Joe Brewin picks out the bogeymen who’ve forever haunted the same team…
They're every fan's worst nightmare - the kind of player you know will ruin your afternoon whether he's on the pitch for 30 seconds or an hour, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Your mates will forever tell you that 'X' always scores against their team - but do they really? For this lot below, though, it certainly has been the case (or still is). Van Persie, Cantona, Lambert... Holdsworth?!
If your team features (and some do repeatedly, we're afraid), we're sorry. OK, we're not really. But if yours doesn't and you think we've missed off a horror opposition, don't hesitate to tweet us at @FourFourTwo and we'll add them to the list.
David Nugent vs Ipswich
Apps: 13. Goals: 14. Games scored in: 10*.
There are plenty of people to hate in the world – Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and other sadistic lunatics – but for Ipswich fans, Public Enemy No.1 is surely Leicester’s David Nugent (or "David f***ing Nugent" as he’s known in Suffolk).
The former England man has haunted the Tractor Boys with three different clubs; Preston, Portsmouth and Leicester, and never failed to score at Portman Road. Heck, he even bagged there for England U21s in 2006, when Theo Walcott became the age group’s youngest-ever scorer against Moldova.
“You could say they are one of my favourite teams to play against,” he told the Leicester Mercury last year, before netting a brace the following day. “I made my debut for Preston at home against them and scored, and it’s kicked on from there. It is weird.”
*A day after publishing this, Nugent, of course, scored again against Ipswich.
Everyone else vs Ipswich
Let’s just get their misery out the way, shall we? While Nugent might be their modern-day nemesis, there’ve been others before him…
Apps: 8. Goals: 10. Games scored in: 6.
Andy Cole made a mockery of the Tractor Boys in his Premier League days with Newcastle and Manchester United. His first four appearances against them all produced goals, the fourth being his famous five-goal haul in the Old Trafford side’s record 9-0 thumping. He wouldn’t face them for another six seasons, eventually giving them rare respite for a game in 00/01, before netting for both United and Blackburn in the 01/02 campaign.
Apps: 5. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 4.
Only in Ian Wright’s first game against Ipswich, in 92/93, did he not net against them. In the two campaigns that followed he smashed in eight goals, including hat-tricks in both seasons as Arsenal ran riot.
Apps: 6. Goals: 6. Games scored in: 5.
James Beattie only failed to bag against Ipswich once, in a 3-0 defeat for Southampton back in 00/01. He’d netted in the reverse fixture, though, and did it again the following season, before striking on each of the three occasions he played against them for Sheffield United in the Championship.
Robin van Persie vs Stoke, Blackburn
Apps: 10. Goals: 11. Games scored in: 10.
No player in Premier League history had scored in eight successive league appearances against a single opponent until the Dutchman did just that against Stoke in February. He bagged a third-round FA Cup winner against the Potters in his first appearance, and only failed to score in his first league outing.
Apps: 13. Goals: 13. Games scored in: 9.
...and then there’s Blackburn too, who’ve conceded even more against the prolific Netherlandian. Van Persie found the net in eight of his nine first appearances against the Lancashire outfit, including two braces, and most recently plundered a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 7-1 win in 2011/12.
Didier Drogba vs Arsenal
Apps: 13. Goals: 14. Games scored in: 8.
An obvious one, sure, but Drogba’s goals against the Gunners meant he was only ever on the losing side against them once – his last appearance. The Ivorian powerhouse netted in five league games against Arsene Wenger’s men – three of them braces – and again in the FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield (including another two doubles). Forever Arsene’s nightmare.
Michael Owen vs Newcastle
Apps: 10. Goals: 13. Games scored in: 7.
Only twice did he not net against his future club while playing for Liverpool, while his other ‘failure’ was in a nine-minute cameo for Manchester United.
Owen terrified the Magpies from 1998-2001, thumping a St James’ Park hat-trick in 98/99 before following that with two braces and another treble in his next three appearances against them. Fittingly, his equaliser against the Tyneside outfit in May 2004 came on his last appearance for Liverpool. He'd later score 26 league goals in four years for Newcastle - only double the amount he’d scored against them.
Ruud van Nistelrooy vs Newcastle
Apps: 10. Goals: 11. Games scored in: 8.
