Whether it’s a 40-yard screamer into the roof of the net or an inch-worth of tap-in to ensure it trickles over the line, every goal has identical worth in the Premier League.
But whether every goal deserves the same level of merit is starting to become a running theme of debate, in no small part due to the fact penalties have become a lot more common since the introduction of VAR and the governing bodies began faffing around with the handball rule.
Back in October, The Athletic even questioned whether penalties should count in the Golden Boot race, while Jose Mourinho seems to be pretty upset about Bruno Fernandes knocking them in with routine regularity at Manchester United.
Which got us thinking, how would the Premier League’s much-fabled 100 club look if we were to chalk off all spot kicks and purely rank its 29 participants on non-penalty goals alone?
Detailing their new position (compared to what their official 100 club ranking actually is), how many non-penalties they’ve scored and how many 12-yarders they’ve netted, you can find out the answer to that exact question below.
All statistics courtesy of Transfermarkt, taken before January 3rd’s round of Premier League fixtures.
29th (from 29th). Matt Le Tissier – 78 goals, 24 penalties
The Southampton legend brings up the rear of the Premier League’s 100 club and with 24% of his 102 goals coming from the spot, removing them from the equation makes no change to his position.
=27th (from 26th). Darren Bent – 89 goals, 17 penalties
Bent is one of the 100 club’s most well-travelled front-men but didn’t always enjoy penalty privileges at his plethora of Premier League clubs, only netting 17 in 277 games. Chalking off spot kicks only takes him one place lower in the rankings.
=27th (from 18th). Steven Gerrard – 89 goals, 32 penalties
Liverpool’s Captain Fantastic was perhaps a little more penalty-dependent than you’d expect, with 26% of his Premier League goals being from the spot. In fact, he drops the furthest of any 100 club member when his 32 penalties are discounted, falling nine positions from his official standing.
26th (from 19th). Jamie Vardy – 90 goals, 24 penalties
Much like Gerrard, the Leicester star drops a whopping seven places without penalties, albeit still scoring an impressive 90 non-penalty goals in 226 Premier League appearances. He’s also this season’s top spot kick taker with six penalties already.
25th (from 20th). Ian Wright – 97 goals, 16 penalties
In fairness to Wrighty, he’d probably be a bit higher on this list and the official Premier League scoring charts had he got to the top flight a little earlier in his career. With just 213 outings, he’s made the fewest Premier League appearances throughout the 100 club.
24th (from 28th). Didier Drogba – 100 goals, 4 penalties
Drogba’s most famous moment may have been scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final but for the most part, Frank Lampard took precedence over 12-yarders at Chelsea. Accordingly, Drogba actually moves up four positions when spot kicks are discounted.
23rd (from 22nd). Dion Dublin – 101 goals, 10 penalties
The former Aston Villa and Manchester United centre-forward won’t be too disappointed to fall down just one position, with only ten of his Premier League goals being penalties. He was as much about making them as scoring them, anyway.
22nd (from 26th). Peter Crouch – 105 goals, 1 penalty
Our dubious stats committee have been forced to make a ruling here. According to Transfermarkt, Crouchy never netted a penalty in the Premier League – but we know he got at least one against Crystal Palace back in 2005. Nonetheless, they weren’t the towering striker’s forte, and thus he jumps up four positions in the non-penalty rankings.
21st (from 25th). Paul Scholes – 106 goals, 1 penalty
Another one-penalty wonder, the fact Scholes now finds himself well ahead of Gerrard in the 100 club rankings once penalties are excluded will no doubt reignite the never-ending debate amongst United and Liverpool fans over which club legend was the ultimate English midfield genius.
=19th (from 24th). Ryan Giggs – 107 goals, 2 penalties
From one Man United legend to another. Just like Scholes, penalties were never a big part of Giggs’ game. In fact the only two penalties he ever scored in the Premier League came in the same match, a 3-1 win over Spurs in 2010.
=19th (from 20th). Romelu Lukaku – 107 goals, 6 penalties
Despite scoring at a pretty ridiculous rate during his time in the Premier League, Lukaku wasn’t much of a penalty-taker, missing three of the nine he attempted. Nonetheless, when your average of non-penalty goals per game is an impressive 0.42, managers can’t have too many complaints.
18th (from 16th). Robbie Keane – 108 goals, 17 penalties
The former Spurs star was one of the best Premier League strikers around for much of his career, and didn’t need to rely on penalties to prove it. Just 14% of his top flight goals were from the spot.
17th (from 22nd). Emile Heskey – 111 goals, 0 penalties
Forgive us if we’re wrong Emile, but as far as we can tell you went your whole career without taking a penalty. That’s pretty incredible for a striker with 62 England caps, but then again Heskey was never one to hog the glory and that selflessness earns him a five-place rise from the usual Premier League goal rankings.
