Which is the 'narrowest' team in the Premier League?

Swansea City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Newcastle United all feature.

Playing narrow is a good tactic to use against teams that are weak through the heart of their defence.

A manager will often get his side to play ‘narrow’ football against teams that have central defenders who haven’t played much football together or sides that have aggressive full backs who often leave the centre backs exposed.

It’s also a very good tactic for sides to use that have several good central midfield players on the ball and quick forwards, ready to race onto any through ball sent through the heart of the defence.

Here are the five narrowest teams in the Premier League this season, with the highest percentage of build up play coming from a central areas.

Swansea City – 36%

Swansea topping the list isn’t surprising because Michael Laudrup likes his team to dominate possession in the middle of the pitch. Swansea also have two very good centre forwards in Michu and Wilfried Bony, who can hold the ball up when it’s played up to them in central areas.

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Chelsea – 32%

Chelsea is unsurprising because both Andre Schurrle and Willian have been used inconsistently this season. Chelsea are not a side that base their play primarily around wingers and nor should they with the likes of Oscar, Juan Mata, Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard able to play through the middle.

Arsenal – 32%

Another unsurprising team to appear in the top five. Arsenal have one of the best groups, if not the best, of central midfielders in the Premier Leagues and both of their primary wide players, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, have been injured for large parts of the season.

Aston Villa – 31%

It’s a little surprising to see Aston Villa playing narrow football because of the pace and counter attacking ability they have in wide areas. However, they have Christian Benteke in attack, a player who loves to receive the ball through the middle of the pitch as quickly as possible.

Newcastle United – 31%

Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote, Moussa Sissoko and even Hatem Ben Arfa can all drift into narrow positions and play through the middle of Newcastle’s team. Alan Pardew sometimes likes his teams to be very direct and there is nothing negative in that at all.

Are you surprised with any of the teams on that list?

image: © swans100

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