Now and Then: When the Goals Dry Up for the Men at the Front

Goals is the name of the game this week - or should I say, lack of goals. As the hunt for silverware and battle to avoid silverware hots up, every strike matters! In her latest instalment of Now and Then, Rebecca Coles looks at strikers over the years who have lost their scoring boots when their side has really needed them..

It isn’t hard to spot a player suffering from severe goal drought. They’re normally found sulking round the pitch, cursing the six-yard box, blaming a dodgy surface or looking at their boots.

Even some of the world’s best strikers endure barren spells when they cannot score for love nor money. Ask Fernando Torres.

In March 2012, Torres finally ended a 24-match goal drought which spanned back to October of the previous year

In March 2012, Torres finally ended a 24-match goal drought which spanned back to October of the previous year

The latest outbreak of goal drought couldn’t even be brushed aside by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who once said of his strikers: “I do not expect them to score prolifically.” No way Jose; that’s not good enough.

Good things do come to those who wait, and this term we’ve already seen the likes of Roberto Soldado and Christian Benteke end torturous empty spells.

Unfortunately, Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse is still waiting to end his, having struck just once in 18 league appearances. That solitary effort came from the penalty spot in the Magpies’ 5-1 home drubbing of nine-man Stoke on Boxing Day.

This lack of form is in total contrast to the Senegal star’s debut campaign in England, when he bagged 13 in 14 matches – including those two wonder strikes in the 2-0 win at Chelsea.

The Senegalese striker has scored just one goal in the league all season

The Senegalese striker has scored just one goal in the league all season

Then there’s an unlucky Black Cat. Fourteen months ago, Sunderland splashed out £5million to buy local boy Danny Graham from Swansea, after the striker had netted 15 in 54.

Twelve games and no goals later, Graham was shipped out on loan to Hull. After only finding the net there once in 18, he’s now hoping to fare better as a loanee at Championship Middlesbrough.

The longest dry spells are the most memorable, especially if you’re Diego Forlan. Nicknamed “Forlorn” by the media, it sadly took the Uruguay striker 27 games to score his first at Manchester United in 2002.

Fifty-million-pound man Torres infamously went nine matches without making the net bulge after his move from Liverpool to Chelsea in January 2011.

And who could forget Emile Heskey? The former Liverpool, Leicester and Aston Villa man often seemed unconcerned about getting a shot on target. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the striker with a tally of one in every four-and-a-half is currently experiencing a 12-month drought at Australian side Newcastle Jets.

On Saturday evening, Heskey scored his first goal in 13 months for the Newcastle Jets

On Saturday evening, Heskey scored his first goal in 13 months for the Newcastle Jets

Football has always been a low-scoring sport. Yet this season, aside from the top four, the dearth of Premier League goals has concerned some fans – and who can blame them? The English top flight is often reported to be the best in the world, and paying supporters want goals galore every weekend.

Individual barren patches are understandable at the start of the season, as players attempt to regain form, new signings try to settle in, and promoted clubs come up from the Championship.

Yet as the campaign draws to a close and the battles are underway for the title, European places and avoiding relegation, now is the time when all front men have to turn dry spells into goal showers.

What is the real explanation behind dry spells? What is the best way to stop the rot? And can the likes of Lukaku, Soldado and Negredo rediscover their scoring boots before the end of the season? 

You can read the rest of our Now and Then features by Rebecca Coles here!

Follow @Rebecca_L_Coles

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