Football

Premier League XI: Tall v short

Baines features in the short XI (©GettyImages)
Baines features in the short XI (©GettyImages).

With so many unique players in the Premier League, there is inevitably going to be some extreme contrasts in terms of physical characteristics.

Using the Premier League Players Index, we have put together two teams of the tallest and shortest players in the league.

With height differences reaching double digits in some positions, which side do you think would come out on top in this clash of giants and midgets?

Tallest Premier League XI | 5-2-1-2

Goalkeeper | Costel Pantilimon | Manchester City | 203cm

In goal for the Premier League Tallest XI is in fact the tallest player in the league, overtaking Peter Crouch since arriving at Manchester City last year.

Coupling his intimidating height and cat-like reflexes, the giant Romanian is a terrific all-around shot-stopper with the potential to fill the role between the sticks at the Etihad Stadium for years to come.

Right-back | Chris Smalling | Manchester United | 194cm

Although primarily a central defender, the speed and positioning of the 23-year-old has served him well when required to fill in at right-back for United.

Smalling towers above the out-and-out fullbacks in the Premier League, and he is capable enough in his secondary position to be selected ahead of his peers.

Centre-back | Per Mertesacker | Arsenal | 198cm

Standing as the third-tallest man in the league behind Peter Crouch and Costel Pantilimon, it is not difficult to pinpoint why the enormous defender among the slowest players in the Premier League.

Typically sluggish speed for a man of such height, the German is a liability to his side more often than not. But to be fair, the former Werder Breman star has displayed erratic flashes of defensive solidity so desperately needed in the Arsenal back-line.

Centre-back | Gareth McAuley | West Bromwich Albion | 195cm

At 195cm, it is outstanding that McAuley is the shortest centre-back in the Premier League Tallest XI. The towering Northern Irishman has been virtually ever-present for the Baggies this campaign, missing only a single Premier League fixture.

Centre-back | Sebastian Coates | Liverpool | 196cm

The gangly Uruguayan is still struggling to make an impression at Anfield, as underlined by his solitary Premier League appearance so far this season.

However, the future is bright for the 22-year-old. Physically intimidating and technically proficient, Coates likes to initiate attacks from the back and looks like growing into a solid defender.

Left-back | Sylvain Distin | Everton | 193cm

Similar to Smalling on the opposite flank, Distin is most comfortable in his favoured centre-back role. However, the gigantic Frenchman is more than accomplished in the left-fullback position.

At 35-years-old, the former Manchester City defender still has some of that searing pace that made him such a difficult opponent earlier on in his career.

Centre-midfield | Steven N’Zonzi | Stoke City | 190cm

With no goals and no assists to his name this season, the physical style of the lanky Frenchman is perfectly suited a rugged Stoke side.

A daunting opponent in 50/50 challenges, the ex-Blackburn Rovers midfielder loves to get stuck in, but is also prone to picking up unnecessary bookings through rash fouls.

Centre-midfield | Marouane Fellaini | Everton | 194cm

The star man for the Toffees this season, the giant Belgium international is widely expected to leave Goodison Park for greener pastures this summer.

The 25-year-old is an exceptionally versatile player, capable of anchoring the midfield or spearheading the attack up top of just behind the striker. Fellaini is the current leading goal-scorer at Everton this season, bagging 11 goals so far.

Centre-forward | Peter Crouch | Stoke City | 201cm

Virtually unbeatable in the air, Peter Crouch combines his enormous height and technical invention to feed teammates with a deft flick-on or cushioned lay-off.

Rather surprisingly, the 32-year-old is also capable of hitting the back of the net with supreme athleticism and flair. Who could forget his spectacular bicycle kick against Galatasaray during his Liverpool days?

Striker | Franco Di Santo | Wigan Athletic | 193cm

The Argentinian has blossomed at DW Stadium since departing Chelsea after two disappointing years. Di Santo struggling to make his mark the Stamford Bridge and his inevitable exit could be viewed as a blessing in disguise.

The Wigan striker is still only 24-years-old and could easily have a future at a top European club if he continues to develop his game and score goals.

Striker | Edin Dzeko | Manchester City | 193cm

The Bosnian striker has maintained an impressive strike-rate for the Sky Blues despite being rotated in and out of the starting eleven to accommodate City’s gang of top-class forwards.

