By Brian Sears
1 June 2010
If an African nation is to win the 2010 World Cup in the first edition of the tournament to be staged on African soil, then possibly the Ivory Coast will be the team to do it. The bookmakers make Sven Goran Eriksson’s ‘Les Elephants’ the favourites among the African nations to lift the pot: Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa are all much longer priced.
The Côte d’Ivoire – as we Francophone stattos prefer to call Eriksson’s team – are spearheaded, of course, by that bustling, muscular, free-scoring (and free-falling) marvel that is Didier Drogba. And he travels to South Africa as full of confidence as a striker is able to be.
Why? Because in a remarkable and almost record-breaking season for goal scoring in the Premier League, Drogba was instrumental in helping Chelsea smash the record the number of goals scored by a top division team in England in a 38-game season. Chelsea scored 103 Premier League goals, an absolutely whopping season-on-season surge of 51 per cent in scoring (up from Chelsea’s 68 goals the season before). And Drogba scored 29 of those goals himself to take the Golden Boot as the Premier League’s top scorer.
Only three teams have now scored more than 80 goals in single Premier League season: Manchester United, Arsenal and now Chelsea. Chelsea’s 103 goals smashed United’s previous seasonal division record of 97 set in the 1999-2000 season.
The 2009-10 campaign was the second most productive season for goal scoring that the 20-team Premier League has known. In the end, 1,053 goals were scored, just seven shy on the record total of 1,060 goals 10 seasons ago. Goals rattled in at 2.77 per game. You have to go back to the 1960’s to find top-flight goal scoring in England at above 2.8 goals per game.
Chelsea alone contributed very nearly 10 per cent of the 2009-10 total, and Drogba by himself scored 2.754 per cent of Premier League goals!
It is my sincerely held belief – and I’d swear to it on my favourite quilted waistcoat – that we statisticians haven’t given Chelsea’s scoring achievements of 2009-10 half the publicity they surely deserve.
Their ton-plus of success strikes was the first top-flight century in English football since Tottenham scored 111 goals in 1962-63 (and Spurs only managed to be runners-up). Perhaps that’s what did it for brighter football!
But it must be remembered too that Tottenham in those days were locked into a 42-game season. Using average goals per game, their 111 goals back then would become the equivalent of 100.428 goals in a 38-game season (or 100, let’s say). And yet Chelsea have just mustered 103.
Before Chelsea’s century, top-flight teams had only achieved the feat 14 times in post-war English football, and all 14 of those centuries arrived in the seven seasons between 1956-57 and 1962-63.
Only one side has ever scored more than the 111 goals by Spurs already mentioned and that was also a Tottenham team, when they became Champions in 1960-61 with 115 goals. That 115 would translate to 104 for a 38-game season.
The last point that puts the Chelsea achievement in perspective is that back in 1960-61, goals were scored in the top division at an average rate of 3.73 goals per game. In this most recent season the rate of 2.77 goals per game (by both teams together) is nearly a whole goal a game down on that. Chelsea’s 2.71 goals per game by themselves almost matched the average. Drogba is a scoring machine, and no doubt Africa would delight in seeing him continue as such.