How would the Premier League table look without the goals of each side’s top scorer?
To find out, Squawka looked back over the last 27 games of the season and subtracted every point secured through the goal tallies of the most prolific finishers of every top flight club, with Liverpool soaring forward to take the lead in the title race thanks to their lack of reliance on one, stand-out striker.
Sadio Mane has lead the way for the Reds this year with 12 goals from 24 league games – an impressive return for a winger – but due to the team focus of Jurgen Klopp’s attacking tactics, they also boast one of the most diversify list of goalscorers in Europe’s top five leagues, insulating their points return from the affects of taking the Senegalese wide-man away. In fact, Liverpool gain two points thanks to other sides missing the impact of their most reliable providers of goals.
Chelsea’s plummet from the top spot is rather dramatic. From holding a 10-point lead in the real Premier League, they fall two places in this table after losing 13 points won through the finishing of Diego Costa, who has made the difference to the Blues in so many games this season, most notably their tight and cagey 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at home in December and a run of four goals from four games in the opening weeks of August and September.
Without the Spain international’s ability to find a way through to score, regardless of his side’s overall form, Antonio Conte’s uncertain start to life in England could have ended in disaster. They certainly wouldn’t be leading the title race, as this table makes clear.
Manchester United also suffer without Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish target man has scored 15 of their 39 league goals this season, and after taking him out of the equation, Jose Mourinho’s side move even further away from the top four, slipping down to seventh from sixth.
Everton, on the other hand, somehow get away with losing Romelu Lukaku, and move up to fourth, suggesting that while the Belgian may well be capable of filling his boots when he is on form, his goals may not be as important as his imposing strike tally may suggest.
The other big casualties from the battle for Champions League places are Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur who have both placed a great deal on emphasis on the goals of Alexis Sanchez and Harry Kane this season. No surprises there. By contrast, Manchester City look to be in a good position without Sergio Aguero, level on points with Liverpool at the top and separated only by goal difference.
In the relegation scrap, it’s clear that Watford would be in serious trouble without Troy Deeney, while Hull City’s transfer business means that their current top scorer is no longer at the club anyway.
Since Middlesbrough don’t score many goals anyway – they have pocketed just 19 in 27 games so far in the Premier League proper – they actually gain an extra three points without Alvaro Negredo, due to the lack of leading scorers around to punish their stubborn defence and force them to concede costly goals.
West Brom, however, continue on happily in eighth, despite Salomon Rondon’s goals being written out of the picture. Leicester City too see no change in their position with or without Jamie Vardy.