09 May 2019
With just one week remaining of the Premier League season, we are nearly at the finishing line and on Sunday May 12th, we will finally find out just who won the battle to be crowned the kings of English football.
In the blue corner are defending champions Manchester City, while in the red corner are challengers Liverpool and although either outfit will be worthy winners of the title, only one will be fortunate enough to lift the trophy.
With all the other issues in the top flight all but played out, it means that the eyes of the footballing world will be on this titanic tussle and although the quest to be the best in the land is the star prize, it is not the only accolade up for grabs either.
That’s because the race to be the Premier League’s hottest finisher and in turn be presented with the Golden Boot award, is also one that has garnered a whole host of interest as of late and especially as anyone from a handful of candidates could go on to finish top of the scoring charts.
The likes of Mohamed Salah and Sergio Aguero have been doing their upmost to not only win the Premier League for their employers, but also win the individual prize which signifies red hot form in front of goal.
However, when it comes to the top marksman in Liverpool, its not just Mohamed Salah who has been terrorising opposition defenders this season and one cannot rule out his continental counterpart Sadio Mane either.
Of course, there is also another African forward who will be in the mix to win the award and that is Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, with the Gabonese forward aiming to soften the blow of what looks like missing out on a top four finish at the end of the season.
In addition, it’s not just foreign forwards who are in with a shout and although Harry Kane’s hopes of winning the award were seriously curtailed by numerous injuries throughout this campaign, there is still English representation in the shape of Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.
The race for goals is one that just like the quest to win the league, is going to go down to the wire and although we won’t know the winner or winners until the end of the week, we can certainly take a statistical look at the history of the award.
In this article we are going to look at all the recipients of the award from the 1995/96 season onwards – the reason being, is that this is when the division was cut to 20 teams and therefore gives us a fairer look at comparative data.
Therefore, what is the best place to start? Well, a good a place as any would be to list just who have been the hottest finishers in each season since the 1995/96 campaign and it is a list that looks as follows (parenthesis, indicates numerous award wins)
|1995–96||Alan Shearer (2)|
|1996–97||Alan Shearer (3)|
|1998–99||Michael Owen (2)|
|1998–99||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink|
|2000–01||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (2)|
|2002–03||Ruud van Nistelrooy|
|2003–04||Thierry Henry (2)|
|2004–05||Thierry Henry (3)|
|2005–06||Thierry Henry (4)|
|2009–10||Didier Drogba (2)|
|2011–12||Robin van Persie|
|2012–13||Robin van Persie (2)|
|2016–17||Harry Kane (2)|
As you can see, the hottest striker of them all in terms of Golden Boot wins is that of Thierry Henry. The former Arsenal forward was top of the scoring charts on no fewer than four separate occasions and he is only one of two players to have earned the honour at least three times.
The other of those marksmen to be in the top tier of Golden Boot hauls is none other than Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s record scorer can look back on a trio of season topping prizes and these were split between his time at Blackburn and Newcastle.
In terms of finishers that have been able to win the award more than once, this is a list that involves an additional quartet of forwards and the representatives are none other than Michael Owen, Didier Drogba, Robin Van Persie and Harry Kane.
Now that we know, just who has won the award in the past 23 completed seasons, it is time to take a deeper dive into just how many goals were scored and more importantly how many games were needed in which to do so.
However, instead of listing the players in chronological order once more, instead we are going to list them in terms of goals/games ratio. In doing this, it gives us a greater level of context to then analyse our findings.
While it is a list, that looks as such:
|2016–17||Harry Kane (2)||29||30||0.97|
|2009–10||Didier Drogba (2)||29||32||0.91|
|1995–96||Alan Shearer (2)||31||35||0.89|
|2005–06||Thierry Henry (4)||27||32||0.84|
|2003–04||Thierry Henry (2)||30||37||0.81|
|1996–97||Alan Shearer (3)||25||31||0.81|
|2011–12||Robin van Persie||30||38||0.79|
|2004–05||Thierry Henry (3)||25||32||0.78|
|2002–03||Ruud van Nistelrooy||25||34||0.74|
|2012–13||Robin van Persie (2)||26||38||0.68|
|2000–01||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (2)||23||35||0.66|
|1998–99||Michael Owen (2)||18||30||0.60|
|1998–99||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink||18||36||0.50|
At the top of the list is Harry Kane’s efforts from the 2016/17 campaign, one that saw him return a goals/games ratio of 0.97, which to simplify even further equates to nearly a goal every Premier League game that he played (29 goals from 30 games).
