Robin van Persie’s on an English Premier League record-setting pace this season as his hat trick against a woeful Blackburn team on Feb. 4 upped his league total to 22 goals in 24 games. He’s already eclipsed last year’s Golden Boot scoring record of 20 which was shared by Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez and Dmitar Berbatov of Manchester United and his own mark of 18 EPL goals.
If the 28-year-old Van Persie can keep scoring at the same pace for the rest of the season he’ll finish with 34 or 35 goals since he’s scoring at a rate of .92 goals per game. Newcastle’s Demba Ba is next in league scoring with 15 in 23 games, but he hasn’t played in all of his club’s matches since he’s been involved in the African Cup of Nations.
Since its inception in 1992/93, the highest goal-scoring totals for a season in the English Premier League have been 34. Andy Cole set the standard in 93/94 when playing for Newcastle and Alan Shearer matched it the next season while playing for Blackburn. Shearer also scored 31 again the year after and the 30 goal mark has only been reached three times since when Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips did it in 99/2000, Arsenal’s Thierry Henry in 2003/04 and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo banged 31 in during the 07/08 season.
The lowest totals for Golden Boot winners were in the 1997/98 season and again in 1998/99 when the high mark in the league was just 18 goals. Michael Owen of Liverpool, Dion Dublin of Coventry and Chris Sutton of Blackburn shared the award in 97/98 while Owen shared it again the next season with Dwight Yorke of Manchester United and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink of Leeds.
Van Persie is also in the running for another record which could see him score the highest percentage of his team’s goals for a Premier League season. By scoring 22 of Arsenals’ 46 league goals so far this season he’s scored 47.8 per cent of his club’s total league goals. The EPL record his currently held by Kevin Phillips whose 30 goals in the 1999/2000 season with Sunderland represented 52.6 per cent of the team’s 57 total league goals.
Shearer is next in line when he scored 50.8 per cent of Blackburn’s goals in the 95/96 season. He managed to bang in 31 of the club’s 61 goals that year. If Van Persie keeps scoring at the same rate he has been he could become the league’s all-time top scorer for a single season as long as he hits 35 or more. If he finishes with 34 he’ll share the mark with Shearer and Cole. His scoring percentage of the team’s total would leave him third in the record books since the EPL began.
While leading the league in scoring is an achievement anybody would be proud of there are two trains of thought on the percentage issue. Some experts feel it’s not a good sign for the club if one player is scoring the majority of goals. It means there are too many others who aren’t pulling their weight and the team is depending too heavily on one player. They also question what would happen if the guy who’s scoring half of the goals suddenly got injured or went into a scoring slump.
In Arsenal’s case, this is definitely a legitimate question since Mikel Arteta and Gervinho are next on the scoring list with just four league and overall goals each. Abou Diaby, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Tomáš Rosický, Johan Djourou, and a few others haven’t scored in any competitions at all this season while Van Persie has 28 in total, followed by Theo Walcott with six. Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen have three league goals each while Yossi Benayoun has three in all competitions and Thierry Henry has two overall in five appearances.
If this season has been a write off for many players when it comes to scoring, the brightest future looks to belong to youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has scored four goals in just 12 appearances. These include two league goals and a goal each in the Carling Cup and the Champions League. The 18-year-old could turn out to be one of Arsenal’s best players in recent history if he can keep it up while he matures and gains experience.
Other than that, if Walcott, Gervinho, and Andrey Arshavin, who has just two goals in all competitions, don’t pick up the pace pretty soon, things could be pretty lean in the future since Van Persie can’t be relied on to score close to half of the team’s goals for the remainder of the season and Champions League.