Talking Tactics

Season trends: Headed goals back in fashion

By Adrian Clarke 3 Jun 2021
Benteke goal 2

Adrian Clarke explains the increase in aerial threat during the 2020/21 season

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Adrian Clarke identifies tactical trends from the 2020/21 Premier League season. 

Headed goals

After a sharp and unexpected drop in the total headed goals in 2019/20 to lower than 150, strong individual campaigns from three players helped to redress the balance this season.

Heading stats compared by season
Season Headed shots Headed goals Conversion %
2018/19 1,514 185 12.2
2019/20 1,391 138 9.9
2020/21 1,428 170 11.9

The total of 170 headed goals was almost 25 per cent up on the 2019/20 tally, but remained below that of 2018/19, as more teams attempted headed shots and players' conversion rates for headers returned to about 12 per cent. 

Top-scoring clubs by headers
Club Headed shots Headed goals
West Ham 97 14
Liverpool 89 14
Everton 82 14
Man Utd 77 13
Spurs 62 10
Man City 59 10
Calvert-Lewin on the rise 

No Premier League player had more headed shots than Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The Everton striker racked up a total of 32 headed shots during the season, scoring a league-high seven of his 16 goals with his head.

Calvert-Lewin's 2020/21 goals
Top-scoring players with headers
Player Headed shots Headed goals
Dominic Calvert-Lewin 32 7
Christian Benteke 31 6
Edinson Cavani 11 6
Harry Kane 26 4
Lewis Dunk 19 4
Kurt Zouma 15 4
Ruthless Cavani

Just behind Calvert-Lewin was Edinson Cavani, who netted six goals with his head in 2020/21. But the headed goals from Manchester United’s summer signing came at a phenomenal rate.

Cavani was ruthless with his chances in the air, converting an incredible 54 per cent.

Cavani's diving header v Spurs

Christian Benteke also enjoyed a resurgence of scoring form with his head.

Like Cavani, the Crystal Palace forward netted six headed goals, albeit from nearly three times as many attempts.

The Belgian was rewarded for his form this week with a two-year contract extension at Selhurst Park.

Benteke's 2020/21 goals

Overall there were fewer crosses and set-piece goals in 2020/21 compared with last season, but the finishing was better.

Hammers on a high

West Ham United showed the biggest improvement with their aerial threat during the campaign.

Their tally of headed goals jumped from six in 2019/20 to a league-high 14 in 2020/21.

This was thanks to their excellent set-piece skills and abundance of aerial threats under the management of David Moyes.

Also in this series

Part 1: Patient passing produces record figures
Part 3: Free-kicks fall and penalties rise
Part 4: Away success rises as top sides falter
Part 5: Busy schedule not reflected in rotation
Part 6: Season trends: Managers changing shape more often

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