How Many Substitutes Are Allowed in the Premier League?

Chelsea, Werner, Tuchel

Liam Bewsher

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How Many Substitutes Are Allowed in the Premier League?

Up until the Premier League returned with Project Restart on 19th June 2020 with Tottenham Hotspur versus Manchester United, the Premier League had only allowed three substitutes to be used from a seven-man bench, with this rule dating back to the start of the 1994/95 season with varying bench sizes.

Prior to the aforementioned season, you were allowed to name three substitutes on the bench and use all of them, but, one of the substitutes named had to be a goalkeeper, making the ruling rather stringent as managers had to rotate their squad pre-match rather than doing so via substitutions.

Project Restart effectively brought the latest and newest change to the rules and regulations regarding substitutions, as you are allowed to use five in three pauses of play, whilst naming nine on the bench. This is a ruling that was only used up until the end of the 2019/20 season, but, is going to make a return for the forthcoming campaign.

There have been no changes made to the concussion substitution ruling.

Which Player Has Made The Most PL Appearances as a Substitute?

James Milner

Liverpool midfielder James Milner holds the record for the most sub appearances made in the Premier League.

The 36-year-old made his first Premier League appearance all the way back in November 2002 for Leeds United against West Ham United, coming on as a sub for Jason Wilcox. This would be the first of his 176 sub appearances.

Milner has since gone on to make 588 Premier League appearances in a career that has seen him play for other clubs such as Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Manchester City. Milner himself has won the Premier League itself three times.

Peter Crouch

Prior to Milner, Peter Crouch had held the record for the most sub appearances in Premier League history, having come off the bench 158 times with the likes of Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City and Burnley.

Crouch had an accomplished career as a Premier League striker, managing to score 108 and create 58 assists in 468 appearances.

Shane Long

35-year-old Southampton striker Shane Long is also on this list, having played for the likes of Reading, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City and the Saints in the top flight.

The pacey Irishman is level with Crouch on sub appearances and actually holds the record for scoring the fastest goal in the division’s history, doing so in 7.69 seconds away at Watford for Southampton back in April 2019.

Despite never being a prolific striker, Long’s workman-like attitude and pace has often been useful down the years, helping him on his way to 56 goals and 23 assists in 344 Premier League matches

Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe also features here having played alongside Crouch at both Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur.

The 39-year-old who only retired from football last season made 149 sub appearances, having played for four different Premier League clubs since the year 2000 in West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur, Portsmouth and AFC Bournemouth, with two spells at White Hart Lane.

Defoe scored 162 goals in 496 Premier League appearances and sits ninth on the Premier League’s all-time top scorers list.

Shola Ameobi

Former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has made the fifth most appearances off the bench in Premier League history, doing so 142 times across his 14-year spell at St James' Park and short stay with Crystal Palace in 2015.

The 40-year-old Nigerian made a total of 298 top-flight appearances across a 15-year span, managing to score 53 goals in total. Ironically, Ameobi made his Premier League debut in a 0-0 draw with Chelsea back in September 2000, coming on as a 70th-minute substitute for Kevin Gallacher.

Carlton Cole

Ex-Chelsea, Charlton Athletic, Aston Villa and West Ham United forward Carlton Cole is second on the list, having been subbed on 129 times in the Premier League. The 38-year-old made a grand total of 289 appearances in the top flight, scoring 51 goals.

Cole’s debut for Chelsea came in April 2002 as he came on as a sub for Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink in a 3-0 victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott could be in line to beat Cole and move up the ladder closer to Milner’s record as he is three years younger, having been subbed on 128 times across his Premier League career with the likes of Arsenal, Everton and Southampton.

The 33-year-old has made 376 appearances in the top flight, scoring 78 goals, making his debut for the Gunners as a substitute in August 2006, as he set up Arsenal’s first goal at the Emirates Stadium scored by Gilberto Silva in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Who Has Scored the Most Goals as a Substitute?

Jermain Defoe

Defoe also features here as he holds the record for most goals scored as a substitute in Premier League history, with 24 to his name in 149 appearances off the bench - this equates to 14.81% of the striker’s overall goals in England’s top flight.

Olivier Giroud

Former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud makes the list having scored 21 goals off the bench in 103 sub appearances during his time in the Premier League.

The 35-year-old currently plies his trade at Serie A champions AC Milan having left Chelsea back in July 2021 and managed to score 90 league goals between 2012 and 2021, meaning that 23.3% of his goals came from off the bench during his stints at the Gunners and the Blues.

Javier Hernandez

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez managed 19 goals from off the bench in the Premier League, scoring 14 of his 37 goals as a sub for Manchester United, as well as five of 16 in the same manner when he returned to England with West Ham United back in 2017.

The 34-year-old currently plays for LA Galaxy in the MLS and notably won the Premier League twice with United in 2010/11 and 2012/13. The Mexican forward managed to score 35.85% of his goals off the bench in the Premier League whilst coming on as a sub 78 times.

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