It is fair to say that we are past the days of route one football and “getting it into the mixer” at the earliest opportunity, however that is not to say that the game is strictly played on the floor either. There are plenty of aerial duels in any given Premier League game, the question is who wins the most of them.

If we look at the Premier League if it was ranked on the average amount of aerial battles won, it would look as followed: Thanks to Whoscored for the data.

Rank Team AerialsWon
1 Burnley 27.6
2 Cardiff 26.3
3 Huddersfield 25
4 Everton 23.6
5 Watford 22.6
6 Leicester 22.4
7 Newcastle 21.7
8 Wolves 21.5
9 Brighton 21.4
10 Fulham 20.5
11 Southampton 20.3
12 Bournemouth 19.1
13 Manchester United 18
14 Crystal Palace 17.3
15 West Ham 17.2
16 Tottenham 15.4
17 Manchester City 14.6
18 Arsenal 14.5
19 Liverpool 14.4
20 Chelsea 13.9

It probably comes as no real surprise that Burnley find themselves at the top of the aerial battle charts, Sean Dyche’s men win an average of 27.6 per game. That’s almost one every three minutes and although it doesn’t lend itself to the prettiest football, it can certainly be effective at the same time.

And if we were to ask ourselves a hypothesis that said “teams at the bottom of the Premier League table, win more aerial battles then those at the top” then it is probably one that would be more right than wrong, but by how much exactly.

Next we will take that same list of 20 teams and also add in their league ranking:

Rank Team League AerialsWon
1 Burnley 15 27.6
2 Cardiff 17 26.3
3 Huddersfield 20 25
4 Everton 9 23.6
5 Watford 8 22.6
6 Leicester 12 22.4
7 Newcastle 16 21.7
8 Wolves 7 21.5
9 Brighton 14 21.4
10 Fulham 19 20.5
11 Southampton 18 20.3
12 Bournemouth 11 19.1
13 Manchester United 4 18
14 Crystal Palace 13 17.3
15 West Ham 10 17.2
16 Tottenham 3 15.4
17 Manchester City 1 14.6
18 Arsenal 5 14.5
19 Liverpool 2 14.4
20 Chelsea 6 13.9

Here no-one will be surprised at the fact that the five teams that that win the fewest aerial battles per Premier League game occupy places in the top six of the division, with it only being Manchester United that have managed to buck this particular trend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men seem to be a bit busier in their air compared to their ‘Big Six’ counterparts – they lie 13th in the rankings, although still well within our hypothesis range of the teams being at the top of the table winning the least aerial battles.

Now for this to be perfectly true, you would need the top 10 in the Premier League to be in the bottom half of the aerial battle table and then vice versa and as you can see above that arrangement is not quite where we want it to be.

So let’s have a look at the split in percentage terms:

70% of the teams in the bottom half of the Premier League find themselves in the top 10 of aerial battles won
30% of the teams in the bottom half of the Premier League find themselves in the bottom 10 of aerial battles won.

So which three teams are bucking the trend?

Southampton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace are three teams that play more appealing football then their current league placing suggests and although they are still gambling on whether they will stay in the Premier League this season, it’s never a gamble when you visit

And which top half teams like to mix it up in the air?

Wolves, Watford and Evertaon are not afraid of getting the ball in the clouds if need be and what is interesting here is the fact that they all 7th through to 9th in the Premier League table at the time of writing, therefore there are a neat bracket of teams that are competing for a Europa League slot and have identified that an aerial fight or two, may be the best way to reach that objective.

So what happens when we compare the two metrics together and look at the variance between them, it means our aerial battles vs Premier League table looks as follows (in order of variance)

Rank Team League/Rank
3 Huddersfield -17
2 Cardiff -15
1 Burnley -14
7 Newcastle -9
10 Fulham -9
11 Southampton -7
6 Leicester -6
4 Everton -5
9 Brighton -5
5 Watford -3
8 Wolves 1
12 Bournemouth 1
14 Crystal Palace 1
15 West Ham 5
13 Manchester United 9
16 Tottenham 13
18 Arsenal 13
20 Chelsea 14
17 Manchester City 16
19 Liverpool 17

If we look at the variance between the two metrics then we see a couple of trends now appear – before when Manchester United were the ‘Big Six’ anomaly in terms of winning aerial battles, now when we look at it terms of variance then all of the ‘Big Six’ occupy the bottom six slots in the above table.

While at the sharper end of proceedings, the bottom six of the Premier League table have the largest variance between the amount of aerial battles won and their league placing. So although it is not in exact order, we can see polar opposites between the teams at the top and the relegation fodder.

What is staggering is that Burnley almost win 100% more aerial battles than Chelsea do in a Premier League game, but when we look at the landscape of the table in real life, it shows that the more neat and tidy football you can play then the better your overall fortunes.


I am always available for any football data projects you may have and/or content creation.
If you have any requirements then please feel free to contact me at with the subject line “Football Data”

I am also available via twitter at @dantracey1983 – again feel free to get in touch to discuss any work. Thanks, Dan