Monday 24 March 2014
It was a weekend of high drama once more in the Barclays Premier League as Matchweek 31 offered goals not just in quantity but quality, too.
After 32 goals from the eight matches on Saturday, Sunday offered 10 more strikes in the two fixtures. In total, six matches had five or more goals. The 42 goals overall was the second-highest total in the Barclays Premier League since the division was reduced to 20 teams. Saturday's tally was only the fifth highest for a matchday featuring eight ties.
The second-highest total for a matchweek in a 20-team division
It was, however, the first time in the history of the Barclays Premier League that three of the top four sides scored five or more goals in a day, as Chelsea put six past Arsenal, Liverpool the same against Cardiff City and Manchester City struck five into Fulham's net.
Saturday alone featured three candidates for goal of the season, as Alexander Tettey smacked in a volley from more than 30 yards for Norwich City against Sunderland, Yaya Toure replicated his ability from free-kicks from a loose ball with a curling strike and Wayne Rooney sought to emulate the watching David Beckham with a goal from 55 yards, just inside the opposition's half, catching West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian off his line.
Liverpool's 6-3 win over Cardiff on Saturday was the first victory by an away side by this scoreline and it kept Brendan Rodgers' team on course to break goalscoring records in the Barclays Premier League.
The first such scoreline in Barclays Premier League history
Liverpool's 82 goals put them well above the rate set by Chelsea when they scored a record 103 goals in the 2009/10 title-winning season. The Reds have scored 12 more after 30 matches than Carlo Ancelotti's team did nine years ago, although Chelsea's record was aided by a 7-0 victory in Matchweek 36 over Stoke City.
To beat the record, in their remaining eight matches, Liverpool need to score 22 goals, an average of 2.75 goals a match. Their present average is 2.73 goals a match. With 38 goals conceded, Liverpool's 30 matches in the Barclays Premier League have had 120 goals in total, four a match on average, the highest total at this stage in 50 years.
Not to be outdone, Manchester City, who were the early pacesetters in terms of goals scored this season are also ahead of Chelsea's record rate, with 76 goals after 28 matches, 11 ahead of the Blues at the equivalent stage. City require another 28 goals to usurp Chelsea, an average of 2.8 goals a match.
The most goals scored, excluding penalties, in a season by a player
Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge also have in their sights a record for goals from a strike partnership in the Barclays Premier League. The pair have struck 47 goals between them, with Suarez getting 28 and Sturridge 19. The most by a striking partnership in the Barclays Premier League is 55 by Newcastle United's Andrew Cole (34) and Peter Beardsley (21) in 1993/94 when there were 42 matches in a season. The four goals that Suarez and Sturridge plundered against Cardiff City put Liverpool's pair third in the overall rankings, two goals behind Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton's 49 for Blackburn Rovers in 1994/95.
Suarez's hat-trick against Cardiff put him back ahead of the rate to beat the joint record of 34 goals in a season from Cole and Shearer (as well as the mark of 31 goals in a 38-match season by Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo).
The Uruguayan is also one away from scoring the most goals by a player, excluding penalties, in a campaign. In south Wales, Suarez became one of four players to score 28 goals outside of spot-kicks. The others are Robin van Persie (Arsenal 2011/12), Didier Drogba (Chelsea 2009/10) and Shearer (Blackburn Rovers, 1995/96).