Super subs

Behind the Numbers

This week our statistician looks at Arsenal's super subs.

Theo Walcott broke a club record when he came off the bench against Southampton - becoming Arsenal's most used substitute in Premier League history.

It was the 63rd time he had been used from the bench, surpassing both Dennis Bergkamp and Nicklas Bendtner. Those 63 appearances represent 33.9 per cent of Walcott's Premier League total. He has made 123 starts.

His Arsenal debut, appropriately enough, was as a sub - in the very first game at Emirates Stadium. Back on August 19, 2006, Walcott, then aged 17, came on for Freddie Ljungberg after 73 minutes, and 10 minutes later set up the equalising goal for Gilberto in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Incidentally, Steve Davis was in the Villa side that day, and was also in the Southampton team last weekend at Emirates Stadium, when he too came on as a sub.

Walcott is one of five Arsenal players with more than 50 substitute appearances, with Tomas Rosicky (46) and Aaron Ramsey (44) among the current players closing in on that tally.

"Nicklas Bendtner has made more than 50 per cent of his appearances from the bench"

However, looking at sub appearances as a percentage of total games for the Club, it gives a very different looking top 10.

Only counting players who made 10 or more Premier League outings, it's Paul Shaw who has the highest percentage of sub appearances. The forward represented the Gunners 12 times in the Premier League (between 1996 and 1997) and all but one of them were as a sub.

Carlos Vela too made a very high proportion (89.7 per cent) of his Premier League appearances from the bench. He started just three matches for the Gunners, as opposed to 26 sub outings.

From the current squad, Bendtner has made the highest percentage of his overall league appearances as a sub, with 60.8 per cent (62 of his 102 games).

Although Walcott leads the way in sub appearances for Arsenal, he is well short of the overall Premier League record, held by Shola Ameobi. The Newcastle striker has come off the bench 127 times during his Premier League career. That's nearly half of his 274 games.

Kanu is third place in this overall list; 56 of his 118 Premier League sub appearances were for Arsenal.

Kanu is also the record holder for most Arsenal sub appearances in all competitions (94), though Walcott is now just one away from equalling that, following his introduction against Marseille on Tuesday.

Bendtner is joint third with 83, and is the only player to have played at least 100 games for the Club who made more than 50 per cent of those appearances from the bench (81 starts).


Arsenals Premier League subs (on)

Arsenals Premier League subs



Sub appearances as a percentage of total

Sub appearances as a percentage of total



All time Premier League subs (on)

All time Premier League subs



The club record for players being substituted off in the Premier League belongs to Dennis Bergkamp, who was withdrawn 104 times in all (from 253 starts).

He leads the way from Freddie Ljungberg (94) and Theo Walcott (75). Not surprisingly, midfielders and forwards dominate this list. Lee Dixon is the only defender who was subbed off more than 20 times in his Premier League career.

"Arsenal's most prolific sub in the Premier League era is Kanu"

Again though, it's perhaps more instructive to look at substitutions as a percentage of starts, to see how regularly players are taken off.

Of all the players with at least 10 starts for the Club, Christopher Wreh leads this category. He failed to make it to the final whistle in any of his 10 starts during the 1997/98 and 1998/99 seasons, and was even subbed off after coming on in one game, meaning he was taken off 11 times in all.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been replaced 18 times, and has started 18 times. Again, this includes one instance of being taken off after being brought on, so Oxlade-Chamberlain has completed just one 90 minutes in the Premier League, at home to Southampton last season.

Lukas Podolski has been taken off in 24 of his 26 Premier League starts to date (92.3 per cent).

At the other end of the scale, Paul Dickov is the only outfield player to appear more than 20 times (six starts) for the Club and never get taken off in the Premier League.


Arsenal's Premier League subs (off)

Arsenal's Premier League subs



Subbed off as a percentage of starts

Subbed off as a percentage of starts



All time Premier League subs (off)

All time Premier League subs



So who are the most effective subs?

Arsenal have scored 122 Premier League goals in total from the bench, though just one so far this season (Aaron Ramsey against Norwich).

Those 122 goals represent 8.47 per cent of the Gunners' total in the competition. Arsenal's most prolific sub in the Premier League era is Kanu, who netted nine times after being brought on.

He is also the second top scoring sub in Premier League history, with 17 for his various clubs, four behind Jermain Defoe.

Those nine Arsenal goals off the bench accounted for 30 per cent of Kanu's total for the Club, but Bendtner's eight goals as a sub represents 36.4 per cent of all his Premier League strikes.

Jose Antonio Reyes' record as a substitute was particularly impressive. He scored four goals from the bench, which equates to one goal for every 3.75 substitute appearances. That was better than his strike rate when starting games (one goal in every 4.5 starts).


Most Premier League goals as sub for Arsenal

Most Premier League goals as sub for Arsenal



Most Premier League goals as sub (player)

Most Premier League goals as sub



Most Premier League goals as sub (teams)

Most Premier League goals as sub



With thanks to Opta. Stats correct as at November 29, 2013

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