The substitute has long been a tactical tool rather than a compassionate one (for injuries) so I thought I’d take a look at how different clubs in the Premier League used their substitutes last season. I suspect that data for this season would probably look very similar to this.
As you’d expect very few subtitutions are made during the first half. If we assume that all substitutions made in the first half are due to injury then I think the first half stats are quite interesting. If players get injured before the 35th minute it appears that they are substituted. However, if they are injured a few minutes later they are given a few more minutes until half-time (and the fifteen minute break) to recover.
Last season 128 players came on during the half-time interval in the Premier League. Many of these were undoubtedly due to injuries sustained in the first-half, though I suspect the bulk of them were bold tactical moves from teams looking to claw back deficits. The most popular range to bring on players is 76-80. The most popular minute to bring on a player, if you exclude the 90th minute (last minute is often longer due to injury time) and half-time is the 76th minute.
The above table shows the number of substitutions each Premier League side made as well as the average minute on which a subtitution was made. Each club had a permitted 114 substitutions to make each season (3 subs x 38 games) and most took full advantage of that with Bolton, Chelsea and West Brom making 107 substitutions last season. These three clubs left only seven substitutes unused during the campaign. The table also demonstrates that Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp appears to like making changes on the pitch as well as off it.