That is almost the gold standard and if you can score in every game that you play in, then the likelihood is that you are going to be at the much sharper end of the Premier League table come the end of the season.
In terms of last season, it saw Mohamed Salah truly arrive in English football and although he had an almost forgettable spell at Chelsea beforehand, it was his debut campaign with current employers Liverpool that showed just how efficient he was in front of goal.
The Egyptian forward’s 32 goal haul was a record amount in a 38 Premier League game season and that came in 36 matches, therefore providing a ratio 0.89 goals per game and the joint fifth most efficient Golden Boot winner of all time. (joint with Alan Shearer 1995/96, 31 goals/35 games)
In between Kane at the top of the ratio list and Salah in fifth, there are three players that have also recorded a 90% hit rate when it comes to goals in games and it is a trio that comprises of, Luis Suarez (2013/14), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007/08) and Dider Drogba (2009/10).
What is interesting here, is the fact that of the top five most efficient forwards in this list, three of them have been courtesy of performances in the past five Premier League seasons. Does this mean strikers are getting better, that depends how exactly you would measure that metric.
If you measure a striker being better, because he has a higher goal to game ratio then I guess you would have to say that they are, although if you were looking at pure goals scored then it is not necessarily the case.
Something else that needs to be considered is a striker’s worth to the club and just how important that their contribution has ended up being in that particular season, while this is a consideration that can be measured by a couple of factors.
First up, we can look at just where the club finished in the season that the player won the Premier League Golden Boot and whether or not, a Premier League winners medal was also collected alongside their own personal prize.
A list that looks as follows:
|1995–96||Alan Shearer (2)||Blackburn Rovers||7|
|1996–97||Alan Shearer (3)||Newcastle United||2|
|1997–98||Chris Sutton||Blackburn Rovers||6|
|1997–98||Dion Dublin||Coventry City||11|
|1998–99||Michael Owen (2)||Liverpool||7|
|1998–99||Dwight Yorke||Manchester United||1|
|1998–99||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink||Leeds United||4|
|2000–01||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (2)||Chelsea||6|
|2002–03||Ruud van Nistelrooy||Manchester United||1|
|2003–04||Thierry Henry (2)||Arsenal||1|
|2004–05||Thierry Henry (3)||Arsenal||2|
|2005–06||Thierry Henry (4)||Arsenal||4|
|2007–08||Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||1|
|2009–10||Didier Drogba (2)||Chelsea||1|
|2010–11||Carlos Tevez||Manchester City||3|
|2010–11||Dimitar Berbatov||Manchester United||1|
|2011–12||Robin van Persie||Arsenal||3|
|2012–13||Robin van Persie (2)||Manchester United||1|
|2014–15||Sergio Agüero||Manchester City||2|
|2015–16||Harry Kane||Tottenham Hotspur||3|
|2016–17||Harry Kane (2)||Tottenham Hotspur||2|
Of the 28 players that have won a Golden Boot award since the 1995/96 season (including shared awards for joint top scorers), there have been eight strikers who have also gone on to win the Premier League title that same season.
That equates to 28.57% of all the Golden Boot winners, although of course we must also consider that there have been 23 seasons in our sample and therefore this means that in 34.7% of the seasons, a forward has been both champion and top scorer in the same campaign.
Which when you consider that is just over one third, that’s arguably not as high a percentage figure as you would first expect and what is more interesting, is the fact that this double has not been won since Robin Van Persie in the 2012/13 season.
This then lends itself to another question, has the role of goalscoring been marginalised to a team effort rather than the job of one out and out marksman and on the evidence of recent seasons, you would have to suggest it has.
While even if that is up for debate, one thing that is for certain is the fact that being a Golden Boot winner does not necessarily guarantee you a Premier League trophy and this is evident when we look at the winners of the award in the past five seasons.
Of those five, 60% of them have only been the bridesmaid rather than the bride, while Harry Kane’s first personal success and Mohamed Salah’s goal tally last season only registered third and fourth place finishes respectively.
This signifies that although winning a Golden Boot is no longer a guarantee of winning the Premier League title, it will at least reward your employers with a ticket to the following edition of the Champions League.
While this is a trend that has certainly changed from nearly 20 years ago and especially in the three seasons between 2001/02 and 2003/04, as each of these saw the Golden Boot winner also win the Premier League title.
Back then, the pairing of Thierry Henry for Arsenal and Ruud Van Nistelrooy for Manchester United, were literally worth their weight in goals and with them earning the Golden Boot and the Premier League in the same season you can begin to understand why.
