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Duncan Alexander reveals the Premier League's most one footed goal scorers as Harry Kane joins a rare 3 man club


Duncan Alexander reveals the Premier League's most one footed goal scorers as Harry Kane joins a rare 3 man club

The latest from OptaJoe's Duncan Alexander looks at one-footed and two-footed goal scorers!

Best Foot Forwards

The post-game vibes after Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Fulham on Wednesday night were downbeat. Two more dropped points for a club who have title ambitions was a painful scenario but at least Harry Kane edged one closer to Alan Shearer’s 260-goal Premier League record. Kane’s exquisite diving effort past Alphonse Areola was his 25th headed goal, and one which took him into rare territory, joining only Robbie Fowler and Andy Cole as players with 25+ goals via their head and each of their feet. Such a revelation surprised many, especially those who figured that Shearer’s huge haul in the competition must surely have seen at least 25 come from his left foot. Not so: Shearer scored 20 with his left, but it does beg the question: which Premier League goalscorers have been most reliant on their favoured foot, and who are the shot egalitarians who have spread it around?

Right is Right

Around 80% of people are right footed, so naturally there are a lot of Premier League players who have scored a reasonable number of goals, all of which have come with that foot. Your Xabi Alonsos (14), your Dimitri Payets (11) and your Nigel Reo-Cokers (10). Leading the way, though, is Luka Milivojevic with 27 out of 27 via his right foot, 21 of them from the penalty spot of course.

But these are men who score goals, not goalscoring men. Let’s say that a 70 goal minimum is needed to earn the title of bona fide Premier League goalscorer. On that basis the three most right-footed goalscorers are Steven Gerrard (120 goals, 103 with his right), Dennis Bergkamp (87/73) and Theo Walcott (77/62). Gerrard makes complete sense, what with a) the number of penalties he took and b) the sheer narrative strength contained in his right leg (take a bow son, etc). Bergkamp is maybe a bit more surprising, given he hails from a footballing culture that extols the concept of total football but if you can do a pirouette like he did when scoring that goal at Newcastle then why not just use your left leg as a sort of magic pivot. Walcott, meanwhile, is less unexpected. If you express yourself, one on one, then you’ll invariably choose your strongest foot.

Finally we should also pay tribute to three players collectively responsible for 514 Premier League goals, in the form of Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry and Jermain Defoe. All of them scored 78% of their goals with their right foot. An industry standard any manager would be glad to get behind. If that player could score like one of them.

Left Is Best

Switching to the education system’s favourite foot, we can see former Premier League player, player-manager and manager Stuart Pearce with 20/20 goals in the competition via his genuinely era-defining left foot, while Leighton Baines may well be spending the early months of his retirement regretting that he scored one of his 32 goals with his frankly neglected right foot, and spoiling his perfect record.

But applying the 70+ rule as we did with right-footed goals, leaves a top three of Mohamed Salah (88 goals, 72 with his left), Ryan Giggs (109/83) and Robin van Persie (144/94). All well-known left-footed football icons so no huge surprises, but eagle-eyed readers will notice that van Persie’s 65% rate is fairly low when compared to the right-footed players. And that’s true, left-footed players generally have to use their right foot to score more often than the other way around. The numbers back this up. And van Persie, the man who introduced the concept of the “chocolate leg” as a term for the weaker foot into English football remains the top scorer with his weaker foot in Premier League history. He clearly meant chocolate as in: widely available and readily consumed.

Bringing Balance To The Force

It’s all very well favouring one leg like a reliable dog but there are also the players who see their feet as equally effective implements, like a knife and fork. Players like Bobby Zamora and Obafemi Martins, who have taken and scored penalties with both feet (not at the same time) in the Premier League era, and I say: let’s have much more of this. Would Manchester City’s current penalty conversion rate be weakened if Pep Guardiola started demanding his players use their weaker foot to take them? No, it would not.

Among current Premier League players, Ollie Watkins is showing great promise. Only six goals for Aston Villa so far but his split between head/right/left is a Noah’s Ark approved 2/2/2. If Watkins needs inspiration to continue on this path then he should look to ancients like Ian Marshall, a figure from the early 1990s who couldn’t ever really decide whether he was a defender or a striker and who ended his Premier League career with a goal split of 13H 10R 10R. And limb agnosticism does seem to be something that had greater prevalence in the 1990s because up there with Marshall are Uwe Rosler (10H 10R 9L), Nathan Blake (7H 8R 8L) and John Fashanu (7H 7R 6L). Lockdowns in the Covid-19 era have seen many people rediscovering old hobbies and forgotten skills so maybe modern footballers could do the same and start to spread their goals around a bit. If Mohamed Salah scored with his right foot against Manchester United on Sunday then we’ll know the message has got through.

 

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