It doesn’t matter when you score the goal, all that matters is that the ball does indeed end up in the back of the net. Having said that, haven’t you ever wondered just how frequent goals actually are, especially in a division like the Premier League? Often touted as the “world’s most entertaining league”, goals are naturally a huge selling point for why it remains so popular.
While goals don’t necessarily mean entertainment, they are a good indication at least that a match is more entertaining than a 0-0 draw – just as an example. Here, we will attempt to uncover how often goals do actually occur in the English top flight by assessing the average number of minutes between each of them. We will then compare these numbers to other major European leagues, as well as historical data, to track how they contrast.
Goals in the Premier League
Before we can fully dive into minutes per goal in the Premier League, it’s important to establish how many goals we see per season. Since the Premier League became a 20-team division in 1995 (down from 22 previously), we have tended to see somewhere between 900 and 1100 goals – with the odd exception.
The most goals scored in a single EPL season by all clubs came in 2018/19, which produced 1072, just edging out last season (21/22), which delivered 1071.
In the case of 2018/19, this accounts for a goal-per-game average of 2.8 and was helped massively by Manchester City and Liverpool, each scoring over 88 goals. At the opposite end of the scale, the season which produced the fewest overall goals was 2006/07, with just 931.
In fact, 931 is the lowest tally of any English top-flight season in the post-war era, which speaks to the emphasis that was placed upon defensive solidity during the Benitez/Mourinho era. The goal-per-game average for that season, where the Premier League title was won by Manchester United, was just 2.45, the third lowest in English football history.
Average Minutes Per Goal 2021-22 Season
The 2021/22 season was one of the highest-scoring we’ve seen in the Premier League era, with goals being a very regular occurrence. But how regular did each team find the net last season, and what can this data tell us about the value for money that fans got over the course of this campaign?
Somewhat unsurprisingly, it was Premier League champions Manchester City who had the best goal-per-game ratio out of the 20 teams, having bagged a staggering 99 goals. This translated to an equally ridiculous goal rate, as, on average, City scored every 34.5 minutes per 90 that they played. In fact, Pep Guardiola’s side scored in all but four of the 38 matches they played last season, just underlining how effective their attack was.
Meanwhile, Liverpool weren’t too far behind, having scored a very commendable 94 goals in 2021/22. With this record, they scored on average every 36.4 minutes across their 38 games, which places them well ahead of third-placed Chelsea, whose average of 45 minutes is just about a half of football. Spurs rounded off the top four with a goal every 49 minutes, while Leicester and Arsenal just behind at 55.2 and 56.1, respectively.
At the other end of the table, by far the worst record in terms of goals per minute goes to Norwich City, who finished in 20th in the Premier League table. After scoring a mere 23 goals, Canaries fans only saw their team score once every 148.7 minutes on average, capping off a thoroughly forgettable campaign for all involved.
The next worst ratio came from the other two sides that were relegated that season – Burnley and Watford. Struggling to score goals all season, they did so every 100.6 minutes on average. Wolves, despite earning a respectable mid-table finish in the EPL last season, had the fourth worst goal-per-minute record, scoring once per 90 minutes. Other notable results include Manchester United, who scored every 60 minutes, and Everton, whose average was 80.
Goals Scored In The 2021/22 Premier League Season
|Team||Table position||Goals scored||Goals per game||Mins per goal|
When crunching all of the club data together from last season, what we see is that, on average, there was a Premier League goal every 72.2 minutes.
This accounts for the record of every club, with the average itself not too far from Brentford’s of 71.3 (whose average was 13th best). Naturally, the two extremes of Norwich and Manchester City upset the overall average somewhat, as all but four clubs fell somewhere between 45 and 90 minutes per goal.
Having said that, this does give us a greater understanding of when goals strike in Premier League games and how long we can expect to wait from club to club. In comparison to other seasons, 2021/22 is right up there in terms of goal frequency.
When Do Teams Tend To Score Most Frequently?
All manner of anecdotal theories exists around when the best and worst time to score is during a football match. For instance, conceding right before halftime is always viewed as especially damaging, while some regard a 2-0 lead as perilous, even if the data doesn’t support that idea. In reality, it’s hard to quantify how legitimate any of these theories are, but what we can delve into is at what time goals tend to occur during matches.
Last season in the Premier League, we actually saw more goals (54%) scored in the second half of matches compared to the first half, a stat which is generally repeated across the major six leagues in Europe. More specifically, out of the 1071 goals that were scored in the EPL last season, 240 of them, or 22.4% of them, were scored in the final 15 minutes of normal time. This is the largest percentage when the game is broken down into 15-minute segments, with minutes 31-45 coming second at 17.9%.