A clinical finisher and reliable target man, Dzeko has scored 13 goals and in 18 appearances across all competitions this term and is a regular feature in City’s intricate passing moves.

Shortest Premier League XI | 4-5-1

Goalkeeper | Mark Bunn | Norwich City | 183cm (Equal height to Michel Vorm)

With only two players standing less than 6’1”, 183cm appears to be the bare minimum for Premier League goalkeepers in terms of height.

To emphasise the opposite physical contrasts in the Premier League, Norwich City custodian Mark Bunn starts ahead of Swansea’s Michel Vorm in the Shortest XI due to his much lighter frame of 76kg.

Right-back | Rafael da Silva | Manchester United | 173cm

A classic Brazilian winger-come-fullback, the small build of Rafael is a weapon in attack and a disadvantage in defence.

The 22-year-old is remarkably quick off the mark and is a real danger running at a backtracking defender. On the hand though, the young South American is relatively poor in his own marking ability, unable to rely on his strength to bully opposing wingers and often resorts to trusting his pace to win the win.

Centre-back | Adrian Mariappa | Reading | 178cm

Apart from the great Fabio Cannavaro and Franco Baresi, not too many top-quality centre-backs are less than 6’0” in the modern game.

Despite beginning his professional career as a right-back, the Jamaica international prefers playing in the centre of defence. The 26-year-old is one of the quickest among his peers in the Premier League and makes up for his lack of genuine height with remarkable speed.

Centre-back | Gary Caldwell | Wigan Athletic | 180cm

Although just under 6’0” tall, Caldwell is the tallest outfield player in the Premier League Shortest XI. The Scottish defender joined Wigan in 2010 and has made 24 appearances for the Latics this season.

The Scotland international has been issued eight yellow cards so far this season, more than any other Wigan player.

Left-back | Leighton Baines | Everton | 170cm

One of the brightest stars in David Moyes’ side this season, the England international has offered a reliable source of quality service from the left flank.

Ever-present for the Toffees this campaign, Baines has chipped in with five goals and five assists so far, including some truly spectacular dead-ball strikes. 

Centre-midfield | Vurnon Anita | Newcastle United | 165cm 

The Dutchman has endured a rather bleak start to his career at St. James’ Park. Although his positional flexibility is one of his main qualities, the 24-year-old has largely been used as back up to more regular starters in various roles, and he is yet to assert himself as a key first-team player.

Centre-midfield | Santi Cazorla | Arsenal | 165cm

The miniature Spaniard has relished his key role at the Emirates Stadium, staking his claim as the Gunners’ new star man in only his debut season.

The former Malaga midfielder has effortlessly transitioned into the Premier League, racking up 12 goals and seven assists in 33 appearances.

Right-midfield | Aaron Lennon | Tottenham Hotspur | 165cm

Despite currently experiencing one of his best seasons yet in Tottenham shirt, Aaron Lennon has unfortunately lived in the shadow of the Gareth Bale’s incredible form this campaign.

A genuine pocket rocket, the diminutive winger is one of the true speedsters in the Premier League. The England international has improved his overall game as a wide-man and is now recognised as a real threat by opposition managers and players.

Left-midfield | Nathan Dyer | Swansea City | 165cm

Another extraordinarily rapid player, Nathan Dyer’s lack of height is the basis of his greatest strength – his pace. Although undoubtedly a Premier League lightweight, the blistering acceleration of the Englishman is treated with caution by opponents.

Attacking-midfield | Stéphane Sessègnon | Sunderland | 168cm

The Benin star has not been at his brilliant best for the Black Cats this season and among other reasons, this is a telling factor in Sunderland’s poor campaign.

Paolo Di Canio’s side have looked nothing like relegation candidates since the arrival of their energetic manager, but they will feel much more at ease if Sessègnon can produce his best as the season winds down.

Striker | Carlos Tévez | Manchester City | 168cm

The once-exiled Manchester City striker has more or less won back the support of the Etihad Stadium with a series of convincing performances following his return.

An unquestionably talented player, the moody Argentinian has been brilliant in a lacklustre season for the Citizens. The 29-year-old looks like staying put in Manchester for now, and if he does, he will be a key contributor towards clawing back the Premier League crown next term.

 

Who would come out on top in a match between the Premier League’s Tallest XI and Shortest XI? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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