Goal scoring is a skill. Players who can create something from nothing, providing a timely tally for their side, are frequently the difference between one and three points. Players like Robin van Persie — 92 chances created in 2011-12 season — can provide a spark with the ball at their feet and a lethal final touch. However, there is another class of striker that always seem to appear at the right place, at the right time: poachers. We’ve gone back over the past two years and examined which players got their name in the papers while their teammates labored on the pitch to provide the clear-cut chances which resulted in a goal. Some of the names may surprise you, and likely will not. But each has contributed to his team’s success on the pitch in the most direct way possible, by sticking the ball in the net.
Know right at the top – there’s nothing keenly scientific done here. We’ve simply looked at goals scored on clear-cut chances against the total number of clear-cut chances the forward had and in relation to the total goals they scored each season. We’ve weighed that, wholly subjectively, against the chances they created for their teams and the volume of passes and crosses they both attempted and completed. The results make for very entertaining reading as we reminisce over some of the top poachers best returns during the last two years of Barclays Premier League action. Read on and enjoy.
Midfielders do not fit the criteria of poacher very well. While doing research, it quickly became evident that even the most proficient midfielders created too many chances, saw too many goals come from penalties, or failed to score enough total goals to make the final Top 5 list. However, we wanted to pay special note to one midfielder and we’ve included him as the honorary No. 6 on our list of five. Since we’ve already broken our own format, we’ve also added an Honorable Mention, possibly added additional players at will and raised the question of worst finisher of clear-cut chances. It is not scientific.
Honorable Mention – Diry Kuyt
Kuyt posted a remarkable 65% clear-cut chance conversion rate. The Dutch attacker scored 13 goals in the 2010-11 season with Liverpool and 11 of those game from clear-cut chances. The one-time Reds forward, winger and attacking midfielder finished 11 of 17 such chances. He took 50 total shots, with 31 finding the frame for 62% shooting accuracy. In 2010-11 the only player who took 50 or more shots and recorded a higher shooting accuracy than Dirk was Arsenal’s Samir Nasri (34-of-52 – 65% shooting accuracy). Between the two attacking midfielders they would have posted a remarkable single-season for a prolific striker, the duo recorded 103 shots with 63% shooting accuracy and 23 total goals. (Editor’s Note: Dirk Kuyt seems as though he was the total opposite for Liverpool in 2011/12!)
If this story were to be written at the end of the season it may be that a current Gunner makes the list, though he will need to step up production from this point forward. Olivier Giroud arrived at the Emirates with a reputation for making the most of a chance but has not found the net this season. Since the start of 2008-09 in Ligue 1 and 2 the French striker has been lethal, scoring 30 goals in 61 matches for Tours and 33 goals in 71 matches for Montpellier. In the 2012-13, his debut campaign in the Barclays Premier League, he has seen 3 clear-cut chances but scored on none. In fact, he has taken seven shots and recorded none on target. We expect he rights the ship shortly and
6. Kevin Nolan
Nolan spent last season in the Championship with West Ham, but his last Barclays Premier League season was one to remember. The Magpie’s skipper hit 12 goals and added one assist as helped the squad avoid relegation in their first season back in the Prem. Nolan was included here because he did not contribute much to the offense apart from his goals. He played 2658′ that term, in which he created 26 chances — all from open play. The midfielder’s chances turned into a single goal assist, with his own finishing far outstripping his contribution to teammates tallies.
The season had two highlights, a brace against Aston Villa in game week two and a magnificent hat-trick against Sunderland seven matches later. Against the Black Cats, Nolan scored with an overhead flick (26′) and had a simple finish from Andy Carroll (34′). Indeed, he could have had a hat-trick in the opening half but was denied the opportunity to take a 45′ penalty. The BBC described the situation of his third and final goal in their match report: Nolan, who looked a little bit peeved when Ameobi took the penalty, finally grabbed his hat-trick when a corner swung from the right was headed on by Ameobi and flicked in by the midfielder. The 75′ goal would close scoring for the Magpies and only a late Darren Bent strike (90′) would spoil an excellent victory for the home side.
One of the reasons that midfielders failed to make this list is the lack of total goals scored and Nolan’s 2010-11 season is proof positive. He hit 12 goals in this campaign with seven of those coming in the first nine game-weeks and with five over two matches. After his hat-trick, Nolan hit only one goal in his next eight EPL fixtures.
5. Peter Odemwingie
Odemwingie’s 2010-11 season was remarkable in several ways. First, the Baggie’s striker scored 15 goals on 83 shots for a side that scored 56 goals. His tally trailed on Tevez and Berbatov (20), van Persie (18) and Darren Bent (17). While his 51% shooting accuracy was in line with the other top scorers, his 18% was several points below the average among the those who finished Top 10 in the scoring table (22.6%). What allowed the Nigerian international to take his tally into double-digits was a phenomenal return from clear-cut chances. Odemwingie scored on 13 of 23 clear-cut chances while recording 15 total goals. Odemwingie took 83 shots — 42 on target — which leaves 60 shots coming from something other than a clear-cut chance. Of those 60 shots, he managed to score only two goals.
The following season proved Odemwingie more than a mere poacher, scoring 10 goals with five coming from clear-cut chances. Unfortunately for Peter and the Baggies, he missed an additional 10 clear-cut chances in 2011-12. Had his ’11-12 finishing matched the potency of the ’10-11 season, he would have scored between eight and nine goals on clear-cut chances. That would have raised his season’s haul to 14 and given his 29 over two years. Odemwinigie has struggled in the early days of the 2012-13 season as well. He has played the full 90′ only one time — scoring in the 3-0 victory over Liverpool — and is currently serving a three-match suspension for a red card he received 15 September at Craven Cottage.
4. Darren Bent
The only thing keeping Darren Bent from being higher up this list was his profligate finishing on gilt-edged opportunities. Bent is something of a cause de celebre in my posts, having been identified as having one sublime skill or simply one-trick depending on your point of view.
From 2010-12 Darren Bent took 115 shots finding the frame with 66 — recording 57.4% shooting accuracy. Bent scored 17 goals in the ’10-11 campaign and finished fourth in the scoring table. A season later, he scored nine goals on 39 shots with 26 on target for 67% shooting accuracy. Bent finished the season converting 23% of all chances and 43% on clear-cut chance. He scored all nine of his goals from such chances and finished the season scoring nine of 21 clear-cut chances. There isn’t much else to discuss. In that same time frame, the England forward played for two clubs (Aston Villa and Sunderland). For the Villans, he played 3262′ creating 31 chances, 2 clear-cut chances and 2 assists. He also made 20 starts for Sunderland and created 22 chances without a single clear-cut chance or a recorded assist. Seriously, Darren Bent Is Exceptional At One Thing. Read it and see if you disagree.
Next Page: The Top 3 – Which players make it? Take a look…
- Good Read
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