One of the best sights in football is when a team gets the ball out to their winger, who runs straight at a full back making the defender look like he’s never played football before.
Wide play is a key tactic that any side will use as a main attacking weapon. Sides will often play wider when they have a lot of wingers in their squad or against a team that is very narrow at the back, perhaps using only three centre backs across their defence.
Here are the five widest teams, with the highest percentage of build up play coming down their flanks this season.
Sunderland – 75%
Sunderland are playing very wide football at the moment, which isn’t a major surprise because they have some very good wide players. Adam Johnson built his initial Premier League reputation on being a top quality winger and the side also has a lot of pace with the likes of Emanuele Giaccherini playing down either flank.
Manchester United – 74%
David Moyes has several top quality wingers at his disposal; Antonio Valencia, Nani, Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj as well as other top quality stars who can play in wide areas. United have a lot of pace down either side of the pitch so it’s not surprising they utilise that regularly.
Hull City – 74%
Robbie Brady is probably the main reason Hull City get the ball out to their left flank as quickly as possible at the moment. Hull also have two very aggressive and forward thinking full backs in the form of Liam Rosenior and Maynor Figueroa who provide additional width on each side.
West Ham United – 74%
A little surprising considering the reputation Sam Allardyce has for getting his teams to play direct, straight up the middle football. Stuart Downing, Ricardo Vaz Te and Matt Taylor coming off the bench mean West Ham have some great natural width.
Everton – 73%
Everton are very strong down both the left and right. Leighton Baines getting forward on the left allows any of the central midfielders to drift to that side and help out, while Kevin Mirallas has transformed himself into a very consistent winger for the club, able to play down either flank.
Are you surprised any of these sides play wide football frequently?
image: © Ben Andreas Harding