What’s best in the PL: one top scorer or several high scorers?

By Tony Attwood

Top scorers are widely and hugely celebrated in English football, and never more so than in the case of Erling Haaland who has scored 17 league goals – an astonishing total.  Behind him in the charts at the moment comes Harry Kane with ten, Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham with nine, and Ivan Toney of Brentford with eight.

So there are no Arsenal players in the top scorers’ list.  But is that a bad thing?

Arsenal’s top league scorer – or actually top scorers – come in at number 12 in the table of league goals with five each: Jesus and  Martinelli.  And it is interesting that only two clubs (Manchester City and Arsenal) have two goalscorers in the top 12.  Interesting because those two clubs are the top scorers in the league this season.

Of course, no club would turn down the chance of having Haaland in their team, but having one brilliant scorer can be a problem if he gets injured, taken ill, or loses his form.

Obviously, Manchester City with their almost unlimited resources have other players ready to jump in (although it is noticeable that across their last five games in the Premier and Champions Leagues they have only scored four goals – and two of those were from Haaland.

The alternative approach to goalscoring is to have lots of goalscorers and the benefit of this is twofold.  One is that the opposition loses the option of putting two players on the top man (although in the case of Haaland that doesn’t seem to work anyway) and for the attacking team, the loss of one man does not totally reduce the team’s goalscoring capacity.

In terms of goalscoring this season the top six scoring clubs are…


Lge Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2 Manchester City 12 9 2 1 37 11 26 29
1 Arsenal 12 10 1 1 30 11 19 31
3 Tottenham Hotspur 13 8 2 3 26 16 10 26
4 Newcastle United 13 6 6 1 24 10 14 24
9 Liverpool 12 4 4 4 23 15 8 16
7 Fulham 13 5 4 4 22 22 0 19


And quite clearly the top four in goalscoring are also the top four in the league at the moment.  Liverpool’s position in the table above is of course greatly enhanced by one atypical match – a 9-0 win over Bournemouth.  And it is amazing that with that single game included they are still only fifth in the league by goalscoring and ninth in the league on points.

Where the big difference between clubs comes is in league goals and the scorers.   Arsenal have four players with four or more goals this season in the Premier League – and that is with just on one-third of the season gone.

Manchester City have two such players, Tottenham have one, Newcastle have two, Manchester United have one, Chelsea have none.

And to be quite clear I’m only counting goals scored in league matches this season.

Now my argument would be that although having one player like Kane who has scored ten goals this season in the league, or indeed two such players like Haaland (17 goals) and Foden (six goals), is obviously good, the more players that can and do score goals the better.

Tottenham, for example, as we have noted, have scored 26 league goals, and ten of them have come from Kane.  Take him out of the team and a lot of pressure is put on Son and Hojbjerg.

Of course, it is not impossible for a player to step up and shine when needed, but overall it must be better to have multiple players scoring, and not just to cover for injuries but also for loss of form.  Obviously, it doesn’t look like Haaland or Kane are going to lose form any time soon, but even so, injuries can and do come along.

There is also the point about the decline in a player’s output and how the club can work around that.   Kane at Tottenham for example, scored 30+ goals in the league each season for four seasons from 2014/15 onward.   In the four subsequently completed seasons he has not managed it once.  Maybe this season, having scored 10 in the first third of the season he will manage it. but that is still putting all the pressure on one player.

And there is one other point.  As the defenders prepare to play Arsenal it cannot be clear to them which player is the main goalscoring threat.  Who is likely to score next in a Premier League match?  Do you mark Martinelli AND Jesus AND Saka (when he returns fit) and Odegaard? 

Jesus and Martinelli have each got five in the league this season, so they need to be watched.  But Odegaard and Saka have each got four.   Even Xhaka has got three.   And these goals have come, I would stress, just in league games.

Of course watching Henry, Wright, van Persie, Bergkamp etc was wonderful, but each eventually went and was hard to replace as a goalscorer (and of course in Bergkamp’s case a goal creator too).

