The Premier League Top Four: What Would Their 5-a-side Teams Look Like?

As excitement for the 2022/2023 Premier League season continues to grow, we take a look at what the Top Four would look like if they played 5-a-side.

Since the 1992/1993 season, the Premier League has been English football’s top competition.

What happens to the top 4 of the Premier League?

For several years, the format of the Premier League has seen the top 4 teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League. All four teams qualify for the opening Group Stage of the Champions League, which is considered the biggest club competition in the world. Financially, it is one of the most lucrative competitions in football.

big four premier league
Despite ‘the big six’, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs are currently the top four clubs in the Premier League

Who are the big 4 in English football?

The term “the big 4” has been thrown about for the best part of 15 years. Throughout the 2000’s, the big 4′ were considered to be Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

However, during this time it hasn’t always been the same four clubs. In recent years, the term has been expanded to the ‘big six’. This is mainly due to the rise of Manchester City’s dominance in the Premier League, and Tottenham Hotspur regularly finishing in the top 4.

At one point, it looked like Leicester City might break up the monopoly of the big six, after winning the 2015/2016 Premier League title. While in recent years, West Ham United have been pushing for a top 6 finish.

Looking ahead, Newcastle United will be looking to crack the top 6 in the coming years, thanks to their wealthy owners.

Nevertheless, the big 4 at the moment are Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur.

Pep Guardiola Top 4
Pep Guardiola led Manchester City to their fourth Premier League title in five years last season.

Who finished top 4 in the Premier League in the 2021/22 season?

The 2021/22 Premier League season did not lack excitement, but – let’s face facts – it was also predictable. Before the start of the season, most people would have expected a two horse title race between Manchester City and Liverpool, and that is exactly what we got.

City were favourites to come out on top at every football betting site around and they did – although the Reds could hardly have pushed them any closer! A dramatic final day of the Premier League season saw Manchester City and Liverpool separated by just one point.

Although Liverpool did their part by defeating Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, it wouldn’t be enough. Despite going 2-0 down to Aston Villa at home, Pep Guardiola’s multi-million-pound team responded with 3 goals in the space of 5 minutes to clinch their fourth Premier League title in five years, achieving the sort of title-winning consistency that their local rivals United used to enjoy.

Although Manchester City and Liverpool went toe-to-toe until the final day of the season, at one point earlier in the season, it looked like Chelsea could have challenged for the title as well. However, dropping points to their rivals along with Wolves, Everton, and Brighton & Hove Albion, meant Chelsea would have to eventually settle for a third-place finish.

The final spot in the top 4 was a tight affair between Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United, West Ham United, and Wolves. Nevertheless, it was one of the two North London clubs, Spurs and Arsenal, who seemed the more likely to sneak into the top 4. Tottenham sealed their Champions League spot after defeating Arsenal 3-0 at home, a 1-0 win over Burnley, and a 5-0 thumping of relegated Norwich City on the final day of the season.

Would that still be the case if the competition was 5-a-side football though?

The smaller size of the pitch is just one of many differences between 5-a-side and 11-a-side football.
Due to the smaller size of the pitch, 5-a-side football can be quicker than regular 11-a-side football.

The Difference Between 5-a-side and Standard Football

The single biggest difference between 5-a-side and normal football is that the latter only involves 5 players for each team! Moving on from the blindingly obvious, there are certain other differences that might affect the result.

5-a-side football is a more fast and more furious form of the game than 11-a-side, with fewer players on the pitch leading to greater intensity. That could be pretty significant in terms of which side would dominate a league of that kind.

The Liverpool team put together by Jurgen Klopp plays with an aggressive, intense form of pressing that looks like it would be ideally suited to a 5-a-side league. Of course, this is all speculation, but no doubt Liverpool fans will feel that their side might switch league positions with Manchester City if there were only 5 players each on the pitch!

The other two sides to make the top four last year were Chelsea and Tottenham, but how would they fare in a 5-a-side top four contest?

Picking the Top Four 5-a-side Teams

Etihad Stadium Top 4
Since the Abu Dhabi United Group took over the club in 2008, Manchester City has finished in the top four 12 times.

Manchester City’s fantasy 5 a side team

Pep Guardiola’s side is filled with international stars, so it’s no surprise he’d be spoilt for choice when putting together a 5-a-side team.

In goal for the Manchester City, 5-a-side team would clearly be first-choice ‘keeper Ederson. He racked up the highest number of clean sheets of any goalkeeper (alongside Liverpool’s Alisson) in the league last season, and distributes the ball well, although we do have some reservations about his shot-stopping. Nevertheless, he’s consistently shown the ability to play as a “sweeper-keeper”,  being to play with his feet, allowing City to play from the back with confidence.

In defence, Aymeric Laporte was dominant again last season having won his place back. He has the imposing presence to control the smaller 5-a-side pitch and the ball skills to cope with the fast play. The Spanish international has superb vision and judgement when making short passes, and is confident in one on one situations.

The two-man midfield should be made up of Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. Both have become vital to Man City’s star-studded squad. The former brings the skill needed to maximise the ball in tight spaces, proving to be an all-round midfielder either supporting the forward line either in the centre or on the wing. While De Bruyne offers pace, goals and vision, often being implemented in the centre of midfield or in a false nine role.

