The English Premier League boasts some of the finest footballing talent in the world, with many players renowned for their stubborn defences and firm control on the ball. Ball possession has long been a strong tactic for fatiguing the opponent, breaking down defences and ultimately scoring goals. Our latest research found that even the biggest names in football can be unreliable on the ball, with some of the Premier League’s most renowned teams also among those most frequently dispossessed.

As the 2019/20 season drew to a close, we were intrigued to reveal exactly which figures fared worse on the ball and suffered the most dispossession, thus qualifying them as the most ‘wasteful’ Premier League clubs and players.

Which was the Most ‘Wasteful’ Premier League Club in the 2019/20 Season?

Most Dispossessed Teams

Crystal Palace proved to be the most wasteful club on the ball, with a staggering total of 479 ball dispossessions in the 2019/20 season, meaning that on average, they give the ball away just over every 7 minutes! With our research revealing Wilfried Zahra and Jordan Ayew to be the two most wasteful players on the ball, Palace’s unfortunate title should come as no surprise to footy fans.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur claimed the title of the second most wasteful club on the ball in 2019/20, having been dispossessed an unimpressive 437 times. This left Spurs shortly behind Palace, losing the ball every 7 minutes and 49 seconds on average. To make matters worse for the North London club, Tottenham appear to have become less reliable on the ball this year, with our data revealing that they suffered 25% more dispossessions than the 2018/19 season!

Placing as the third most wasteful club on the ball was Chelsea, who were dispossessed roughly every 8 minutes and 15 seconds in 2019/20. In total, the club were dispossessed a total of 414 times – a 10% improvement on the season before, but nevertheless a perplexing figure for fans.

Following in Chelsea’s lead, the newly relegated Norwich City were crowned as the fourth most wasteful club on the ball, with The Canaries being dispossessed a grand total of 405 times. Their short stint in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season saw the team give away the ball on average every 8 minutes and 26 seconds, suggesting they aren’t as ‘on the ball’ as their long-standing chant might suggest.

Rounding off the top five most wasteful Premier League clubs in the 2019/20 season was Brighton and Hove Albion, with a total of 399 ball dispossessions – almost a fifth more than the season before! Giving away the ball an average of every 8 and a half minutes of possession, Albion have also become less reliable on the ball this year.

Who was the Most ‘Wasteful’ Premier League Player in the 19/20 Season?

We also sought to identify the most unreliable players in the Premier League during the 2019/20 season, by looking at the players with the highest number of ball dispossessions.

Most Dispossessed Players

Of all Premier League players, Wilfried Zaha took the unfortunate title of 2019/20’s most unreliable player on the ball, racking up a staggering 148 ball dispossessions – the highest by far! Giving the ball away after an average of 23 minutes, Zaha contributed to just over a third of Palace’s total dispossessions during the season.

But it gets worse for Crystal Palace since their very own Jordan Ayew then placed as the second most wasteful player in the 2019/20 season, with a total of 95 ball dispossessions – making up another large proportion of the club’s overall dispossession stats.

Emiliano Buendia placed third, with 80 total ball dispossessions in the 2019/20 season. The Norwich City midfielder was found to give the ball away every 42 minutes and 45 seconds on average, a failure that likely contributed to their relegation this year.

In joint fourth place are Richarlison of Everton and Lucas Moura of Spurs, who were both dispossessed 74 times in total during the 2019/20 season. The title of the fifth most wasteful player was also shared, with Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Wolverhampton’s Raul Jimenez both dispossessed 67 times in 2019/20, giving the ball away every 51 minutes on average.

Despite Salah placing among the most wasteful players, it appears possession isn’t the be all or end all in the Premier League, since his performance for Liverpool still proved to be enough to guarantee their position as the Premier League champions of 2019/20.

Methodology

  1. Using official statistics from the Premier League, Compare.bet discovered which team was the most wasteful with the ball by analysing total ball dispossession figures from the entire 2019/20 season.
  2. Once the total ball dispossession figures for each Premier League team were calculated and ranked from highest to lowest, Compare.bet then calculated an average figure of how often each team gives away the ball during matches in terms of minutes and seconds.
  3. For further detail, Compare.bet the sourced the official statistics from the Premier League site again, but to discover which 10 Premier League players who are the most wasteful with the ball (e.g have the highest number of total ball dispossession each season)
  4. Once the 10 most wasteful players with the ball were established, Compare.bet calculated an average figure of how often each player gives away the ball during matches in terms of minutes and seconds, hence making them some of the most unreliable players with the ball. For example, Wilfried Zaha had the highest number of dispossessions per player this season, so is deemed most unreliable on the ball.