Sporting Intelligence
FootballNewsANALYSIS: Sunderland and Arsenal fly flag for youth; Fulham and Chelsea opt for oldies

ANALYSIS: Sunderland and Arsenal fly flag for youth; Fulham and Chelsea opt for oldies

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By Brian Sears

9 September 2010

After all the talk last season that Chelsea had an old team in need of freshening up, they won the title, scoring record numbers of goals in the process. So just as “you’ll win nothing with kids” turned out to be off the mark, a mature side shouldn’t be written off.

On that basis, Fulham and Chelsea, having fielded teams so far this season with the oldest average ages (29.3 years) should be respected for their maturity.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sunderland have started the 2010-11 season fielding the youngest starting line-ups in the whole of the Premier League. The side that kicked off the season against Birmingham at the Stadium of Light had an average age of under 25, although some of the players used since have boosted that to 25.2 years old on average, still more than four years younger than Chelsea’s average.

Arsene Wenger’s young Gunners, aged 25.8 years, are the next youngest team (so far), and sit second in the Premier League table at this early stage of the season, intent on showing the kids are alright.

Sportingintelligence’s age analysis shows the Manchester United side kicking off at Old Trafford against West Ham before the international break averaged 29.7 years; Giggs, Scholes and Van der Sar were all included.

Our analysis (table of detail below) calculates the average ages of the players used in the three starting line-ups that each club fielded in their three matches so far played.

Arsenal, Manchester City, West Brom, Wigan and Tottenham join Sunderland in backing youth, each with average ages below 27.

Chelsea, Fulham and Stoke go with Manchester United in backing experience and all have line-ups averaging beyond 29 years old.

United scoop the prize for employment opportunities for senior citizens of the game. In goal, Edwin Van der Sar (40 next month) is the oldest ‘keeper, while Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes (37 and 36 respectively in November) are the oldest outfield players so far to start a Premier League game this season.

Only five teenagers have been thrown into the start of games so far, and Phil Jones at Blackburn and Jack Wilshere at Arsenal, both 18, are the youngest. Arsenal have used as many as eight under-25s, while West Ham have played as many as seven “30-pluses”.

Of note is that Bolton and Newcastle are the only clubs to have fielded the same starting X1 in all three opening games.

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