Football is as intense and fast-paced as ever, and so the game demands a lot physically from its players.
More than anywhere, this is the case in the Premier League, where players must cover vast amounts of ground throughout games.
But who is the ‘marathon man’ at each Premier League club and how effective is he in covering distance for his team?
Well, with help from Opta, we’ve taken a look at the three players with the most distance covered at each Premier League club for you. Here they are:
Player: Granit Xhaka
Distance covered (km): 244.21
Distance covered (per 90): 11.66
Surprisingly at Arsenal, they’re ‘marathon man’ is Granit Xhaka. Since his move to north London in the summer of 2016, Xhaka has never been viewed as one of Arsenal’s more mobile midfielders.
But that hasn’t stopped him from topping Arsenal’s running charts. An aspect to his game they may miss as he is currently out injured.
This season, Arsenal’s best spell came when Xhaka was paired with Lucas Torreira in midfield. The Uruguayan sits in second for distance covered at the club. He does have a higher distance covered per 90, however, at 10.76. A feature of his game that has been noticeable since he slotted into the Arsenal midfield this summer.
Player: Ryan Fraser
Distance covered (km): 251.26
Distance covered (per 90): 11.11
For many people this season, Ryan Fraser has been a dream. Booming up and down Bournemouth’s left wing, he has been key when the Cherries have been on form this season. The Scot currently has five goals and is second in the Premier League assists rankings with nine. Eddie Howe will be hoping for similar output from Fraser in the second half of the season as his team look to rediscover consistent form.
The inconsistency at Bournemouth can be seen as the closest players to Fraser in terms of distance covered are centre-backs Steve Cook and Nathan Ake. The pair run on average 9.6km and 9.7km’s a game. In 10th place, Bournemouth are far from danger but maybe a more evenly spread workload could help them mount a challenge to properly pierce the top 10.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Player: Davy Propper
Distance covered (km): 235.04
Distance covered (per 90): 11.34
Last season, Davy Propper proved key to Brighton’s survival as he added industry to their midfield. This season he has continued in a similar light as he covers the midfield spaces well for Chris Hughton’s side.
However, another key to Brighton’s play are their wingers. Often times they choose to attack quickly down the flanks, which is reflected in their second-highest runner, Solly March. Nowadays wingers have to contribute equally in attack and defence, which is demonstrated by March’s average of 10.39 km per 90. This style of play has seen March pick up five Premier League assists this season.
Player: Jack Cork
Distance covered (km): 287.136
Distance covered (per 90): 12.05
Similar to Brighton, a lot of Burnley’s running will be done in defence. And so it is no surprise to see defensive midfielder Jack Cork topping their running charts. He averages the second-highest distance covered in the league, a lot of which will be plugging holes in front of the Burnley defence.
Ben Mee being their second highest runner with 244.16, however, underlines Cork’s extraordinary efforts. But with one of their main midfielders covering so much ground, this may have led to more spaces opening up for Burnley’s opponents to exploit, as they currently sit in 17th place.
Player: Victor Camarasa
Distance covered (km): 224.34
Distance covered (per 90): 10.70
A player who has been used centrally as well as out wide, Camarasa has been Cardiff’s marathon man so far this season. The Spaniard is on loan at the club from Real Betis but has made a telling impact for the Bluebirds in scoring three goals so far this season, including a last-minute winner at Leicester.
With Cardiff fighting relegation, that second wind Camarasa seems to possess could definitely help in the second half of the season.
Player: N’Golo Kanté
Distance covered (km): 294.19
Distance covered (per 90): 11.87
No surprises here. N’Golo Kanté is Chelsea’s top runner.
Much has been made about Kanté’s role change this season, but has it changed that much? He is still the hardest worker at Chelsea and playing in the right of Sarri’s midfield three allows him to do his job from box to box.
With Jorginho moving into the sitting role, he is second on Chelsea’s list with 277.24km run in total. However, we all know the former Napoli midfielder’s focus is to find spaces to get onto the ball more than sweeping up in front of the defence.
Player: Luka Miliovojevic
Distance covered (km): 294.72
Distance covered (per 90): 11.78
A rock in the Crystal Palace midfield, Miliovojevic is also their most active runner. The Serbian has been a standout player at Selhurst Park since his arrival in January 2017 and continues to make his presence known, whether from dead-ball situations or while patrolling the space in front of his defence.
James McArthur is has run the second furthest at the club with 271.30km as Palace’s more pro-active, pressing midfielder without possession.
Player: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Distance covered (km): 268.07
Distance covered (per 90): 11.66
The numbers serve up another surprise as Gylfi Sigurdsson tops Everton’s list. However, this season he has been getting into the box more, resulting in nine goals. His improved form is a rare highlight in a season that hasn’t been great for Everton in all honesty.
