Is the Premier League more defensive than ever?

Kenny Cunningham weighs in on the debate...

BY Joseph Conroy 22:09 Wednesday 20 September 2017, 22:09 20 Sep 2017

Richard Sellers/EMPICS Sport

Last week Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho declared that English top-flight football has never been more defensive.

When you look at the hard numbers his claim seems dubious, during the 25 years of the Premiership / Premier League, the average amount of goals per game has not fluctuated greatly - it's generally clocked in between 2.6-2.8 per 90 minutes.

Last season's average was just below three goals.

"He thinks it's harder to score goals now, I think you could easily argue the opposite because I look at teams now ... We talk about teams playing a really open expansive game making the pitch as big as possible. Taking risks in all areas of the pitch, particularly in their own half of the pitch. That's the type of game which lends itself to more a free-scoring kind of football," Kenny Cunningham told Off The Ball.

Looking at modern football, he believes that traditional physical center backs have been left behind:

"Those kinds of players are probably few and far between, it's because managers aren't looking for those type of players in terms of how they're looking for their teams to play," he added, noting the ability to be comfortable on the ball and versatility are being favoured.

The former Irish international said that he'd be, "Struggling to name half a dozen" players in the league who he would class as traditional world class defenders and that this shift has filtered down to academy coaching which means the trend is likely to continue.

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