The Premier League is renowned for its high-tempo, intense action thanks to having some of the fastest footballers in the world among the 20 clubs’ playing squads.
The bare minimum running speed set by the demands of the modern game has increased dramatically throughout the 21st century, especially in the English top-flight. Every position on the pitch, perhaps excluding the goalkeeper to some extent, requires having a decent turn of pace in order to keep up with the rapid, expansive style of the Premier League.
Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres excelled above their peers in the English game at one time or another during their careers, and despite being vastly different types of players, they all share a common trait: elite speed. Although these men have proven the ability to outrun opposition markers has become an increasingly crucial attribute of the best players in the business, raw pace alone is far from the be-all and end-all of succeeding as a top-level player.
However, it certainly helps one’s cause, and it’s no coincidence many of the inclusions in this list are also the among the key figures in their respective teams. These are the fastest players at each club in the Premier League.
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20 Arsenal | Hector Bellerin
Sorry Theo Walcott, Arsenal has a new king of speed. Hector Bellerin is officially faster than the England star after he shattered his 40 meter sprint record during the 2014-15 campaign and repeated the feat last August for good measure. An intelligent and defensively solid full-back, the 20-year-old has proven his enormous potential this season by demonstrating there’s more to his game than raw pace alone. Bellerin looks to have cemented his place in the Gunners’ back line, forming a terrifyingly quick right side with Walcott playing higher up the flank.
19 Aston Villa | Gabriel Agbonlahor
Ask any football fan to rattle off the five fastest strikers in the Premier League and most will mention the name Gabriel Agbonlahor. The Aston Villa speedster is far from the most technically gifted striker, but his electric pace has helped him bag a reasonable tally of 73 goals since scoring his first in 2006. The 29-year-old faces some competition in the speed ranks from new recruits Jordan Ayew and Adama Traore; however, most Villa supporters will argue Agbonlahor is still number one. From time to time, the Villa Park crowd even sings a rather unmannerly chant about his remarkable athleticism.
18 Bournemouth | Callum Wilson
Bournemouth certainly has a theme going in its front line, with Callum Wilson, Tokelo Rantie, and Joshua King comprising the three strikers in the Cherries squad. Blessed with tremendous pace over both short and long distances, all three men thrive on counter attacking opportunities, making it difficult to distinguish the quickest member of the trio. Although Rantie leads the pack in terms of acceleration and King triumphs over 50 yards, Wilson probably edges his colleagues for overall speed.
17 Chelsea | Willian
Willian’s speciality has been free kicks this season with six goals from 11 set piece attempts, so it's easy to forget he can be equally as menacing in open play. The 27-year-old is atypical of the Brazilian stereotype in terms of his relentless will to motor up and down the wings. However, he’s also blessed with the entrancing skill and searing pace commonly associated with attacking players hailing from his homeland. Felipe Luis — a man who’s faced Willian countless times while training for club and country — once claimed his former Chelsea teammate is the fastest player at Stamford Bridge ahead of Eden Hazard and ex-Blue Andre Schurrle.
16 Crystal Palace | Yannick Bolasie
Yannick Bolasie doesn’t receive enough credit for his electric pace, perhaps due to the captivating nature of his often outrageous skill moves. The elusive Crystal Palace winger has certainly mastered a myriad of tricks including some other players wouldn’t dare attempt outside the training ground, but he has more in his locker than just audacious flicks and spins. Bolasie has become one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League by using his lightning-quick speed to burn defenders down the left side, whether over ten yards or half the pitch.
15 Everton | Gerard Deulofeu
Gerard Deulofeu breaks the mould of the classic graduate from the Barcelona youth academy. The Spaniard has the trademark technique and vision one learns through the teachings of La Masia, but he also boasts the kind of physical gift that can’t be taught. Deulofeu is remarkably fast, even for a Premier League winger, and he needs to focus on sharpening the quality of his shooting and final delivery to ensure he reaches the heights many expect of him.
14 Leicester City | Jamie Vardy
There isn’t a Premier League footballer in better form this season than Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, now the only man to have scored in 11 consecutive Premier League matches. The 28-year-old possesses all the attributes of an extremely dangerous player, leaving many wondering why his goalscoring exploits hadn't come to the fore earlier in his career. While exceptional finishing, reactions, and positioning form three of Vardy’s greatest strengths, his frightening speed is what keeps markers attempting to close down exploitable space behind the defensive line.
13 Liverpool | Jordan Ibe
He might’ve taken longer to break into the Liverpool side than Raheem Sterling, but Jordan Ibe shares a host of qualities with the prodigiously talented Manchester City star. The Reds winger possesses many of the same key attributes of his former colleague, namely blistering speed either with or without the ball. He’s still developing, but Ibe is a fearless young man, and his direct approach scares the living daylights out of even the most experienced Premier League defenders.
12 Manchester City | Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling cast his name into the spotlight of world football during the 2012-13 season with a series of captivating performances based on mazing runs, deft trickery, and most of all, speed. With pace to burn and the smarts to use it anywhere on the pitch, the 21-year-old is one of the slipperiest forwards in the Premier League. Even during his formative years at Anfield, Sterling has always displayed a more polished all-around game, gradually disproving any qualms that he won’t amount to anything more than another nippy winger with no end product.
