Nine Out of Ten

On target: only few EPL snipers have been able to hit the yellow circle on a weekly basis.

 

Nine players. It’s 24 games in and only nine Premier League players have managed to cross the 10-goal mark. Those are exactly the same men, whose goalscoring boots are going to decide the final outcomes of this season. The title might be 99% decided; some mid-table positions might be already fixed – but it still should come down to who is going to outsmart, outclass, outscore their direct opponent. And this means that all those goal machines have to fire at least a couple more times.

Without further ado: let’s take a look at their accomplishments so far:

Romelu Lukaku’s most recent frenzy against Bournemouth has slightly messed up this, otherwise rather clean-cut chart. Unlike extremely consistent likes of Sánchez, Costa and Defoe, Everton’s main man had plenty of ups and downs through this campaign – but he’s now back with the roar. Same can be told about Zlatan Ibrahimović. With Toffees and Red Devils being on a roll recently, it’s not out of question that those two, towering forwards will decide the Golden Boot title between them.

Manchester United’s finishing is all about Zlatan and Paul Pogba (78 shots). So far, neither of them has been too prolific at actually putting the chances away – and MU have only managed to bag 36 goals – four less than Everton, ten less than Spurs and sixteen (!) less than Arsenal and Liverpool. On the other hand: Kane and Alli would’ve been far higher on this chart if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re sharing shooting privileges with Christian Eriksen. Perhaps… they shouldn’t? After all, the Dane tried 88 shots and scored only 5 times!

The most frequent triers are also the most frequent hitters: though the differences here are nowhere near as big as in the previous chart. What’s particularly bizarre is the poor performance by Jermain Defoe. It’s safe to assume that the veteran forward has been taking a lot of risky shots from sub-par positions in the situations when his team had to chase the  result and thus the priority was to at least get some shots, hoping for a lucky break. Or, perhaps, it’s just his teammates, who cannot carve out more clean-cut opportunities for him…

Until recently, this competition was being utterly dominated by Diego Costa. However, with the gap in the lead widening, the Brazilian-Spanish forward has taken some liberties while shooting and other players have managed to catch up. Relatively low % pulled by Zlatan is a sign that perhaps his confidence exceeds his actual ability to hit the target. As of Alexis Sánchez: his ratio took an understandable, major hit once he’s been demoted from the striker post through the inclusion of Olivier Giroud (24 shots and 8 goals in 17 appearances).

Very, very tight race here. Lukaku’s goals in both games against Manchester City have proven how valuable his composure can be for Everton. Defoe might not be hitting the target too often – but when he does, he’s giving the goalkeepers very little chance to do anything. The same can be told about Harry Kane: but the Spurs’ forward, having the luxury of playing for a far stronger team, often looks for a pass instead of forcing a shot from a suspicious position. Agüero and Ibrahimović are dead last here… apparently, their selfishness does not completely pay off.

Sánchez’s outstanding show, played at the London Stadium against West Ham, has secured him the #1 spot on this list. Him, Costa and Lukaku are certainly benefiting from copious amounts of experience in managing their legs until the late stages of the game. Same cannot be told about young Dele Alli and, surprisingly, Agüero. With only 3 second-half goals this season, the Argentinian did not really help his team in the late stages of the matches – even though his teammates usually played better and better the longer the ball rolled on.

This chart lacks a standout. Alli and Defoe are topping it thanks to their games against Chelsea and Liverpool, in which Dele scored two headers and JD converted two penalties. Therefore, more significant accomplishment are Eden Hazard’s efforts against Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal – all cementing Chelsea’s advantages in those title-deciding 6-pointers. Kane, Sánchez and Agüero are confirming their ‘small-game’ reputation here – even though, until recently, Kun used to do well in the massive clashes!

Ruthless Costa is up there again, owing it largely to his September heroics against Swansea (2-2; who could imagine such result for Swans against Chelsea today?). Defoe’s six goals in the relegation scraps are pretty much the only difference between a glimmer of hope for Mackems and a sure relegation. Eden Hazard’s 1 goal can be explained by the persistent fouls he tends to suffer from low-profile defenders. As of Dele Alli: without him contributing goals in games like Leicester (1-1) and Sunderland (0-0) – Spurs could suffer another late-season disappointment.

Obviously, this chart favours well-performing teams that are not too keen on scoring many goals. Costa and Ibrahimović shine again: without Diego, Chelsea would’ve been only fourth and The Great Swede has single-handedly prevented Manchester United from being on level points with West Bromwich Albion. Each Agüero’s goal has been worth exactly 1 point – a testament to Man City’s struggles against mid- and low-table teams. In other news: Eden Hazard enjoys scoring goals which are nothing but the cherries on top of the title-winning cake.

This is the point, where Alexis Sánchez barely edges out all his colleagues. Considering that he’s been altering between the role of a winger and the duty of a centre-forward: his record seems slightly more impressive than Costa’s and Lukaku’s. The same cannot be told about Sergio Agüero: a pure, lone huntsman, who’s been getting more and more obsolete in Pep Guardiola’s new footballing style. Is this the definite dawn of the players playing off the last defender’s shoulder? Jamie Vardy’s story (28 shots and 5 goals this term) would strongly suggest so…


Final verdict: 1. Alexis Sánchez 2. Diego Costa 3. Romelu Lukaku 4. Harry Kane 5. Zlatan Ibrahimović 6. Jermain Defoe 7. Eden Hazard 8. Dele Alli 9. Sergio Agüero.

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