Player: Jean-Micheal Seri
Distance covered (km): 245.09
Distance covered (per 90): 11.47
Fulham haven’t had the best of seasons and neither has Jean-Michael Seri. Joining from Nice with a big reputation, he has performed in some aspects like distance covered but not quite with the ball at his feet.
Fulham went into a spending frenzy in the summer. Despite the fact many players signed seemed suited to the Premier League, getting them to gel has proved a difficult task for both Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieiri.
Player: Phillip Billing
Distance covered (km): 251.04
Distance covered (per 90): 11.83
In a season that has been largely disappointing for Huddersfield, Billing has been a bright spark. The midfielder looks to have developed well in the Premier League despite his team not performing well and this is shown in his running stats.
In his 18 months in the Premier League, he’s shown he can handle the physical and technical demands. Should the Terriers go down, it may be hard to keep him.
Player: Wilfred Ndidi
Distance covered (km): 274.58
Distance covered (per 90): 11.14
Continuing with the theme of midfielders, this – as well as second-place Nampalys Mendy – could have been expected. However, even with these two topping the running charts, they just haven’t seemed able to replace N’Golo Kanté since his move to Chelsea.
Player: Roberto Firmino
Distance covered (km): 252.24
Distance covered (per 90): 11.65
Jurgen Klopp’s fingerprints (and playing style) are all over this. While defending from the front, Firmino has put in tireless shifts for Liverpool. At the start of the season, it was thought these demands could affect his scoring but he has still chipped in with nine league goals this season.
Flying down the left, Andy Robertson is second in the charts, averaging 10.59km per 90. As one of Klopp’s incredibly dangerous full-backs, he has been key to their title challenge this season with five assists.
Player: Bernardo Silva
Distance covered (km): 258.27
Distance covered (per 90): 12.26
At first glance, Bernardo Silva looked to be a luxury signing when he moved to Manchester City last season. However, this season he has been incredibly valuable to Pep Guardiola as his side creep ever-closer to leaders Liverpool. Silva has displayed time and again his willingness to contribute both in attack and defence, which is why Pep likes him so much.
Player: Nemanja Matic
Distance covered (km): 252.37
Distance covered (per 90): 11.66
Similar to Granit Xhaka at Arsenal, this may be a shock to some. As someone entering the twilight of his career, Matic would not appear to be a midfielder who can get about the pitch with ease. However, the numbers dispute this assumption. Whether this will continue now that José Mourinho is gone, we’ll have to see.
Especially as Paul Pogba who is second with 10.73km per 90 is starting to find form again.
Player: Matt Ritchie
Distance covered (km): 233.37
Distance covered (per 90): 11.52
These numbers reveal a couple of things. Firstly, Ritchie is Newcastle’s top runner but has covered significantly less ground than the other players on this list. This paints a picture of how conservative Rafa Benitez has been at times this season.
It appears Ritchie – who has played as a makeshift full-back at times this season – is one of the Magpies’ primary attacking outlets.
The fact DeAndre Yedlin averages the third-most distance covered (10.38) shows how much Newcastle like to play down the flanks and that their wide defenders have the greatest workload.
Player: Nathan Redmond
Distance covered (km): 248.42
Distance covered (per 90): 10.39
One of Southampton’s most improved players under Ralph Hassenhutll, Redmond’s movement on the field is clear for everyone to see. Mostly used out wide, he has excelled in moving into central areas where he has been very influential recently.
Player: Toby Alderweireld
Distance covered (km): 240.32
Distance covered (per 90): 10.49
Although Alderweireld has the highest total in terms of distance covered, Christian Eriksen’s numbers are more impressive. The Dane averages 12.41km per 90, which illustrates the variation in his play this season.
Often he has been asked to play deeper than usual, which he has excelled in doing. It has allowed Eriksen to control games more often, which has seen Tottenham creep into the possibility of a title race.
Player: Roberto Pereyra
Distance covered (km): 260.23
Distance covered (per 90): 11.25
Pereyra grabs the eye for what he can do with the ball at his feet. However, after a blistering individual start to the season, he’s shown that his work ethic is something that should also be admired. He currently has six goals this season but will probably need more to help Watford progress higher up the table.
West Ham United
Player: Felipe Anderson
Distance covered (km): 250.78
Distance covered (per 90): 10.77
Like Peyreyra, Felipe Anderson might not have been a name that would’ve been expected to be mentioned. But after a rocky introduction at West Ham, he has adapted incredibly well which has shown both on and off the ball.
He is one of just two players in the league to complete 40+ take-ons and made 40+ tackles. The other is Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Crystal Palace.
Player: Matt Doherty
Distance covered (km): 255.34
Distance covered (per 90): 10.74
Like many other players, Matt Doherty’s inclusion very much shows how his manager wants to play football. When Wolves line up with a back three, as they often do, Doherty plays as their right wing back, tasked with winning every ball on his flank both in attack and defence. Currently, he stands as one of Nuno Espirito Santo’s most important players so he seems to get his manager’s message loud and clear.