16th (from 14th). Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink – 115 goals, 14 penalties
Big Jimmy could score so many different types of goal but penalties weren’t a speciality, responsible for only 11% of his overall Premier League strikes. Accordingly, his non-penalty goals per game average was a very healthy 0.4.
15th (from 17th). Dwight Yorke – 116 goals, 6 penalties
An incredibly underrated forward who was just as good at creating goals as scoring them. Despite missing just one from seven attempts in the Premier League, only at Aston Villa was he really trusted with spot kick duties.
14th (from 15th). Nicolas Anelka – 119 goals, 7 penalties
The former Arsenal and Chelsea front-man was a lethal goalscorer, which is only further proved by the fact a mere 6% of his Premier League strikes came from 12 yards. A little surprising considering how composed he always was in front of goal.
13th (from 12th). Teddy Sheringham – 126 goals, 21 penalties
A decent enough chunk of Sheringham’s Premier League goals were penalties but having scored so many anyway, subtracting them from his total only sees the Spurs and United icon drop by one position throughout the 100 club.
12th (from 13th). Robin van Persie – 129 goals, 15 penalties
Another striker who surprisingly wasn’t as involved in penalties as you might expect considering his impeccable shooting technique. Just 10% of van Persie’s Premier League goals were penalties, a proportion that sees him swap places with the aforementioned Sheringham.
11th (from 9th). Harry Kane – 130 goals, 23 penalties
Don’t be too alarmed here, Kane fans. Despite only six members of the 100 club scoring more Premier League penalties than him so far, he still boasts the joint-second-best non-penalty strike-rate at 0.58 goals per game.
10th (from 5th). Frank Lampard – 134 goals, 43 penalties
One of the 100 club’s biggest sufferers when we take away penalty goals. Nonetheless, 134 in the Premier League is still pretty incredible for a midfielder, even if it sees the Chelsea manager drop down five places from the usual rankings.
9th (from 10th). Michael Owen – 137 goals, 13 penalties
The Boy Wonder was so unplayable for the first few years of his career that a lack of penalties didn’t even seem to matter. In fact, without them he moves up a place amongst the 100 club.
8th (from 8th). Robbie Fowler – 145 goals, 17 penalties
From one Liverpool legend to another, Fowler doesn’t move an inch when penalties are taken out of the equation, which if anything shows the balance between his spot kicks and regular goals was just like his finishing in general – absolutely perfect.
=6th (from 11th) Les Ferdinand – 149 goals, 0 penalties
One of the biggest benefactors of our non-penalty study. Sir Les famously never took penalties throughout his career, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the deadliest goalscorers during the Premier League’s early years. Imagine how many he would’ve got if he’d taken a few now and then.
=6th (from 7th) Jermain Defoe – 149 goals, 14 penalties
Just like Sir Les, discounting penalties actually benefits Defoe, who moves up one place from the regular rankings. Just 9% of his Premier League goals were from the spot, which shows how lethal a poacher the former Portsmouth, West Ham and Spurs assassin truly was.
5th (from 6th) Thierry Henry – 152 goals, 23 penalties
No member of the 100 club has produced more non-penalty goals per game than the Arsenal legend, whose rate in that respect comes in at an incredible 0.59. Regardless, Henry bagged plenty of 12-yarders as well and in fact never missed one throughout his Premier League career.
4th (from 4th) Sergio Aguero – 154 goals, 26 penalties
Level with Kane for non-penalty goals per game, Aguero is another striker who can simply do it all. However, he’s not quite as dependable as you might expect when it comes to penalties, missing five from 31 attempts in the top flight.
3rd (from 2nd) Wayne Rooney – 185 goals, 23 penalties
Despite it often being debated whether Wazza was a natural goalscorer, even without penalties included only two strikers have netted more Premier League goals than him. That puts the debate to bed then.
2nd (from 3rd). Andy Cole – 186 goals, 1 penalty
Cole has some very, very strong views on how he went his whole career only taking two penalties and accordingly why that makes him a much better striker than many people believe. He’s arguably got a point as the second-highest scoring player in Premier League history when all spot kicks are ignored, although it’s worth noting that this was another one for the dubious stats committee, with Transfermarkt claiming he didn’t take any in the top flight. We can only imagine what Cole would say about that.
1st (from 1st). Alan Shearer – 206 goals, 54 penalties
That’s right, it takes something far more than merely chalking off a massive 54 goals for Shearer to be ousted from top spot in the Premier League’s goal rankings, which makes us think he might well hold onto that position forever. So godly is his overall total, despite netting the most penalties of any 100 club member, that only equates to 21% of his overall goals.