Football: And Statistics - United and Chelsea lead the goal rush

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The Independent Online
If it is goals you want to see, look no further than the Premiership. The last six weeks have produced a remarkable run of goalscoring: the 52 Premiership games played since the end of October have produced 160 goals, at an average of just over three per game.

Overall, Premiership goalscoring this season (average 1.39 goals per team per game) is up 10 per cent on last year (1.28). If the present pattern continues the season's rate will be one of the highest in the top division of English football in the last 30 years.

Behind the figures, however, are trends which might be considered less healthy. The Nationwide League is not enjoying any increase in goalscoring, while the Premiership figures appear to confirm the growing divide within the top flight.

Seven of the Premiership's 20 clubs - Manchester United, Chelsea, Derby, Arsenal, Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool - have scored half the goals. To narrow the scoring down even further, Manchester United (average 2.53 goals per game) and Chelsea (2.41) are streets ahead of the field; the Premiership average is 1.39 and all the other 18 clubs are averaging fewer than two goals per game.

In addition, a major factor in the increased overall rate is the number of one-sided matches. For example, a team has scored six goals or more on five occasions so far this season, which already equals the highest total figure for a whole Premiership campaign.

Historically, the improved scoring rates in the Premiership this season go only some way towards recovering lost ground: even at the current rate goals are in shorter supply than they were 40 years ago.

At the start of the 1960s teams in the old First Division averaged 1.86 goals per game. The more defensive strategies adopted after England's 1966 World Cup victory brought the figures steadily down and between 1968 and 1980 the figure never rose above 1.33. The 1980s brought about a small revival - perhaps fired by the incentive of three points for a win - but the figures have dropped slightly in recent years.

Goals per game 1997-98

Goals Games Average

Man United 43 18 2.53

Chelsea 41 17 2.41

Derby 30 16 1.88

Arsenal 31 17 1.82

Blackburn 30 17 1.76

Sheff Wed 30 17 1.76

Liverpool 27 16 1.69

Leeds 26 17 1.53

West Ham 24 17 1.41

Leicester 22 17 1.29

Newcastle 18 15 1.20

Southampton 20 17 1.18

Aston Villa 19 17 1.12

Wimbledon 19 17 1.12

Crystal Palace 17 17 1.00

Everton 16 17 0.94

Barnsley 15 17 0.88

Tottenham 14 17 0.82

Bolton 13 17 0.76

Coventry 13 17 0.76

Six or more goals in a game by one team (Premiership matches)

Goals

1992-93 4

1993-94 2

1994-95 5

1995-96 5

1996-97 5

1997-98 5*

*to date

Gianfranco Zola's goals have helped Chelsea into second position in the Premiership goalscoring chart

Goals per game: The Premiership's best records over a whole season

Season Goals Games Average

Man United 1996-97 76 38 2.00

Newcastle 1993-94 82 42 1.95

Man United 1995-96 73 38 1.92

Newcastle 1996-97 73 38 1.92

Blackburn 1994-95 80 42 1.90

Man United 1994-95 80 42 1.90

Season Goals Games Average

Leeds 1996-97 28 38 0.74

Crystal Palace 1994-95 34 42 0.81

Nottm Forest 1996-97 31 38 0.82

Ipswich 1993-94 35 42 0.83

Ipswich 1994-95 36 42 0.86

Man City 1995-96 33 38 0.87

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