Monday, 22 June 2015

The Top 50 Goal Scorers In Premier League History: Age Curves, Trends, & Goals per 90

The Top 50 Goal Scorers In Premier League History

- The Uncatchable One?

Welcome to The Top 50 Goal Scorers In Premier League History. In this article I am going to cover some ground in analyzing the Top 50 goal scorers in Premier League history. I will look at career totals, per90 totals, goals scored by age, goals per90 by age and career curves. Your item text ...

At certain points along the way I will also highlight the careers of individual players. there will be praise for some, and gentle mocking for others. 

It is worth noting that not a single player on this list is there by accident. The guys featured here had an elite skill of some kind. Maybe that skill was finishing (Shearer), or, maybe, that elite skill was durability (Kevin Davies), or a knack of staying in this league long enough to steadily climb into the Top 50 chart (Heskey). 

Whatever the skill or method, each name on this list is here for a pretty good reason. 

Career Totals

Table is sortable.


Alan Shearer is miles ahead of his peers in total goals scored, and he may never be caught. Yes, Shearer was the beneficiary of quite a few converted penalties during the course of his career, but his numbers, and the lead he enjoys at the top of the table, is worthy of quite some praise. Shearer was a consistent scorer, overcame two serious injuries, and still managed to produce at a high level into his mid-30's. 

I've said it before and I am sure I will say it again: Shearer was The Great One of Premier League strikers. He may well have been England's best ever striker. 

Injury may have robbed Shearer's of his top end speed and agility at a relatively early age, but he possessed more than enough skill in every other area of his game to continue to score goals at a mighty impressive rate. 

Is there any player out there that may be able to smash Shearer's record of 260 goals? I dunno. Wayne Rooney may look like the best bet. Rooney would need a further 76 goals to become the top goal scorer in Premier League history. 

And quite frankly that is unlikely to happen. 

Rooney is 30 this upcoming season and would need to score around 10 to 12 goals per season until the age of 37. Will Wayne Rooney still be playing football at 37 years of age? No. Wayne Rooney is unlikely to be able to fit through his front door at age 37 let alone score 12 goals at that ripe age.

Shearer may well be dead by the time his record is broken. I'm not kidding.

 Goals per 90

Sergio Aguero sits a top of this category and he has breathing room. I'd expect Aguero's per 90 rate to slide over the years as he starts to decline. 

Thiery Henry is in 2nd place and he played significantly more minutes than anyone else in the top 5 of goals per 90

Van Nistelrooy is in 3rd. Dimitar Berbatov is in 4th place. Dimi was quite the player if you were able to to overcome how your own eyes told you he was lazy and slow and didn't care very much. Berbatov was mighty effective.

Anyhow, play around, search through the various players.

Player Name Total PL Goals Goals per 90 PL Minutes Played 
Alan Shearer 260 0.61 38225
Andrew Cole 187 0.52 32315
Wayne Rooney 185 0.52 31804
Frank Lampard 177 0.33 48840
Thierry Henry 175 0.74 21312
Robbie Fowler 163 0.52 28023
Michael Owen 150 0.59 23027
Les Ferdinand 149 0.52 25994
Teddy Sheringham 145 0.41 31699
Robin Van Persie 144 0.64 20121
Jermain Defoe 128 0.45 25673
Jimmy F Hasselbaink 127 0.53 21564
Robbie Keane 126 0.46 24464
Nicolas Anelka 128 0.41 28091
Dwight Yorke 123 0.4 27353
Steven Gerrard 120 0.28 38900
Ian Wright 113 0.57 17839
Dion Dublin 111 0.47 21175
Emile Heskey 110 0.26 38129
Ryan Giggs 109 0.21 46427
Paul Scholes 107 0.27 36108
Darren Bent 106 0.48 20013
Didier Drogba 102 0.52 17541
Matthew Le Tissier 100 0.43 20737
Peter Crouch 96 0.35 24867
Emmanuel Adebayor 96 0.5 17308
Ruud van Nistelrooy 95 0.7 12163
Yakubu 95 0.45 18998
Dimitar Berbatov 94 0.65 13096
Mark Viduka 92 0.45 18233
Kevin Phillips 92 0.43 19414
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 91 0.59 13924
James Beattie 91 0.38 21840
Kevin Davies 88 0.23 34492
Dennis Bergkamp 87 0.35 22206
Fernando Torres 85 0.52 14691
Louis Saha 85 0.43 17991
Carlos Tevez 81 0.5 14558
Cristiano Ronaldo 84 0.52 14541
Chris Sutton 83 0.36 20879
Kevin Campbell 83 0.3 24700
Gary Speed 80 0.15 47498
Craig Bellamy 81 0.34 21728
Sergio Aguero 78 0.81 8616
Tony Cottee 78 0.41 16992
Gabriel Agbonlahor 73 0.26 24954
Chris Armstrong 71 0.37 17405
Eric Cantona 70 0.46 13765
Brian Deane 71 0.27 23595
Luis Suarez 69 0.65 9572

Career Curve

Now we get to some of the fun stuff!

This graphic below has a search bar in the top left corner. Use it.

This graphic shows the number of league goals scored by age and it throws up some pretty interesting stuff about certain players.

  • Shearer was a killer in his mid 20's. Boy, what a player.
  • Wayne Rooney has had 2 truly elite seasons and those seasons are in stark contrast to his usual consistent level of 12 or so goals a year.
  • Thiery Henry's peak years (age 23 to 28) were insane.
  • If Fowler was the first 'young gun' then Owen was the Premier League's first 'teen phenom'
  • There were clearly some era effects at play in the wild west early years of the Premier League: Ferdinand, Sheringham, Dublim, Deane, Wright were all able to score into their 30's in a way that may be impossible in the current era.
  • Yakubu was truly underrated. Van Nistelrooy was a freak.
  • Fernando Torres met an injury shaped wall and crashed head first into it. Ace at Liverpool, a bust at Chelsea.

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Goal Trends

In this graphic we see each players goal total but as a career trend. 

Henry, if he had stayed in the Premier League, could have had a chance to beat Shearer's record.

Wayne Rooney may well get into the 220 range by the time his career is done. 

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Per 90 Numbers

This chart breaks down each players goal total by age and converts it into a per90 number. Why do we do this? Because it factors in minutes played and by doing this we can see that some seasons that initially looked incredibly impressive (Chris Sutton, 25 goals at age 20) look a little more normal given the context of minutes played (Chris Sutton, the 25 goals were scored in 3681 minutes for a goals per90 of 0.61).

Some players look like true stars by the per 90 numbers, and some players' numbers fall away into a less impressive realm.

  • Shearer was great (yawn)
  • Henry was very very good
  • Fowler's number look a little impressive on a per90 basis.
  • Owen really had something until injury and an inability to adapt his game chipped away at his career.
  • Aguero has posted 3 amazing seasons.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo posted the best single season on record.
  • Suarez looked to be building toward supernova throughout his Liverpool career.

Play around with the table. The last column on the list is the age curve of the Top 50 Goal Scorers In Premier League history.

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