Three teams with “holes in their goals”

A staggering 1,052 goals were scored in the Premier League last season. Over 43% of these goals came from strikers. For some teams, such as Manchester United, there was a huge reliance on their strikers as their main source of goals (69% of all the Red Devils’ goals came from strikers), whereas for others like Chelsea, whose strikers Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho frequently criticised, the contribution from the frontmen was considerably lower (27%).

While these numbers – and, more importantly, their implications – are worthy of further examination, this article will instead focus on delving deeper into the performance of individual teams to determine which were most reliant on a single “goal machine” to grab vital points. Perhaps worryingly for some teams, there are particular star players that are no longer included in their ranks for the season ahead – these teams have ‘holes in their goals’ and desperately need to invest in players who can replace these if they are to sustain their performances next season:

  • Liverpool – the most obvious candidate. Replacing Luis Suarez’s 31-goal haul of last season will be important if Liverpool are going to challenge for the league next season. The Uruguayan forward scored a staggering 31% of Liverpool’s goals and this won’t be easy to replace. While investment in Ricky Lambert and Lazar Markovic may help to ease the burden on Daniel Sturridge (who incidentally was the only other forward to score for Liverpool in the Premier League last season), Liverpool must surely invest in other striking talent if they’re to offset the loss of their main goal-scoring threat. Doing this will not be easy – only 35 players in Premier League history have managed to score 20 league goals in a single season. If Suarez can’t be replaced, Reds’ fans may need to reset their expectations and accept that last season represented an over-achievement relative to any reasonable benchmark and that they may not reach the same heady heights next season.
  • Everton – across Stanley Park, Liverpool’s city-rivals have even acuter problems to address. The barnstorming form of Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku was integral to the attractive playing style that won Roberto Martinez ever-more admirers. While replacing the Belgian will not be easy, it will be absolutely essential. Lukaku’s fifteen Premier League goals last season meant he was responsible for a quarter of all goals scored by Everton (the seventh highest percentage in the league). More worryingly, other than make-shift frontman Steven Naismith, no other striker scored for Everton last season. Naismith bagged a respectable five, but is surely not the man to replace Romelu.
  • Newcastle – squint and you might just detect a mood of optimism growing around St James’ Park. However, fans there are realistic about their side’s chances, particularly if they fail to add more firepower to their ranks than the recently acquired Emmanuel Riviere. And they are right to be. Last season’s top scorer Loic Remy bagged 14 goals last season – or one-third of his side’s total (the largest concentration in the league). Add to this the fact that Yohan Cabaye scored a further seven and you can see why the Geordie’s still have reason to be nervous. While Papiss Cisse will be expected to dramatically improve on his two goals last season, the erratic striker is unlikely to give Toon fans too much confidence.

Undoubtedly strikers will be on the shopping lists of each of those clubs – and a failure to bring in a top calibre player to fill the holes in the goals from last season is likely to mean they may struggle to repeat the achievements of last season.

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