To the naked eye it often looks like soccer players are just walking around the pitch without putting much of an effort into it. However, since the average size of an English Premier League playing field is 105 metres long and 68 metres wide there’s quite a bit of ground to cover. And let’s not forget, many of these players are going at it for 90 or more minutes per game. While fans may be more impressed by the scoring prowess of players such as Harry Kane and Diego Costs or the passing abilities of Juan Mata Fabregas and Angel Di Maria, they often appreciate the blue-collar efforts of those with fewer skills, but perhaps bigger hearts.
The top scorers typically cost Premier League clubs the most money when it comes to transfer fees and weekly wages, but are they really the hardest workers in the league? According to the EA Player Performance Index statistics they’re generally not. There are dozens of unsung heroes in England with these being the top 15 hardest working Premier League players based on the total distance covered per match during the current 2014/15 campaign. Each of these 15 players must have appeared in a minimum of 10 games for their club this season to qualify for the hardest working player crown.
English and Scottish players are well known for the amount of running they do during a game and this list is led by homegrown players as seven of the top 15 are British. Two of them hail from France and there’s also one player each coming from South Korea, Spain, Serbia, Iceland, Holland, and Denmark. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 14 of the of the league’s 15 hardest working players are midfielders as they help out in the attack as well as do their part in their own end.
15 Daley Blind - Manchester United
Daley Blind is a Dutch international midfielder who joined Manchester United last year following the World Cup in Brazil. Blind hasn’t taken the league by storm by any stretch of the imagination, but the 25-year-old can’t be faulted for his effort as he covers 10.952 kilometres of ground each and every 90 minutes played. Blind has chipped in with two goals and two assists in 24 games in all competitions with his new club.
14 Morgan Schneiderlin - Southampton
Schneiderlin is a 25-year-old French midfielder and one of the key players in a surprising Southampton squad this season. The workhorse covers an average of 10.967 kilometres per outing and several clubs were interested in acquiring his services during last summer’s transfer window. Although he’s a defensive midfielder, he’s still chipped in with three goals and an assist so far this campaign.
13 Wayne Rooney - Manchester United
Wayne Rooney is both Manchester United and England’s captain due to his goal scoring skills and his work effort. Rooney covers the entire pitch and the striker can often be seen helping out in his own end and isn’t averse to playing in the midfielder either. The Liverpool-born lad covers 11.018 kilometres of pitch per match and leads his club with 19 goals in all competitions this season. The 29-year-old has also chipped in with eight assists.
12 Gareth Barry - Everton
Gareth Barry is a veteran English midfielder who’s international career appears to be over, but is still excelling at club level with Everton. The 34-year-old racks defensive player up 11.032 kilometres of coverage on the pitch per 90 minutes and also helps out in the attacking zone when he can. However, he hasn’t hit the back of the net yet since signing permanently with the Merseyside club last summer on a free transfer from Manchester City. Barry did score three times for Everton last season though when he also played with the team for the season while on loan from City.
11 Ki Sung-Yueng - Swansea
Ki Sung-Yueng-Swansea is a 26-year-old international midfielder from South Korea who works his tail off every outing with Swansea City by covering an average of 11.142 kilometres per 90 minutes. He’s one of the league’s most underrated performers at both ends of the pitch. Sung-Yueng has also displayed a fine scoring touch and has racked up seven goals and a pair of assists so far in the 2014/15 season. This skilled player may attract some attention from the Premier League's biggest clubs if he can keep up the fine work.
10 Steven N’Zonzi - Stoke City
Midfielder Steven N’Zonzi of Stoke City leads off the list as he averages 11.171 kilometres of distance covered for each 90-minute contest. The 26-year-old Frenchman has chipped in with two goals and an assist for his club so far in the 2014/15 campaign, so obviously isn’t being counted on for his attacking ability. What he is being counted on for though is a tireless work rate and N’Zonzi delivers a good effort week in and week out.
