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PREMIER LEAGUE

How many substitutions can be made during a game in the Premier League?

It’s been trialled before, and has been hotly debated by the big and small club managers across the league, but now it seems here to stay.

Update:
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Richarlison of Tottenham Hotspur is substituted on for team mate Son Heung-Min during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on August 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Catherine IvillGetty

With the 2022-23 Premier League underway, it appears that not every fan is clear about one of the changes that has come into effect. As of this season, each team will be allowed to make five substitutions during a game.

Premier League managers allowed five changes

Although we’ve been used to three substitutions for a while, the English top flight has been slowing increasing the options for managers since its launch in 1992. Even back then, the rule allowed for two outfield substitutes in the squad as well as a goalkeeper, and we’ve seen that adapted to what was in place last season with any three players permitted to come on from the squad list. Now, two more will be added, with a total of nine substitutes being named, up from seven.

Following an agreement between the clubs at a meeting in summer the quota of five will provide managers with extra options to play around with their game plan. It should be noted, however, that although the number of players that can be used has increased, this still must be actioned in only three occasions during the game, as well as at half-time.

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Who will five substitutes benefit?

Most if the critics of the increased number of substitutes have pointed to the advantage it provides the top teams who, it is argued, will have more quality on the bench and will therefore be able to maintain the overall high level of the first team while freshening things up. I have another take although, as with most discussions in football, it is more nuanced that the simple narrative often pushed for rage-tripping headlines.

The value of the five subs will depend on each fixture and how each team sets up. Even a first choice XI from the recently dominant pair of Manchester City and Liverpool struggle at times to break down a dogged side set up to defend first and counter second. That could become increasing difficult for them if the defensive lines are reinvigorated with fresh legs, players looking to hold onto a draw or sprint free.

Time will tell if this turns out to be a good decision that can work in the favour of all types of game management. But given the fact that more and more is expected of these global stars, and that we demand them to be at their absolute best for every minute they pull on the shirt, I believe it is a very sensible move.