Possession is not always a guarantee of success, but the top teams more often than not dominate the ball.
The modern era has seen some of the greatest teams thrive with a possession-heavy approach, with Pep Guardiola among the coaches to demand that his team suffocate opposition sides with a monopoly of the ball.
After all, opposition sides can’t score if they don’t have the ball and these five teams have done a fine job in dominating the play during the opening weeks of the campaign. We’ve looked at the five teams with the highest average possession across England’s top four divisions this season.
The five teams with the highest average possession in English football this season:
5. Notts Country (58.8%)
Notts County secured their return to the Football League last season after winning the National League Play-Offs, having missed out on the fifth-tier title to Wrexham despite amassing 107 points.
Luke Williams’ team are now chasing back-to-back promotions and are second in League Two, just two points behind leaders Stockport County. No side in the fourth tier has had more of the ball on average than Notts Country (58.8%), who edge out Arsenal (58.4%), Tottenham (58.4%) and Brighton (57.8%) to make the top five.
📈 Notts County currently sit 2nd in League 2 just months after promotion from the National League.
❌ They also have the 3rd worst defence in the division, shipping 25 goals in 13 games.
I love the Football League 😂
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) October 14, 2023
A leaky defence must be fixed however, if The Magpies are to have a shot at promotion.
4. Chelsea (59.9%)
Chelsea might not have truly clicked into gear under Mauricio Pochettino, but there have been encouraging signs.
The west Londoners are the only team in the Premier League to have won every game on xG this season in all competitions, while the Blues have had the lion’s share of possession in league games with an average possession of 59.9%.
Three Chelsea players, Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva and Enzo Fernandez, rank in the Premier League’s top seven players for touches this season.
3. Southampton (60.6%)
Southampton turned to Russel Martin during the summer after relegation from the Premier League, with the 37-year-old having earned admirers for the attractive football he implemented at MK Dons and Swansea.
Last season, Swansea completed 1,323 more passes than any other team in the Championship and Martin’s philosophy can already be seen at Southampton, despite mixed results.
The Saints have averaged more than 60% of the possession so far this season and have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, bouncing back from a run of four straight losses to take seven points from their last three games. They’re up to 10th in the Championship, just a point outside the play-offs.
2. Manchester City (61.1%)
Manchester City’s appearance on this list will surprise few, with Pep Guardiola’s success having been built on an approach that demands his team dominate opponents.
City have passed opposition teams into submission in recent seasons, a period which has seen the Citizens win five of the last six Premier League titles to take a stranglehold on English football.
However, they’re only second on this particular list…
1. Leicester City (61.2%)
It’s a Guardiola disciple who has taken top spot from Manchester City over the season’s opening weeks, with Enzo Maresca’s Leicester City having had more possession than any other team in England’s top four divisions this season.
Maresca took charge of the relegated Foxes during the summer after two separate spells working on Guardiola’s coaching staff at the Etihad, and the 43-year-old has made a superb start at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester City’s start to the Championship season under new manager Enzo Maresca:
-10 wins and 1 loss in 11
-23 goals scored — only Ipswich (25) have more
-6 goals conceded — 5 fewer than Leeds and Birmingham City
-2 points above Ipswich and 10 above third-placed Preston pic.twitter.com/aCVSClZyos
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) October 12, 2023
Leicester are top of the Championship table and already cruising towards an instant return to the Premier League, having won 10 of their opening 11 fixtures to open up a 10-point gap to third-placed Preston in the race for automatic promotion.
Maresca’s men are on a six-game winning run right now and achieving results with a style that has certainly been easy on the eye.
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