In the era of the Premier League super-striker, it’s not just about how many goals you score, but who you score them against.
Ridiculous amounts of money have been splashed out on Romelu Lukaku, Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata this summer as all the top teams attempt to assemble a title-winning strike force, with the likes of Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero already finding the net with regularity for their clubs.
But are the star attackers’ goals coming against the rest of the big boys, or are they merely padding their stats against the rest?
Well, our research has found that despite Manchester United shelling out £75 million for Lukaku, the Belgian is the Premier League’s biggest flat-track bully.
The former Everton man has scored an impressive 92 goals in 195 games throughout his PL career, but just 15 of those have come against the ‘top six’ of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and current club United.
This goals/game ratio of 0.28 is 0.26 worse than his record against the 30 other clubs he’s faced, where he’s fired 77 goals in 142 matches.
That difference between his record against the elite and the other clubs is the worst of all of the Premier League’s hot-shots, which doesn’t make good reading ahead of United hosting Tottenham on Saturday.
He has only scored once in eight matches against Spurs, and has just five in his last 37 matches against the big boys – including an anonymous performance as he drew a blank at Liverpool two weeks ago.
Unsurprisingly, most players on the list fare better against teams at the lower reaches of the table – though that would be to be expected given the weaker defences players would be up against.
Kane features quite low down on the list, with a goals/game difference of -0.22 – though his record of 15 goals in 29 games (at a ratio of 0.51 per match) is far better than his opponent on Saturday.
While they may not be out-and-out strikers in the mould of Kane and Lukaku, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard see very little difference in their performances between the top six and the rest, with goals/game difference of just -0.05 and -0.08 respectively.
However, by far the best returns against the big clubs is Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.
The 2015/16 title winner has an incredible return of 18 goals in 35 games against the top six at a ratio of 0.51 – far better than his 29 in 79 against the rest at 0.37.
Vardy’s performance shows a player who raises his game for the big matches – something United fans will hope Lukaku can begin to do to start repaying that hefty transfer fee.
Plenty of attention will be on the Belgian and Kane at Old Trafford this weekend, as the Premier League’s top two scorers face off.
The pair have been two of the league’s biggest scorers over the past couple of seasons, but how have their goals impacted their team’s performances?
Again – our research shows the advantage is with Kane.
The Spurs man has scored five goals to equalise the scores since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, and 25 to put Tottenham ahead.
Assuming an equaliser is worth one point to a club, and going ahead is worth two more, Kane’s haul is worth a remarkable 55 points to his side.
Lukaku hasn’t had quite the same impact.
Perhaps hamstrung by playing in a weaker Everton side, the Belgian has netted more equalisers (11), but has only put his team ahead 15 times.
Those equate to 41 points – which while handy to his sides, lags behind the devastating impact of Kane.
It’s also interesting to note the goals both have scored when their teams were already ahead.
Kane has fired 32 goals when Tottenham were leading, giving him an overall total of 62 – 12 more than Lukaku over the same time period.
As the pair meet on Saturday, it will be interesting to see if Lukaku can claw back the deficit, or if Kane can continue his hot streak for Spurs.