Kit stats - The story of every teams season told in shirts
You’ve seen plenty of end of season reviews but the only summary that matters is one which talks about shirts.
The dust has settled on an amazing year in the Premier League.
Almost everything that needs to be said about what we saw on the pitch has already been said. I say almost because we need to talk about kits.
It’s no secret that football shirts are big business, and every year fans of each team bemoan the fact that they’re encouraged to shell out £50, £60, £70 on a piece of kit which may only see the light of day on 1 or 2 occasions.
So do fans have every right to be angry? Which teams are the worst offenders when it comes to ‘pointless’ away or third kits?
Thanks to our friend Football Kit Geek, we were able to trawl through some data and pick out some tasty data nuggets for your enjoyment.
The best shirts of the season - kits with the highest win percentage (min. 5 appearances)
|1||Manchester City Home||28||24||86%|
|3||Leicester City Away||5||4||80%|
|4||Manchester City Away||8||6||75%|
|5||Manchester United Away||6||4||67%|
|T-7||Tottenham Hotspur Third||5||3||60%|
|9||Tottenham Hotspur Home||32||19||59%|
It’s no surprise to see that City and Liverpool hold positions 1 and 2 in the table for most successful shirt. Both teams played out historically good years in terms of cold hard points, and the shirts they wore whilst doing so will be long remembered as a result.
Moving further down the table however you’ll spot a few surprises. Leicester City enjoyed something of a resurgence late in the season with the appointment of Brendan Rodgers, and this in tandem with one of the most exciting young squads in the league produced a number of great results. 4 wins out of 5 whilst wearing their grey and orange away shirt represented a great return, the 3rd best in the league per shirt (minimum 5 games).
Another story is Manchester United. It was a league season to forget for the team with Ole at the wheel, but one spark of positivity was that their away shirt was worn during 4 wins out of 6 games. Considering the shirt’s usage in their famous win in Paris, you couldn’t really ask much more from the team when they played in pink.
Special mention to Tottenham’s third shirt, which is another kit that goes down in history thanks to its European exploits. Whether or not Spurs will finish the season as European Champions remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that their third shirt finished joint seventh for win percentage with a healthy 3 wins from 5.
The worst shirts of the season - kits with the lowest win percentage (min. 5 appearances)
|1||Huddersfield Town Third||7||0||0%|
|T-2||Huddersfield Town Away||5||0||0%|
|T-2||Newcastle United Third||5||0||0%|
|T-2||West Ham United Third||5||0||0%|
|6||Huddersfield Town Home||26||3||12%|
|7||Brighton & Hove Albion Away||11||2||18%|
|T-8||Cardiff City Away||5||1||20%|
|T-8||Wolverhampton Wanderers Away||5||1||20%|
Poor old Huddersfield.
No matter which way you draw it up The Terriers endured a torrid time in part 2 of their top-flight adventure. All three of their shirts finished inside the top 6 for least successful shirts, with both their away and third kits registering 0 wins across 12 games.
Joining them at the ‘top’ of this unfortunate table are West Ham. In terms of overall results The Hammers recovered from a bad start to finish in the top half of the table, a significant achievement given their early season troubles. However, they did so despite winning no games out of 5 wearing their third kit.
It’s a similar story over in Newcastle, where the team enjoyed a decent season despite playing badly in their third kit. The Magpies couldn’t manage a win whilst playing in light blue (though they did pick up 4 draws), and if you’re of a superstitious disposition you could argue that they’d be best to avoid the colour for future kits.
The best value shirts - away and third kits with the most appearances
|T-1||Brighton & Hove Albion Away||11|
|T-4||AFC Bournemouth Away||8|
|T-4||Crystal Palace Away||8|
|T-4||Manchester City Away||8|
Despite the negative narrative often surrounding away and third kits, there are many examples of teams who have played a significant number of games in one of their change shirts.
Leading the way are Brighton and Watford, who incidentally both have green away kits. 22 combined appearances proved that fans of each club got their money’s worth when purchasing their team’s away shirt, unlike Tottenham fans.
