How the Premier League would look if positions were based on Instagram followers

The Analyst crunches the numbers and again the Big Six dominate, while it wouldn’t be such good news for followers of Burnley and Norwich.

'They're a big club, they deserve to be in the Premier League'.

Heard in recent years when discussing Newcastle, Leeds, Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Brom, Nottingham Forest and even Sheffield Wednesday, this tedious argument falls down on one very specific point: elevation to the top flight (and indeed staying in it) depends on points and not fanbases.

Having a large away following may impress the rest of the EFL and look good on Twitter posts, but it's no guarantee of promotion - as Sunderland keep finding out.

Still, we couldn't resist seeing how the Premier League would line up if membership was based on Instagram followers rather than what happens on the pitch.

And, surprisingly, it would not look that different to the Premier League for 2022/23.

(Article first published on January 13, 2022, so don't moan at us if you are reading this five months later and all the numbers are different)

Sunderland fans Arsenal Dec21

20. Brighton (473k Instagram followers)

The south coast club just make the cut, which is more than we can say for fellow top-flight sides Burnley (448k), Norwich (433k) and Brentford (210k).

Still, if it's any consolation for Burnley fans, Alexis Mac Allister's happy place is Turf Moor.

Most popular player: Adam Lallana 1.8m

https://www.instagram.com/officialbhafc/

19. Sheffield United (537k)

It's an instant return to the top flight for the Blades who still harbour Championship play-off hopes. United still lag behind their most popular player, however.

Most popular player: Rhian Brewster 643k

https://www.instagram.com/sheffieldunited/

18. Bournemouth (612k)

Pressing for promotion to the Premier League, the Cherries would be there (but in a relegation spot) if membership was based on Instagram followers. The place to come if you want to see which fingers Emiliano Marcondes uses to celebrate a hat-trick (clue: not the ones you'd expect).

Most popular player: Gary Cahill 1.5m 

https://www.instagram.com/officialafcb/

17. Fulham (616k)

Another Championship team well placed for a return to the top flight, Fulham are just 4,000 followers clear of Bournemouth.

If you want more Fulham content, check out left-back Joe Bryan who is going for the intelligent soccer player look by not only wearing glasses but, shock, reading books.

Most popular player: Harry Wilson 413k

https://www.instagram.com/fulhamfc/

16. Leeds United (953k)

Something of a disappointing showing from the Mighty Whites but one that replicates their current league placing.

Most popular player: Daniel James 1.9m

https://www.instagram.com/leedsunited/

15. Newcastle United (1m)

Another 'big' club who are struggling down the lower reaches of the top flight when it comes to Instagram followers. Newcastle have actually seen an increase of 250,000 since their Saudi-backed takeover. And judging by their recent post, Chris Wood is a lot taller than you think he is.

Most popular player: Kieran Trippier 948k

https://www.instagram.com/nufc/

13= Southampton (1.1m)

A decent showing from the Saints. And you can't beat a Peep Show reference.

Most popular player: Theo Walcott 2.5m

https://www.instagram.com/southamptonfc/

13=. Watford (1.1m)

A following entirely made up of former managers.

Most popular player: Ozan Tufan 835k

https://www.instagram.com/watfordfcofficial/

12. Crystal Palace (1.3m)

Twelfth in the Premier League table, 12th in our standings, maybe there is something in an Instagram-based table after all.

Most popular player: Wilfried Zaha 1.1m

https://www.instagram.com/cpfc/

11. Aston Villa (1.6m)

Villa fans are still harking back to the glory days of 2003 when they had more Myspace followers than Manchester United. Probably. Nevertheless, they've enjoyed a significant upsurge this season, helped no doubt by the appointment of Steven Gerrard (9.6m followers) and signing of Philippe Coutinho (23.6m).

Most popular player: Philippe Coutinho 23.6m

https://www.instagram.com/avfcofficial/

10. West Ham (1.8m)

Everyone's second favourite club, they will be disappointed to see themselves below Wolves when it comes to Instagram popularity. Jarrod Bowen's romance with Dani Dyer might help their figures, however. The daughter of the EastEnders actor whose name escapes me, she boasts 3.4 million Instagram followers.

Most popular player: Kurt Zouma 2m

https://www.instagram.com/westham/

9. Wolves (1.9m)

The Wolves brand obviously helps when it comes to ease of location on Instagram. The club lag a little way behind winger Adama Traore, however, whose posts mostly consisting of him with a vest on have amassed 2 million followers. He's not their most followed player, though.

Most popular player: Raul Jiminez 2.5m

https://www.instagram.com/wolves/

8. Everton 2.5m

Even among the club's 2.5 million followers, it's impossible to find one who thinks Rafael Benitez should stay.

It's not all bad news for Rafa, though. He has his own fanpage on the platform. Boasting a grand total of 149 followers, even they've had the good sense not to post anything since he took over at Goodison.

Most popular player: Richarlison 4.4m

https://www.instagram.com/everton/

7. Leicester 6m

The acquisition of the club by Thai-based King Power and subsequent Premier League title in 2016 has seen the Foxes popularity soar in soccer-mad Thailand and that is reflected in their Instagram following.

Most popular player: Jamie Vardy 1.5m

https://www.instagram.com/lcfc/

6. Tottenham 11.8m

Despite Tottenham coming in sixth, they trail some way behind the other 'Big Six' clubs. Interestingly, while Tottenham have close to 12 million followers, former Spurs player Gareth Bale has 45.7 million. Presumably for his golf content.

Most popular player: Harry Kane 12m

https://www.instagram.com/spursofficial/

5. Arsenal 21m

There is some leap between Spurs in sixth and Arsenal in fifth, with the Gunners boasting nearly twice as many followers as their north London rivals.

Their most popular player on Instagram is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who isn't doing himself any favours when it comes to salvaging his reputation.

Most popular player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 10.2m

https://www.instagram.com/arsenal/

4. Manchester City 28.6m

A Champions League berth only for the current Premier League leaders who refreshingly give equal billing to their women's side.

Most popular player: Gabriel Jesus 16.1m

Most popular women's player: Lucy Bronze 277k

3. Chelsea 31.5m

Another team whose position mirrors their Premier League standing, Chelsea are clearly benefiting from Chelsea Clinton's lack of Instagram presence (she has 3 million Twitter followers).

Most popular player: Thiago Silva 18.5m

https://www.instagram.com/chelseafc/

2. Liverpool 34.8m

Just like their manager, Liverpool's Instagram is pretty in your face when they win and quiet when they don't. Thankfully, the fact that they win more often than not has helped them amass close to 35 million followers.

Most popular player: Mo Salah 47.1m

https://www.instagram.com/liverpoolfc/

1. Manchester United 53.9m

Top of the league. United's first accolade under Ralf Rangnick and one that will be celebrated long into the night (if United fans can remember how to celebrate that is).

Their followers pale into insignificance when they are compared to their star player, however. Cristiano Ronaldo has 389 million Instagram followers, second only to Instagram itself.

It's clear to everyone, however, that it is another Manchester United legend in Roy Keane who should be leading the way.

Most popular player: Cristiano Ronaldo 389m

https://www.instagram.com/manchesterunited/

READ MORE: The Analyst: Which teams do the Premier League referees support?

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