ball and aerial battles. The stereotype took a nosedive in recent years, with more and more teams switching to the modern approach of playing the ball out from the back for better or worse.
In this article, I’ll take a look at the current situation height-wise and if things changed from the beginning of the century.
The first award of the day goes to the team with the tallest height average in the squad. And just as you’d probably imagined, Crystal Palace takes the cake! Good ol’ Roy sticks to his guns even in the most difficult days and the average height of 1,853m dominates the league. They are the only team with an average above 1,85m. With their mid-table position, it seems as if height actually can make up for their sad attacking output in one way or another.
Not even Yerry Mina’s heroic efforts of being 1,95m but looking 2.05m could push the Toffees over the top.
The Eagles, along with Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth, have the most players over 1,9m… not that it makes a positive difference for any of them.
And then – the shock. The horror.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a 1,87m striker, scored more headers than the entire Palace squad put together this season.
But enough shitting on Palace, there are bigger things to deal with here. And it doesn’t get any bigger than Dan Burn, the tallest man in the building. The big fella proudly stands as the only player in the league above 2.01m, profiting the most from Crouchy’s retirement. Jannik Vestergaard and Matt Macey come up just short with 1,99.
Very expectedly, Burnley won both the most aerial battles this season in total, as well as per game. Chris Wood confirms this with the league-leading five headed goals.
As far as the shortest players go, Ryan Fraser and Chelsea’s one-45-minutes-wonder, Tariq Lamptey, take the cake with 1.63m, just a centimeter shorter of Everton’s Bernard. I, for one, was very surprised to see that Christian Atsu is just 1.65m.
To nobody’s surprise, the league’s shortest team is Manchester City with 1,806 meters of average height. Wolves are a close second at 1,809.
Everything stays the same
Going back 10 years, all the way to the 2009/10, a season of Chelsea’s comeback, things haven’t changed much. The average height of the players was 1 centimeter taller. From the trivia aspect, I was disappointed to see Brede Hangeland with 1,99m failing to join Crouch and Stefan Maierhofer who were both over 2 meters.
But then, searching for something spectacular to latch onto, I went back to 1999/00… and found nothing. The average height remained very similar to today’s standard. However, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday rose above 1,87m in that season. Aston Villa went small-ball with an average height of 1,803, but the overall landscape of the league was similar to what it is today.
All in all, the Premier League managers weren’t much different about picking the players based on their height 20 years ago than they are now. Truth be told, it probably is a lot harder for the big guys nowadays. The football is faster, requiring them to read the game much better as they have to make up for the lack of speed compared to the shorter and more agile players. But, they’ll find their way as they always did, and Dan Burns of the world still run proudly out there on the pitch, resisting the change.