Under Sam Allardyce, West Ham gained a reputation – perhaps unfairly – as long ball specialists. Those days are gone now as Slaven Bilic and his playmakers prefer the cheeky flick over the hefty hoof.
But that’s not to say the long ball isn’t effective. Leicester City have climbed to the top of the league playing long balls more often than any other side in the league.
Long balls make up a higher percentage of the Foxes’ total passes than they do at any other team in the division.
Just under 7% of passes made in league games by Claudio Ranieri’s side have been long balls according to research by the CIES Football Observatory.
That’s more than double the percentages of any of their fellow titles rivals.
Just 3.1% of Tottenham’s and Arsenal’s passes this season have been long balls, while for Manchester City the ratio is 2.4%, the lowest in the Premier League.
Leicester’s long ball record is much more similar to that of West Brom (6.5%) with West Ham mid-table at 5%.
In fact, Leicester have the third highest percentage of long balls of any team in Europe’s big-five leagues – the top flights of England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
German side Darmstadt, who are 11th in the Bundesliga, have the highest ratio of long balls at 10.7%.They’re followed by fellow German side Ingolstadt with 7.8%.
At the other end of the table are PSG and Bayern Munich.
Long balls have made up just 1.1% of both sides’ total passes in league games this season.
Barcelona have the next lowest percentage at 1.4% followed jointly by Juventus, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund at 1.6%.
And Sam Allardyce? Well, he's imported the idea to Sunderland and they now stand second in the long ball table.
Long ball percentages
Team: % long balls
West Brom: 6.5
Crystal Palace: 5.7
• West Ham : 5
Aston Villa: 4.6
Man United: 3.3
Man City: 2.4