Upfront for City, Raheem Sterling has the sort of deadly pace and finishing perfectly suited to the speed of the 5-a-side game. The England international is more than confident at running at defences with the ball, while he offers astute positional awareness when off the ball.

Although new arrival Erling Haaland is also worth considering due to his speed and athleticism. The Norweigan striker scored 86 goals in 89 appearances for Borussia Dortmund. His large frame, hold-up play, and pace make him an exciting addition to City’s already frightening front line. However, Sterling’s speed and tactical understanding means he makes our Manchester City 5-a-side team.

Manchester City 5-A-Side
Despite the arrival of Erling Haaland, we think Raheem Sterling would lead the line for Man City’s 5-a-side team.
Liverpool Anfield
Liverpool’s stadium, Anfield, has witnessed many classic Premier League moments as Liverpool routinely secure a top 4 finish.

Liverpool’s fantasy 5 a side team

Like his Manchester City counterpart, manager Jurgen Klopp has plenty of noteworthy players to select.

Nevertheless, there can be no question of who would be between the sticks for Liverpool. Is there a better shot-stopper in the league than Alisson Becker? If there is we must have missed him! With 64 clean sheets in his Premier League career so far, it’s no surprise the Brazilian is a two-times Golden Glove winner.

Star defender Virgil van Dijk has to be in defence. The man is a mountain and that combination of height and physicality would mean few, if any, players get past him on the tighter 5-a-side pitches. Since joining from Southampton, the Dutchman has played a significant part in Liverpool’s recent history becoming an assured member of their defensive line. His positional and interception play are some of can Dijk’s key attributes.

In midfield, Fabinho would provide valuable defensive support to Van Dijk and can also contribute goals where needed. The former Monaco man is agile and robust. He would be joined by Thiago Alcantara – if he is fit – who has the creative vision needed to supply the front man. Throughout his career, playing for clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Thiago has shown superb technical ability, looking to play forward at any opportunity.

Sadio Mane was a popular nomination before his planned exit, but the deadly Mo Salah will do just as well. The Egyptian star striker has been a revelation on the red side of Merseyside since arriving in 2017.  Salah’s frightening pace and positional awareness have seen him score 118 Premier League, winning three Golden Boots so far.

Liverpool 5-a-side team
We think Jurgen Klopp would look towards this reliable quintet in a 5-a-Side match.
Chelsea badge
With new owners in place, Chelsea will aiming to continue to be Top 4 contenders

Chelsea’s fantasy 5 a side team

While there have recently been changes off the pitch, on the pitch Chelsea continues to prosper with an impressive squad mixing experience and youthful promise.

Edouard Mendy is the main man between the sticks for Chelsea. The Senegalese keeper had 14 clean sheets in 34 appearances in the 2021/2022 season, this is due to his assertiveness in front of goal.

In defence, Thiago Silva covers a lot of ground with pass interceptions, which will be needed in the fast-moving 5-a-side games. The experienced Brazilian is a reliable centre-back with tactical intelligence.

England internationals Mason Mount and Reece James would make an excellent midfield duo. Both bring youth and pace. Mount has a tendency to make driving runs into space with great close ball control. While James is an excellent passer of the ball, and often finds space to make early crosses for Chelsea.

In attack, for the Chelsea team should be Kai Havertz, as Romelu Lukaku lacks the necessary close ball control. The German international is two-footed and has thrived playing in a false nine role at Chelsea. His name is already firmly written in the club’s history books thanks to winning goals in the 2021 Champions League and 2022 Club World Cup finals.

Chelsea 5-a-side
Thomas Tuchel’s 5-a-side team would be a mix of youth and experience.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
With their new stadium, Tottenham Hotspur have become regular top 4 Premier League finishers

Tottenham Hotspurs fantasy 5 a side team

In recent years, the North London rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur has swung in the Lilywhites’ favour. Now under the leadership of Antonio Conte, his intense and motivational style has made him of Europe’s top coaches.

Hugo Lloris has been a reliable goalkeeper for Spurs for a long time now and could comfortably fit into the 5-a-side environment. The versatility of Eric Dier would make him the best defensive pick. With his ability to defend and create, he would be a useful asset for Spurs’ 5-a-side team.

Danish international Pierre Emile Hojbjerg would assist Dier in a defensive midfield role; breaking up opposition attacks, physical positioning, and tactical awareness. While 2021/2022 Golden Boot winner Son Heung-Min would offer pace, assists and goals. His ability to play as a winger, second striker, and striker adds to Spurs’ versatility.

Tottenham’s attack must be led by the legendary Harry Kane. With another 17 goals last season, he is still a top striker and would give Spurs a fighting chance in this fantasy high-grade 5-a-side football contest. His partnership with Son Heung-Min is quickly becoming one of the Premier League’s all-time best.

Tottenham 5-A-Side
With Kane and Son leading the line, a revitalised Spurs could go far in our fantasy 5-a-side Premier League.

Who would win a Premier League 5-a-side?

All things considered, we think Liverpool would edge it in a Premier League 5 a side tournament. Their energetic press and pace is ideally suited to 5-a-side