Although this is a perfect example of just how important goals can be, are they the most important of all? Take for example Dion Dublin in 1997/98, he was one of three Golden Boot winners that season and he did so for the highly unfancied Coventry.
The Midlands outfit had a habit of great escapes in the Premier League before the turn of the millennium and thanks to the goals of Dublin, the then Highfield Road outfit finished an impressive 11th in the table.
Therefore, you could argue that Dublin’s goals for Coventry, were worth more than that of Thierry Henry for Arsenal. Then again, that ultimately depends on what you consider the greater worth, winning the title or simply staying up.
Another perfect example of worth, is that of Kevin Phillips’ incredible 1999/00 season for Sunderland. A 30 goal haul meant that Peter Reid’s men finished seventh in the Premier League that season.
For a team that was only promoted the season before as Division One champions, this was an incredible effort and again, it was arguably these goals and these alone that kept the Black Cats’ heads well above the choppy waters of relegation.
While another way to measure the importance of each of these Golden Boot winners is to look at the percentage contribution towards their team’s total goals for that particular season, a list we will rank in order of highest to lowest.
|Season||Player||Club||Team Goals||Goal %||Position|
|1995–96||Alan Shearer (2)||Blackburn Rovers||61||50.82%||7|
|2003–04||Thierry Henry (2)||Arsenal||73||41.10%||1|
|2011–12||Robin van Persie||Arsenal||74||40.54%||3|
|2005–06||Thierry Henry (4)||Arsenal||68||39.71%||4|
|1997–98||Dion Dublin||Coventry City||46||39.13%||11|
|2007–08||Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||80||38.75%||1|
|2015–16||Harry Kane||Tottenham Hotspur||69||36.23%||3|
|1996–97||Alan Shearer (3)||Newcastle United||73||34.25%||2|
|2000–01||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (2)||Chelsea||68||33.82%||6|
|2002–03||Ruud van Nistelrooy||Manchester United||74||33.78%||1|
|2016–17||Harry Kane (2)||Tottenham Hotspur||86||33.72%||2|
|2010–11||Carlos Tevez||Manchester City||60||33.33%||3|
|1997–98||Chris Sutton||Blackburn Rovers||57||31.58%||6|
|2014–15||Sergio Agüero||Manchester City||83||31.33%||2|
|2012–13||Robin van Persie (2)||Manchester United||86||30.23%||1|
|1998–99||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink||Leeds United||62||29.03%||4|
|2004–05||Thierry Henry (3)||Arsenal||87||28.74%||2|
|2009–10||Didier Drogba (2)||Chelsea||103||28.16%||1|
|1998–99||Michael Owen (2)||Liverpool||68||26.47%||7|
|2010–11||Dimitar Berbatov||Manchester United||78||25.64%||1|
|1998–99||Dwight Yorke||Manchester United||80||22.50%||1|
As you can see Kevin Phillips contribution for Sunderland that season was absolutely huge in terms of goals vs total goals, with the former England forward being responsible for more than half of the goalscoring output for the Wearside outfit.
While the only other time that the Golden Boot winner has scored more than half of his club’s goals that season was Alan Shearer for Blackburn back in the 1995/96 campaign and what is interesting here, is that both sides finished seventh in their respective seasons.
Arguably the most vital contribution would have been Thierry Henry’s effort during the 2003/04 season. Not only did he provide over 40% of all of Arsenal’s goals (2 out of every 5), he also won the Premier League title.
Without question, this shows that the former French international was nothing less than Arsenal’s talisman and if anything, he is something of an anomaly when compared to other Golden Boot winners who also won the title.
That’s because when you look at the bottom of the list you will see a pair of Manchester United strikers who did the double as it were, but when you look at their overall percentage contributions in terms of goals, they seem to pale in comparison.
Dimitar Berbatov’s efforts in the 2010/11 campaign saw him provide just over a quarter of the goals that United scored in that season and when looking at the treble winning feat of 1998/99, Dwight Yorke served up just 22.5% of all of the Red Devils’ league goals.
This shows that Sir Alex Ferguson had many more forward options in these two seasons and therefore there was no huge reliance on any single player, something that more often than not will mean you are marching towards a Premier League title.
So to summarise, it is now clear to see that winning the Golden Boot is perhaps a bad omen if you are also looking to win the Premier League and if Sergio Aguero or Mohamed Salah are reading this, perhaps they might not want to find the net on the final day of the season after all.