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Which forwards score against the top sides? Which forwards bully lesser teams?


We have classified Premier League teams into four groups in terms of strength and compared how the top goal scorers since the beginning of 2014/15 have performed against each group of teams.

Grade 1 teams are title challengers and teams consistently in the top four. Grade 2 teams are consistently in the mix for the European places with aspirations to break into the top group. Grade 3 is made up of mid-table teams. Grade 4 teams have recently been promoted and/or have been in the relegation mix over the last few seasons.

Grade 1
Man City-1-11---2---
Man Utd--321-31--13
% of Total Goals5%22%16%14%10%7%24%18%15%018%22%
Grade 2
% of Total Goals23%7%22%9%25%21%29%18%8%18%18%17%
Grade 3
Crystal Palace-1--2-11121-
West Ham111-11-113-1
% of Total Goals41%33%9%32%30%14%12%24%46%47%24%6%
Grade 4
% of Total Goals32%37%53%46%35%57%35%41%31%35%41%56%
Total Goals/Starts22/3427/4032/3722/4520/2714/4417/3317/4011/2417/4417/3818/49


Sergio Aguero has a devastating record against Grade 4 sides. Aguero has scored a remarkable 17 goals in 11 starts against teams in grade 4, making up for 53% of his goals. However, Aguero is no flat track bully and similarly does the business against the best teams, with 38% of his goals coming against grade 1 and 2 sides, including 5 goals in just 7 starts against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Strangely, Aguero has just 3 goals in 11 starts against sides from mid-table.


Harry Kane has scored 22% of his goals against grade 1 sides, with 6 goals in 9 matches against the best sides in the Premier League. No other PL forward has scored against as many different teams since the start of 2014/15. with Kane scoring against 16 of the 20 teams he has faced since the start of 14/15.


Like Kane, Diego Costa scores against all types of teams but the former Atletico Madrid forward will be keen to improve his goal tally in the really big games for Chelsea. Costa has just 1 goal In 4 (a goal v Arsenal in October 2014) starts against the best teams in the league with just 5% of his goals coming in these matches.


Olivier Giroud has been criticised for not having the required qualities to fire Arsenal to the Premier league title but the Frenchman’s goal statistics are far from shabby. Interestingly, of all the forwards Giroud has the least starts against Grade 1 sides, suggesting Arsene Wenger may not really trust him in the really big games. Nevertheless, 2 goals in 3 starts is a good strike rate and Giroud’s record against the rest of the league also deserves plenty of respect.


Alexis Sanchez’s general goalscoring statistics are superb for a forward that is employed out wide but the Chilean attacker’s strike rate can improve against the best teams. Sanchez has 5 goals in 17 starts against grade 1 and 2 sides but 17 in 28 against mid-table and relegation threatened sides.


Wayne Rooney’s numbers do not make particularly good reading but these can be mitigated by the fact the England captain has played a decent proportion of Manchester United’s games in midfield.


Christian Benteke has very impressive numbers with the Liverpool forward having the highest proportion of his goals against grade 1 (24%) and grade 2 (29%) teams. Like Aguero, It’s perhaps interesting that Benteke’s strike rate against mid-table sides is not great scoring just twice in 13 starts against grade 3 sides.


Saido Berahino has a fairly even distribution of goals which is even more impressive when considering Berahino is just 22 and plays for arguably the weakest club of any of the forwards. Berahino is likely to have had fewer goalscoring opportunities than his counterparts and is sometimes employed in a wider position yet boasts a respectable 6 goals in 17 starts against grade 1 and 2 sides.


Man of the moment, Jamie Vardy has a better strike rate against the best teams than the lower half sides. Vardy has 6 goals in 12 starts against the top two graded sides but 11 in 26 against grade 3 and 4 sides.


Romelu Lukaku’s numbers suggest he is a flat track bully. The Belgian has scored a staggering 82% of his goals since the start of 2014/15 against grade 3 and 4 sides, failing to score in 12 starts against the top grade sides and scoring 3 in 9 starts against grade 2 teams. Lukaku has improved his link up play and has 4 assists already this season but the former Chelsea forward will need to step up his game against the better sides.


Graziano Pelle offers a lot more than goals for Southampton but the Italian international can be proud of his 4 goals in 9 starts against grade 1 teams. Pelle’s numbers are competent without being spectacular but it’s a mystery as to why the former Feyenoord attacker has just 1 goal in 15 starts against grade 3 sides.