So there is something to be said for sharing the goals around, and this season as the second highest-scoring team in the league even more so than normal.

6 Replies to “What’s best in the PL: one top scorer or several high scorers?”

  1. I think Arsenal fans should worry about Arsenal, worrying over what Man City have or don’t have is a delusional notion, City have won 4 out of the last 5 titles.

    Oh and that comment about unlimited resources don’t make me laugh, Arsenal have spent far more money than City in the last 5 years, like I said you are a delusional club fam, innit..


  2. Stephen, I do like getting comments such as yours from supporters of various clubs (it is by no means limited to Manchester City) in which the view seems to exist that one can simply make a statement without evidence, and thus seriously contradict an article. Those of a certain level of education and/or insight do realise that there is a profound difference between personal opinion and evidence. But then to go even further and suggest you know how much I am worried – well that goes beyond what even the most outspoken psychiatrist (who is trained in the subject) would say. And I rather doubt you were trained in psychiatry.
    So it is great to get an insight into a view from a supporter of Manchester City. Of course I don’t make the error in thinking that you are representational of all Manchester City supporters, but it is always reassuring to know that the old ways of thinking still exist.

  3. Liverpool are the only reason that the last 5 seasons haven’t been a one-club procession to the Premier League title for Man City, whilst making the claims of the EPL as the most exciting and competitive league in the world look as hollow as we all know they are.

    And so it falls to Arsenal this season, the job of making the EPL look competitive and not a one-club joke.

    It certainly isn’t what the media and those running the game expected or wanted and so we’ve had a few games this season when decisions have gone our way and it’s hard to get your head around because it’s not normal for us, also we’ve not been lucky, even if it feels that way, we’ve just got what we deserved, that is the correct and fair decisions.

    But it isn’t going to last is it, it’s just a charade to give the impression that the EPL is fair and competitive.

    Some of the tackles that have gone into Arsenal players during this run of games has been truly outrageous, at Leeds, Southampton and yesterday vs Forest, weak referees in games where the opposition are going to ‘put it about’…

    Arteta won’t be drawn, he knows we’re being ‘sorted out’ but nothing will be allowed to stop the Abu Dhabi rollercoaster of artificially financed dominance and certainly not Arsenal.

  4. The talk of City spending is really stale. You look at what Chelsea and Man-u spent in the last transfer window, it’s no longer relevant to point at City. City spent to catch up with the top teams, then to open a gap. They are now at a point that they only need to buy 2/3 top players to maintain standards, bonus being they are now in the previous position of Man-u where they attract top talents.

    It’s strategy. They were making capital investment and now reaping from it. The other teams will have to spend really big to just catch up, hence the massive recent expenditures of Chelsea, Man-U, Arsenal and Tottenham. Liverpool will have to spend too and if they fall into the trap of arrogance of thinking they are special, they will have a rough route back to the top.

  5. Wait till the owners at Newcastle open their purse strings , and really start throwing the money . It’ll be fun then ! FFF ‘s coffin will be nailed shut once and for all !

  6. It does amuse me the way the supporters of the Manchester Oilers come on here and bleat on about having not spent much money recently. What a weak argument.

    Firstly, they have previously spent billions establishing the squad they have which, low and behold is worth…..well, billions (despite having overpaid for the majority of their players).

    Secondly, they also overlook how much they have to pay those players on an ongoing basis to retain their services.

    Thirdly, having established said squad with the pocket money of an oil state, if one top player decides to leave (or doesn’t actually hack it, despite what he cost), they simply pop out and buy another world class star for a price only they can afford…..usually from a less well off club that undertook the hard work of turning said player into a star.

    So, the statement by City fans that supporters of other clubs are deluded, merely demonstrates that it is City supporters who, if not deluded, are desperately trying to find excuses to justify their own clubs trophy-buying activities.

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