Another club who gave their away kit plenty of exposure was Southampton, who wore their yellow design a healthy 9 games, although their performances in the shirt (1 win and 2 draws out of 9) left a lot to be desired.
The most used third shirt was found over at Arsenal, who wore their mint green getup twice as much as their away kit (8 times compared to 4). They were one of 7 teams who wore their third kit more than their away kit, joining Everton, Huddersfield, Liverpool, Newcastle Tottenham and West Ham.
The most pointless shirts - kits with the least appearances
|T-1||Leicester City Third||1|
|T-1||Tottenham Hotspur Away||1|
|T-3||Manchester City Third||2|
|T-3||West Ham United Away||2|
|T-8||AFC Bournemouth Third||3|
|T-8||Cardiff City Third||3|
|T-8||Manchester United Away||3|
Every year fans understandably complain at the fact that almost every team will churn out 3 or even 4 kits, even having the audacity to make some shirts almost identical in colour . It’s hard to argue that away and third shirts no longer exist primarily to give team’s an option in case of a colour clash, and the two ‘best’ example are found at the top of our table for most ‘pointless’ shirts.
In joint first is the Leicester third shirt and Tottenham away shirt. Starting with The Foxes, the team came under a lot of stick for their third shirt which was not only the same colours as their home shirt (albeit reversed) but also the same base design as a much cheaper adidas teamwear shirt. It’s solitary appearance will have nothing to dampen frustrations.
Tottenham were just as guilty with their navy based away shirt. Given the use of navy in the design of the home shirt, and the growing popularity of the aforementioned third shirt, Spurs ended up wearing their away kit in just 1 league game all season. Any fans who bought the kit have every reason to be annoyed, and the question or why the shirt was made in the first place deserves to be asked.
A number of other teams only wore a particular shirt 2 or 3 games, adding fuel to the argument that 3 shirts is excessive for the majority of teams. Both Watford and Wolves managed to go a full league season with just a home and away shirt, proving that it is possible. The reality however is that we’re more likely to see 4th kits became a regular staple than we are for a universal return to just 2 shirts.
Club-by-club summary - Your team’s season in shirts
Arsenal are proof that third shirts are here to stay.
The Gunners led the way with the most appearances for a third shirt with 8, double the number of games they wore their away shirt. 7 teams wore their third shirt more than their away shirt, and it’s a trend we expect to continue given the typically more flamboyant designs seen on a third kit, and the broader appeal they often have with a fanbase over the typically more conversative away shirts.
|AFC Bournemouth Home||27||11||41%|
|AFC Bournemouth Away||8||2||25%|
|AFC Bournemouth Third||3||0||0%|
Bournemouth were one of the most unpredictable teams in the Premier League this season, and it shows in their kit stats here.
Their win percentage whilst wearing their home kit was a healthy 41%, but in their away and third kits combined they only managed 2 wins from 11 games. Their third shirt in particular (which funnily enough was quite a similar shade of green to Arsenal’s third kit) saw a grand total of 0 wins in 3 games.
Brighton & Hove Albion
|Brighton & Hove Albion Home||23||6||26%|
|Brighton & Hove Albion Away||11||2||18%|
|Brighton & Hove Albion Third||4||1||25%|
The story of Brighton this season was that they did everything they could not to wear their home kit.
With just 23 games in blue and white, The Seagulls hold the title of the fewest games played in their home kit across all teams (followed by Crystal Palace at 24 and Burnley and Southampton on 25). As a result they also tied Watford for the most games in an away kit with 11, though results in their green kit left a lot to be desired with 2 wins out of 11.
Alongside these table topping figures they managed to sneak in 4 games in their yellow third kit (a design carried over from the previous season), proving that Albion’s season in kits had something for everyone apart from traditionalists.
Burnley were one of the most consistent teams in terms of win percentage across all three of their kits. There was very little to choose between their home, away and third in terms of results, with their white third proving to be their most successful with 2 wins out of 6 games.
