Chelsea’s domination at set pieces, shortly after Burnley and Southampton had bullied us into losses, got me to wondering whether Leicester city are the shortest Premier League team.
The short answer, if that’s all you want, is “no”: Manchester City are the shortest, Crystal Palace the tallest. The medium length answer is “maybe”, and the dreaded long answer is “does it really matter, though?”
I put together a weighted average height of the outfield players for each team in the league (full list at the bottom). The more minutes a player has played, the more their height counts towards the team average.
This gives a rough idea of how tall the “average” lineup for each team was over the season so far.
Manchester City, not Leicester, were the shortest, at 178.9cm, followed by Bournemouth and then the Foxes. Those three were the only teams below 180cm, compared to a league average of 181.6.
By the current numbers, Man City have the first claim to this title, but it probably won’t stay that way. Their tallest outfield player, Aymeric Laporte, has missed most of the season, but is now back to playing.
If we expect him to replace one of the considerably shorter Nicolas Otamendi or Fernandinho for the rest of the season, the Foxes may well end the season “shorter”. At least by this measure.
Bournemouth are also very marginally shorter, but their numbers are really dragged down by giving consistent playing time to the league’s shortest player Ryan Fraser.
In comparison, our only real height outlier is Nampalys Mendy, who is taller than the scot and has been very sparingly used. Based on that, yes, there’s certainly an argument that Leicester are the shortest team in the Premier League.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER, THOUGH?
It certainly felt like it mattered in the last game, but what impact does height really have on a full season?
The teams shorter than us include one of the country’s most dominant sides over recent years and...Bournemouth. We can certainly says it’s possible to be good or bad while short.
It’s not just league position either. Height doesn’t seem to have much affect on statistics, even the ones you’d really expect them to.
Man City have a better win % from aerial contests than Aston Villa or Watford, the league’s 2nd and 3rd tallest teams. The best in aerial % are Brighton, right about the middle of the pack for height. Liverpool and Norwich differ by just 0.1cm, but are 2nd and 20th aerially.
At 49.6&, the Foxes are very slightly below average in the air from open play. Certainly not bad for their stature. Despite the Rudiger blip, they’re also doing better than average from set pieces - both scoring and preventing goals.
Liverpool have been dominant in that area despite a low average height, mostly thanks to the towering Virgil van Dijk. Could the key be a tall individuals, rather than a team?
Harry Maguire had the highest aerial duel win rate of any defender to contest at least 30 in the 2018-19 Premier League season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 5, 2019
• 151 contested
• 118 won
• 78.1% success
Slabhead is the most expensive defender in history. pic.twitter.com/nFAqWFpOJD
Only the Foxes, Arsenal and Spurs have yet to field a player more than 190cm, while both of the North London clubs have taller players than Leicester’s tallest Jonny Evans.
Of course, all three teams are in the top half of the league.
Yes, ideally we’d have a couple of taller players - a Harry Maguire style target to aim at from set pieces - but ultimately, it doesn’t seem to matter that we’re a little shorter than perfect.
Where possible, all heights came from whoscored.com although this wasn’t possible for all players - Matty Longstaff was listed at 0cm, which felt a bit off. These numbers are for outfield players only.
Team Height (cm)
Crystal Palace - 184.2
Watford - 183.8
Aston Villa - 183.1
Tottenham Hotspur - 182.7
Sheffield United - 182.4
Everton - 182.2
Burnley - 182.2
Brighton and Hove Albion - 182.0
Wolverhampton Wanderers - 181.9
Arsenal - 181.6
Newcastle United - 181.4
Manchester United - 181.3
Chelsea - 180.9
Liverpool - 180.7
Norwich City - 180.6
Southampton - 180.4
Leicester City - 179.6
AFC Bournemouth - 179.5
Manchester City - 178.9