11 Manchester United | Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay hasn’t wasted any time showing off his freakish blend of skill, power and speed in the Premier League. Reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo, the man whose shirt he inherited at Manchester United, the 21-year-old Dutchman is a relatively inflexible player given he would struggle to influences games playing outside his best position. However, when offered a floating role on the left flank, Memphis is one of the best in the business at combining his pace and trickery to find pockets of space infield and unleash thunderous shots on goal.
10 Newcastle United | Rolando Aarons
Born in Jamaica, Rolando Aarons has drawn comparisons with Raheem Sterling in terms of his heritage and direct style of play. The Newcastle United winger is yet to earn a regular spot in the Magpies’ starting eleven, but is sure to be in with a shout during the coming months if he can enrich his game with other attacking qualities. Speed alone doesn't cut it in the Premier League, but at just 20-years-old, Aarons still has plenty of time up his sleeve to prove his worth to Steve McClaren.
9 Norwich City | Nathan Redmond
A side like Norwich City that often finds itself without possession for the majority of the 90 minutes needs a player like Nathan Redmond. The English speedster is capable of skinning just about any full-back in the Premier League with his blinding turn of pace, making him a potent threat on the counter attack. Redmond offers a valuable outlet to relieve pressure on the rest of the team by making darting runs into space to stretch the opposition defence.
8 Southampton | Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane has been turning heads in the Premier League for plenty of reasons this campaign, not least because of his thoroughly entertaining ability to go past a man with a swift change of pace. The Senegalese winger ranks among the quickest in his position and has demonstrated a mature perception of when to put the pedal to the metal or hold up the ball with his close control. Mane, 23, is by no means the end product and he’s already enticing the likes of Manchester United to keep tabs on him.
7 Stoke City | Xherdan Shaqiri
An ex-Bayern Munich winger, Xerdan Shaqiri exemplifies the type of player Stoke City is capable of signing following its recent change of philosophy. The Switzerland international failed to make the cut at Bayern Munich with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery for company, but that shouldn’t take anything away from his undeniable quality. As he’s already proven on numerous occasions with the Potters, Shaqiri can be the difference at the highest level, not least thanks to his rapid acceleration and tremendous speed over longer distances.
6 Sunderland | DeAndre Yedlin
DeAndre Yedlin has all the makings of the complete modern fullback. As many football fans have discovered by watching videos on the Internet, the American is undoubtedly one of the fastest players ever produced by the MLS. A competent defender to boot, Yedlin earned his big move to Tottenham Hotspur in August 2014 before he sent on-loan to Sunderland for the 2015-16 campaign to aid his development. The 22-year-old has already impressed for the Black Cats and no doubt boosted his chances of challenging Kyle Walker for the right-back slot at White Hart Lane next season.
5 Swansea City | Jefferson Montero
Most defenders insist players who’re super quick over 10 yards are harder to shackle than those who need eight or nine strides to hit top speed. With this in mind, Jefferson Montero is a fine example of a winger with the kind of deadly acceleration that gives even the finest one-on-one defender a constant headache. The Colombian loves to run at opposition full-backs and is particularly effective coming on as a second-half substitute, as Garry Monk has predominantly opted to deploy him this season.
4 Tottenham Hotspur | Kyle Walker
Choosing the fastest player at Tottenham Hotspur came down to a decision between Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon until the latter departed White Hart Lane for Everton in September 2015. With Lennon now out of the equation, few come close to matching the lightning-quick Englishman for speed. Walker has an instinctive ability to utilise his pace in attack and defence to equal effect, making him a daunting foe for opposition wingers and full-backs alike. He doesn’t top the class in terms of defensive quality, but the marauding 25-year-old is certainly an asset at the back for Spurs and England.
3 Watford | Victor Ibarbo
Victor Ibarbo and the physical demands of the Premier League are a match made in heaven. The Colombian striker is tall, powerful and, most notably of all, extremely rapid. His acceleration and top speed have terrorised defenders throughout his career, although an inconsistent goal return has divided football fans over the true extent of his potential ability. Some argue he’s one of the Colombian national teams sharpest attacking weapons, while others write him off as nothing more than a kick-and-run speedster. One thing’s for sure, though: Ibarbo is lightning-quick.
2 West Bromwich Albion | Saido Berahino
Speed kills in modern football, which is why the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are so keen on adding Saido Berahino to their respective starting elevens. The rapid West Brom star is the type of poacher-like striker who feeds off passes played behind the back line for him to sprint onto ahead of lagging defenders. Berahino tucks away his fair share of chances operating in this manner thanks to his devastating turn of pace and unwavering composure in front of goal, a rare combination for a young man of his age.
1 West Ham United | Michail Antonio
The West Ham United faithful are growing tired of watching summer capture Michail Antonio warm the bench amid the Hammers’ dire form of late. The English winger is capable of changing games in the attacking third with his astonishing speed, but he’s yet to be given the chances his qualities deserve at Upton Park. Antonio notched a respectable goal return during spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest before arriving in East London and many believe a player with his eye for goal and raw athleticism can be molded into an impactful player.
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