They were a little shy in the usage of their home shirt, but for fans who bought either their away or third 13 combined games represented good value.
|Cardiff City Home||30||8||27%|
|Cardiff City Away||5||1||20%|
|Cardiff City Third||3||1||33%|
Cardiff’s shirt distribution was arguably the most exemplary of any team, with a healthy 30 games in their home shirt and a reasonable 5 and 3 games for their away and third respectively.
It’s a credit to the The Bluebirds given their common home colour of blue, and proof that it’s possible to strike a balance that respects tradition whilst also avoiding the danger of fleecing fans with a shirt that’s only worn in a single game.
Of all the top 4 teams, Chelsea wore their home kit the least with 27 games. In its place their yellow away shirt took centre stage, with it’s 8 appearances representing one of the higher numbers across all teams.
They still had time for their third shirt too, winning 2 of the 3 games they played in it.
|Crystal Palace Home||24||8||33%|
|Crystal Palace Away||8||4||50%|
|Crystal Palace Third||6||2||33%|
Alongside Brighton, Crystal Palace led the way for away and third kits.
With just 24 games in the blue and red colours of their home kit, The Eagles spent over a third of their time opting instead for their white away shirt and yellow third shirt. The standout shirt across all 3 offerings was the away shirt, with a strong 4 wins out of 8.
In fairness to Palace it’ll always be tricky to avoid kit clashes given the colours of their home, but still, traditionalists will be hoping next season bucks the trend.
Like Arsenal, Everton wore their third shirt twice as much as their away shirt. It proved to be something of a lucky charm, with 3 wins out of 6 representing a better win percentage than either their home or away.
29 games in their home kit puts The Toffees in the top half of the table in terms of usage, so despite a dangerously low representation for the away shirt with just 3 games, there isn’t too much to complain about from fans in terms of shirts.
Fulham were the only team in the Premier League to wear 4 shirts throughout the season, and given how badly the season went it’s just another thing for fans to be frustrated about.
In the two games where Fulham wore their predominantly black fourth shirt there’s no obvious reason why their red third shirt couldn’t have been instead, but despite this strange occurrence it’s quite likely fourth shirts will become more of the norm in years to come. Brace yourselves...
|Huddersfield Town Home||26||3||12%|
|Huddersfield Town Away||5||0||0%|
|Huddersfield Town Third||7||0||0%|
Speaking of future trends, Huddersfield adopted the rather ‘modern’ approach of referring to both their away and third shirts as ‘alternate’ shirts. Regardless, fans saw a total of 0 wins in the 12 games The Terriers changed kits, and on the home side things weren’t much better.
It’s worth noting that the club gifted all travelling fans a free third shirt in their final game of the season against Southampton, a commendable initiative despite the obvious jokes that Town were looking to shift excess stock.
|Leicester City Home||32||11||34%|
|Leicester City Away||5||4||80%|
|Leicester City Third||1||0||0%|
We have to talk about the Leicester away shirt.
Whatever you think of the design, no can deny how good The Foxes were playing in grey with an unbeaten record of 4 wins and a draw in 5 games. That win percentage of 80% put them just behind City and Liverpool in terms of shirt success (minimum 5 games), which says a lot given how good a season the top 2 teams had.
An equally notable story however was the Leicester third shirt. With just 1 appearance (a defeat to Crystal Palace), it holds the unfortunate distinction of being the most ‘pointless’ shirt of the season. It’s the kind of shirt which arguably didn’t need to exist, and given the fact that a third kit is not a requirement (just ask Watford or Wolves) it’s not a good look for the club.
In a historically good year Liverpool stuck to tradition with 31 games in their classic red home shirt and just 2 in their outlandish purple away kit. Picking up some of the slack was the third shirt, which chipped in nicely with 3 wins out of 5 appearances.