9 Gylfi Sigurdsson - Swansea City
This 25-year-old Icelandic international midfielder is tied with Stoke’s Steven N’Zonzi as he also covers 11.171 kilometres per contest. Sigurdsson is a skilled player who isn’t generally known for his work ethic, but he certainly possesses a good one. The Swansea City player has seven goals and nine assists for the team in 2014/15 after joining the Welsh club from Tottenham Hotspur permanently last summer. The talented player knows where the net is and has 60 goals in 141 club games during his career.
8 Christian Eriksen - Tottenham Hotspur
Danish international midfielder Christian Eriksen covers 11.177 kilometres each 90 minutes players and he’s arguably been Spurs’ second-best player in 2014/15 behind 21-year-old English international striker Harry Kane. Eriksen, a 23-year-old attacking midfielder has shown he has quite a bit of skill when he has the ball, but he’s also pretty good when he doesn’t have it. Eriksen has 11 goals and five assists for the White Hart Lane outfit in all competitions so far this season.
7 David Jones - Burnley City
Burnley City’s David Jones ranks seventh on the list by covering a distance of 11.352 kilometres per fixture. The 30-year-old English midfielder signed on a free transfer from Blackburn in the summer of 2013 and has just two goals since joining the side. However, he can always be counted on to show up and put in an fine effort. He’s one of the squad’s most durable performers who doesn’t mind playing through a variety of aches and pains.
6 Scott Arfield - Burnley City
Many fans may not know who Scott Arfield is, but the 26-year-old Scottish midfielder is one of Burnley City’s harder working players. He joined Burnley on a free transfer from lower-league side Huddersfield n the summer of 2013 and now covers an average of 11.388 kilometres on the pitch per game. He’s not being paid for his offensive ability as he has just two goals this season, but he does have 36 to his name in his pro career.
5 Cesc Fabregas - Chelsea
Cesc Fabregas may be the most talented player on this list and many fans may be surprised to see how hard he works each game. The 27-year-old Spanish international midfielder covers 11.415 kilometres per match on average and he also does his fair share when it comes to the attack. Fabregas has five goals for Chelsea this season and has also set up 20 others. He’s about to set the Premier League record for assists in a season and doesn’t neglect his defensive duties while helping out on the scoreboard.
4 Jake Livermore - Hull City
Jake Livermore has impressed Hull City fans after joining the club from Tottenham. Livermore is a 25-year-old English midfielder who runs an average of 11.429 kilometres per contest. He’s regarded as one of Hull’s top players for a good reason even though he has just one goal and one assist in all competitions so far this season. Livermore’s still young enough to possibly revive his international career with England in the future.
3 Jack Colback - Newcastle United
Jack Colback of Newcastle United is another hard-working English midfielder as he covers 11.658 kilometres per 90 minutes. Colback joined Newcastle from arch rivals Sunderland during the last offseason and he’s made a name for himself at his new club by being the squad’s hardest worker. The 25-year-old moved on a free transfer and has chipped in with three league goals so far during the 2014/15 term. Sunderland fans may hate him for moving, but Newcastle supporters are glad he did.
2 Nemanja Matic - Chelsea
Nemanja Matic is a 26-year-old Serbian international midfielder who covers 11.671 kilometres per game. He may not be the best player when he has the ball, but his effort without it has to be lauded. Matic has some scoring skills though as he’s chipped in with three goals and three assists for the league leaders this year in all competitions. He’s also quite durable as he rarely misses a match and is possibly Chelsea’s most underrated player this year.
1 George Boyd - Burnley City
Twenty-nine-year-old midfielder George Boyd of Burnley City is regarded as the hardest-working Premier League player when it comes to average distance covered per outing. Boyd, a Scottish international who was born in England, covers 12.006 kilometres a game. He made a name for himself in the lower divisions before moving to Hull City of the Premier League and has six goals in all competitions this season. Burnley paid 3 million pounds for the former Peterborough United, Nottingham Forest and Stevenage player. Boyd has 112 goals under his belt so far in his pro career.