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Are Reputations In Football Too Deceiving?
Footytubeblog (Blog) 4 years ago
No club wants to be known as a long ball side. It’s seen as a boring, negative approach to football that no one likes to watch. But it’s a reputation Stoke City have had for some time now, while West Ham United have been given the unwanted label since returning to the Premier League with the apparent long ball connoisseur Sam Allardyce.

However, is it as negative as people claim and is it actually more effective than people think? It doesn’t take a football expert to tell you long ball football is only suited to the taller teams, and West Ham and Stoke are two of the tallest sides in the Premier League at the moment.

But such a reputation seems to have been somewhat deceiving so far this season. For instance, contrary to popular belief, West Ham and Stoke are far from being long ball merchants in the top-flight so far this season. West Ham average 63 long balls per game and Stoke average 62, which puts them seventh and ninth respectively in those relative standings. It is actually Newcastle who are averaging more long balls per game than anyone else with a whopping 75, eight more than Fulham and Aston Villa who are the league’s second highest long ball teams with 67.

But how have these long balls affected the side and do they have a valid argument as to why they continue to go long? Stoke have won 58% of their aerial duels so far this season with 27.9 aerial duels won per game, while the Hammers have won 53% with an average of 22.9 per game. They both top the table in aerial success in the air, which tells you that, despite not actually being the league’s most regular long ball culprits, they are the most successful when they do go long.

That shows you that, despite unfairly being labelled as long ball teams, they would have a case to argue if they were. The top-flight’s real long ball team, Newcastle, are a side that should concentrate more in playing on the floor more because they have won just 48% of their aerial duels so far this season, with just 17.1 being won per game. That shows you just how deceiving this reputation can be when unfairly handed to teams.

In comparison, West Ham and Stoke have the lowest amount of short passes per games, only worsened by Reading, with 292 and 275 respectively. Newcastle, however, aren’t much better with 323. The so-called long-ball teams might not attempt short passes as much as the others but their approach to the game seems to be a lot more effective than people make out.

Sam Allardyce has been branded a long ball manager for the majority of his career, some of which has been fair, especially when he was at Bolton. But a lot of that comes down to the fact he prefers tall, strong forwards to goal poachers. That’s his preferred style and it’s effective.

When West Ham entertained Stoke at Upton Park last month most people expected it to be one of the most un-aesthetically pleasing matches to watch all season and were under the assumption that it was going to be a long ball contest without much of the game played on the floor.

However, the stats prove otherwise. Of West Ham’s 493 passes that game, just 14% were long balls, while Stoke went long with their 359 passes. In the 1-1 draw, both goals were scored on the floor by the teams expected to use Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch to their advantage. Quite the opposite, which goes some way in proving that people’s perception of them are, in fact, unfair.

So the next time you begin talking about the apparent negative reputation of a team, it might be worth looking up on how true that reputation actually is. You might be surprised with what you discover.

Written By James Jones

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
ILikeTurtles (Arsenal) 4 years ago
INteresting read, haven't been watching much of Newcastle this year but that does surprise me

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