You can’t help but feel that The Reds were keen to avoid the purple shirt as much as possible, as the two games it was worn in the league away to Arsenal and Southampton were very much ones where their hand was forced.
|Manchester City Home||28||24||86%|
|Manchester City Away||8||6||75%|
|Manchester City Third||2||2||100%|
Manchester City registered a win percentage of at least 75% for all three of their kits. It’s not a stat that’ll show on the table, but it’s another validation for just how dominant the team were in all areas of the game.
Like Liverpool, City were sparing in the use of their purple kit, though unlike their rivals they managed to pick up 2 wins in both games it was used. The Citizens also gave plenty of time for their pinstriped away shirt, wearing it for a relatively high number of games including the crucial final day victory over Brighton.
|Manchester United Home||29||15||52%|
|Manchester United Away||6||4||67%|
|Manchester United Third||3||0||0%|
There’s precious little to be positive about at the moment if you’re a Manchester United fan. Much of the mid-season optimism that was generated following Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s arrival has now disappeared, but fans can at least look back on the relative success they enjoyed in their pink away kit.
Alongside a famous European victory against PSG, the shirt also saw it’s fair share of success at home with 4 wins in 6 games. It’s a small thing for fans to hang their hat on, but it remains a light in a dark season.
|Newcastle United Home||29||10||34%|
|Newcastle United Away||4||2||50%|
|Newcastle United Third||5||0||0%|
For Newcastle their away and third shirts tell completely different stories.
The popular late 90s inspired away shirt saw a good return of 2 wins in the 4 appearances it made, a considerably better outcome than the light blue third shirt which couldn’t manage a win in 5 games.
For the more traditional of Toon fans, 29 games in the famous black and white is a fair effort which stacks up ok compared to multiple other teams in the league.
No one can accuse Southampton of not trying to give their away shirt some exposure. The yellow and blue number was the third most worn away or third shirt in the league, though the success of the team in the shirt left a lot to be desired.
The Saints third shirt, which featured a similar design to the home shirt, proved to be a strong choice with a 50% win rate.
|Tottenham Hotspur Home||32||19||59%|
|Tottenham Hotspur Away||1||1||100%|
|Tottenham Hotspur Third||5||3||60%|
It’s been a superb season for Spurs, but perhaps the worst thing about the club this year has been the almost entirely pointless creation that is their away shirt. Many fans pointed out that the colour of the away and third shirt was very similar, and it’s a frustration that bore itself out.
The 1 games where the away shirt was worn produced a win, but still it’s not a great look for Spurs. The success of their third shirt in Europe only added to the feeling that they could have quite easily gone into the season with just 2 shirts, and any fans who opted to purchase the away shirt will have every reason to feel hard done-by.
FA Cup finalists Watford deserve a tonne of credit for balancing a deep cup run with a decent season in the league, and on the kit front the team also led the way by wearing just 2 kits.
It’s a rare distinction shared with Wolves, and although there were only 3 wins out of 11 in the green away fans will no doubt be pleased that the club avoided the temptation to ‘do a Leicester’ and produce a third kit that wasn’t needed.
West Ham United
|West Ham United Home||31||14||45%|
|West Ham United Away||2||1||50%|
|West Ham United Third||5||0||0%|
If you ignore their third shirt, West Ham had a great year with above-average win percentages whilst playing in their home and away kit. The 5 games in their third kit produced 0 wins, suggesting they could have been given their away kit more of a go given how rare it ended up being in terms of appearances.
|Wolverhampton Wanderers Home||33||15||45%|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers Away||5||1||20%|
Welcome back to the big time Wolves.
Amongst all the justified praise the club have been receiving, we ought to celebrate the fact that the club led the league in terms of games in their kit with a huge 33 games played in their gold shirts.
Like Watford, Wolves didn’t produce a third shirt and the relatively sparse usage of their white away shirt (5 games) suggests the team would’ve been happy to play every single game in their home colours. Given how well the team played, I don’t think many fans would’ve argued at the prospect.
Thanks once again to Football Kit Geek for his superb research which made this piece possible.
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