Some substitutions are more impactful than others, with certain players almost seeming tailor-made to changing games from the bench.

The grass can always seem greener. If a team isn’t doing the business on the pitch, minds can start to wander to those on the bench and how they could change the game in their side’s favour.

Sometimes, they can change a game in exactly the way you imagine.

Following Chelsea’s 3-2 win over Newcastle United on Monday, there have been 2,192 substitutions made by Premier League clubs this season. Some have worked; some haven’t.

We’ve decided to look at those who have fully justified their manager’s faith – or arguably shown why he was wrong not to start them in the first place – by coming off the bench to impact Premier League games in 2023-24.

Most Goal Involvements

Substitutes don’t always have to score or assist a goal to have an impact on a game, but it certainly helps.

Someone who has helped his team plenty in terms of goal involvements has been Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey, who has contributed to six goals (two goals, four assists) from the bench in 11 sub appearances. These have been spread across six games (goals vs Crystal Palace and West Ham; assists vs Luton, Fulham, Brentford and Newcastle), meaning Bailey has a goal involvement in more than half of his appearances from the bench this season.

The knock-on effect is that Bailey has forced his way into Unai Emery’s starting lineup, so he has only made one sub appearance since the turn of the year.

Four players have recorded five goal involvements, including Brighton’s João Pedro and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay, both of whom boast the most goals scored by a sub in the Premier League in 2023-24 (four).

Liverpool have used their subs particularly well this season, especially Darwin Núñez (three goals, two assists), while Tottenham’s Brennan Johnson (two goals, three assists) has also effectively helped his team from the bench.

Núñez’s teammate Cody Gakpo (two goals, two assists), Wolves’ Pablo Sarabia (two goals, two assists), Fulham’s Harry Wilson (one goal, three assists) and Crystal Palace’s Jean-Philippe Mateta (one goal, three assists) have all claimed four goal involvements as subs, with Sarabia doing so in just six appearances from the bench (176 minutes).

Most goal involvements by subs PL 23-24

Honourable mentions should also go to Burnley loanee David Datro Fofana, Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who all have three goal involvements despite having played fewer than 90 total minutes each as substitutes (Fofana – 2G+1A from 70 mins, Martinelli – 3G from 77 mins, De Bruyne – 1G+2A from 82 mins).

You might believe it’s the thought that counts, though, for which Brighton’s Ansu Fati – on loan from Barcelona – should be given some credit. Despite his time on England’s south coast being interrupted by injury, the Spain international has totalled the highest expected goals (xG) total as a sub this season, with 2.63 (scoring twice).

Only four other players have more than 2.0 xG as a substitute, those being Gakpo (2.47), Beto (2.20) and João Pedro (2.09).

Most Points Won

Goals from substitutes are all well and good, but which ones have actually turned games around?

Scott McTominay has actually been the most impactful, winning Manchester United seven points with his four goals in 11 sub appearances – almost 15% of the club’s points total this season, making an argument that he could well be one of Erik ten Hag’s most important players. His two late goals against Brentford at Old Trafford in October turned a possible defeat into a win, while recent goals away at Wolves and Aston Villa helped seal wins that may otherwise have been draws.

Darwin Núñez has a growing reputation for unsubtly impacting games for Liverpool and is second in this list having scored goals off the bench that have helped earn five points for the Reds. His brace as a sub led to a dramatic 2-1 turnaround at Newcastle in August, while his 99th-minute header at Nottingham Forest in early March snatched a vital late 1-0 win.

Former Forest man Johnson is starting to become a key figure for Ange Postecoglou and Tottenham and has won four points from the bench, having scored in a 3-2 win over Brentford in late January before netting a stoppage-time winner against Brighton 10 days later.

Though he was loaned to Eintracht Frankfurt in January, Sasa Kalajdzic also won four points for Wolves when he contributed to wins over Everton and Bournemouth in the first half of the campaign with goals from the bench.

Most points won by sub PL 23-24

Most Sub Appearances

This doesn’t necessarily guarantee an impact, but those players that managers keep turning to again and again are presumably having some effect.

The man who has been told to go and do a vigorous warm-up prior to coming on most often in the Premier League this season is Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who has made 20 appearances from the bench, two more than any other player. He has also amassed 657 minutes on the pitch after coming on, over 100 more than any other player. The Denmark international has zero goal involvements as a sub, but Ange Postecoglou must be seeing something crucial in his role given he has turned to him so often. Højbjerg might be slightly miffed to have only made six starts in the league, mind.

Tied on 18 sub appearances are Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott (534 minutes) and Wolves’ Matt Doherty (504 minutes). Elliott has had a breakout season under Jürgen Klopp, and his performances coupled with an injury crisis have led to several starts in recent games. The 20-year-old has a goal and two assists from his appearances from the bench, including a late winner at Crystal Palace.

Doherty has just one goal involvement as a sub this season, but it was also a dramatic late winner, securing a 2-1 victory against Chelsea on Christmas Eve.

Three players are level on 16 substitute appearances in the Premier League this season – Crystal Palace’s Naouirou Ahamada (373 mins), Everton’s Beto (365 mins) and Burnley’s Jacob Bruun Larsen.

Most Chances Created

Though we usually reserve most praise for subs who get their name on the scoresheet or provide the final ball for a goal, sometimes a manager just wants them to go on and make things happen.

Those who have produced bursts of creativity bring us back full circle to Leon Bailey, who has created 15 chances as a sub for Villa, including 13 from open play, both of which are league-highs. The Jamaica international has laid on four big chances – a chance from which the attacking team would be expected to score – as well, which is also a league-high.

Burnley’s Jóhann Gudmundsson is perhaps a surprise second in the list for creating chances, having only made eight sub appearances (281 mins), though four of his 13 chances created came from set-pieces. Second to Bailey for chances created from open play is Bournemouth’s Luis Sinisterra, with 10.

Another Bournemouth player, Dango Ouattara, and Liverpool’s Elliott have created eight chances each (seven from open play), while Mateta, Wilson and João Pedro have also recorded eight created chances, all from open play.

In joint-second place to Bailey for big chances created – with three each – are Wilson, Johnson, Philip Billing, Andy Robertson, Divock Origi and Anthony Gordon.

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