As one might imagine, the part of the match which saw the fewest goals last season was during the first 15 minutes, with only 147 goals – or 13.7% of the total scored. Further to this, we also see how the first goal of a match occurred at minute 31 on average, with the second coming at minute 50.
Players With The Best Minutes Per Goal Ratio
Away from the records of clubs, the Premier League has also been graced by some phenomenal goalscorers who have compiled incredible goals-per-game ratios down the years. It’s common knowledge that Alan Shearer holds the record for the most EPL goals in history, at 260. However, does the former Blackburn and Newcastle marksman also top the minutes-per-goal chart, or will that instead go to an even more prolific finisher?
The answer comes in the form of Argentine legend Sergio Aguero. During his decade-long spell with Manchester City, the South American ace scored 184 goals in 275 Premier League games. His numbers did not drop after Gabriel Jesus’ arrival either, as he has scored 72 times in 110 appearances since January 2017. A Manchester City legend in his own right, Aguero will go down as one of the finest strikers in the Premier League era.
Next up are Thierry Henry and Mohamed Salah, who are each on 122 minutes per goal, and 127, respectively (as of the time of writing). The Egyptian icon has been on fire for The Reds since moving to Merseyside in 2017. Salah has won the Premier League Golden Boot three times since then, thanks to his 122 strikes in 197 league games. Efficiency and effectiveness have been vital to Salah’s game during his Liverpool career, as is evidenced by his ability to score a league goal every 126 minutes on average.
Spurs and England forward Harry Kane, the man who is widely tipped to one day surpass Shearer as the EPL’s all-time top scorer, is just behind Salah on 129 minutes per goal. Currently sitting on 185 goals from 285 games, his record speaks for itself. While Salah’s ratio is undoubtedly beatable, it seems highly unlikely that Kane, or any striker for that matter, will better Aguero’s 107 mins per goal anytime soon.
Premier League Goalscorers With The Best Minutes-Per-Goal Ratio
|Player||EPL Clubs played for||Games played||Goals scored||GPG||Mins per goal|
|Sergio Aguero||Manchester City||275||184||0.68||108|
|Mohamed Salah||Liverpool, Chelsea||197||122||0.64||127|
|Ruud van Nistelrooy||Manchester United||150||95||0.63||128|
Are Goals Being Scored At A Different Time Now Compared To Historically?
In terms of the Premier League era, one thing we can conclude is that the best teams in the league are scoring more goals than ever before. In the very first Premier League season, Manchester United scored just 67 goals on their way to winning the title, in spite of playing 42 games in total.
Indeed, out of the five highest scoring teams in EPL history, only one came before 2010 – Manchester United in 1999/2000. Since then, Liverpool, Manchester City (twice) and Chelsea have all hit the 100-goal mark, which certainly bumps up the goal-per-minute average. With that being said, one could also argue that the great disparity between the big sides and those at the bottom of the table has also contributed to more goals being scored overall.
For instance, the only sides to score 20 goals in Premier League history (the lowest amount ever recorded) have both been after 2008. It began with Derby County’s historically bad campaign in 2007/08, which Sheffield United have since matched, while Huddersfield (22) and Norwich City (23) have also run it close over the past five years. For clarity, 20 goals in a season translate to a goal every 171 minutes – which is very nearly a goal every two games.
To show just how much this is a departure from the past, in 1992/93, the team which finished bottom that year, Nottingham Forest, scored 41 goals – more than double the amount of Derby and Sheffield United. Even in 1995/96, the very first 38-match season, Bolton still amassed 39 goals, which just highlights how significant the disparity now is between the haves and the have-nots.
Lowest Goal Totals In Premier League History
|Team||PL Season||Goals scored||Mins per goal|
As we’ve shown, the rate of goals scored in the Premier League tends to vary massively depending upon the club – and the success they are having at the time. The variation between the best and worst teams in the top-flight is arguably most starkly and strikingly expressed by the goals-per-minute metric. It also shows how vastly different a fan’s experience can be and how starved of goals the supporters of struggling sides normally are.
This is especially true in the modern era, where, in the absence of true out-and-out goalscoring forwards, clubs at the bottom of the table are finding it trickier and trickier to score with regularity. If there is one takeaway from the data presented, it is that the gulf between the sides at the opposite ends of the table has never been wider, at least when it comes to goals.