Yes, them again. When Owen scarpered for Real Madrid, someone else had to carry on the job of annoying Newcastle fans on a bi-seasonal basis. Actually, Van Nistelrooy had been making a good fist of it two seasons before the Liverpool man’s exit, striking in each game of his debut 01/02 season, a hat-trick in the next and then two more in the following matches. He scored twice in the FA Cup in 2004/05 (after doing so in the league), and then notched another in his final season at Old Trafford.
Thierry Henry vs everyone
The fella was rather good at scoring, wasn’t he? Henry netted 12 times against Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Charlton in his first spell with the Gunners, and added Leeds to the pile with that dramatic FA Cup third-round effort on his comeback. Middlesbrough fans have actually been on the receiving end in the most games (9), but the others aren’t too far behind on 8. Charlton fans were subjected to braces on his first three appearances against them from 2000-02, and another goal on his fourth.
Swansea are the only English side not to have been stung at some point, but that was in a 27-minute substitute’s display the second time around.
Luis Suarez vs Norwich
Apps: 5. Goals: 11. Games scored in: 4.
The Uruguayan’s record against the Canaries is common knowledge, but utterly ridiculous nonetheless. Liverpool have stuck five past Norwich on each of the last three occasions, not least thanks to Suarez’s stunning four-goal salvo when the sides met at Anfield earlier this season. In the two preceding campaigns, meanwhile, he helped himself to hat-tricks. Leave them alone, for crying out loud.
There’s been similar dominance from Dennis Bergkamp, whose eight goals in three games against a hapless RKC Waalwijk included four and three-goal hauls. Dean Holdsworth, meanwhile, tormented Oldham with seven net-ripplers in four appearances during his Wimbledon days.
Eric Cantona vs Man City
Apps: 8. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 6.
The King done good against his side’s city rivals, scoring in six of his seven matches against them in Manchester United colours. He was only ever on the losing side against them once – for Leeds – and clearly didn’t like what he’d seen. In March ’93 he netted his first, enjoyed braces in both 93/94 clashes, and then added another three in as many matches, including in the Reds’ 1996 FA Cup fifth-round triumph.
Rickie Lambert vs Millwall
Apps: 9. Goals: 10. Games scored in: 7.
Southampton reaching the top flight in 2011/12 was good news for Millwall fans: they'd no longer have to endure Lambert’s ominous presence. In the Saints' promotion season, the two sides faced off four times, with Lambert netting in three of them - including a Championship treble at The Den. It was continuation of the burly striker’s menacing form in League One, where he struck five times in as many games against the Lions, four of them with Bristol Rovers.
Les Ferdinand vs Tottenham, Everton
Apps: 12. Goals: 10. Games scored in: 7.
Sir Les had a handy knack of scoring against his former north London employers. He’d already netted against them six times for QPR (3) and Newcastle (3) by the time he’d joined in 1997, but then did it again with West Ham in 02/03 and Leicester in 03/04, the latter in a televised 4-4 thriller.
Apps: 21. Goals: 16. Games scored in: 13.
The former England man played against Everton more than anyone else, and scored against them accordingly. In his first 20-goal season, 92/93, he bagged a hat-trick at Goodison Park, before regularly notching against the Toffees for the Rs, Newcastle, Tottenham and again with Leicester.
Emmanuel Adebayor vs Tottenham
Apps: 14, Goals: 10, Games scored in: 8
Arsenal fans couldn't fault the moody striker's return against his future club. The Togolese hitman endeared himself to the Gooner faithful on numerous occasions with his brilliant derby-day exploits for Arsene Wenger's men, netting in seven of the nine north London showdowns he played in. Arsenal only lost one of them - the 5-1 League Cup thumping of 07/08. He failed to score against the Lilywhites for Manchester City, but netted a Champions League brace against them during his loan spell with Real Madrid in 10/11.
Craig Mackail-Smith vs Leeds
Apps: 5. Goals: 7. Games scored in: 5.
The only English-based player on this list to net in every game against an unfortunate team. The Scotland international scored against Leeds in both fixtures of the 08/09 campaign with Peterborough, and followed it up three seasons later with three strikes in two games for current club Brighton, this time in the Championship. Last season he helped himself to another brace in a 2-2 draw at the Amex Stadium.
Javier Hernandez vs Chelsea
Apps: 13. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 8.
Eight goals in that many games against a rival isn’t bad going, especially when you consider that half of them came off the bench. The Mexican’s super-sub displays earned Manchester United a point and victory in the 11/12 and 12/13 campaigns respectively, although his goal off the bench earlier this season amounted to nothing in his side’s 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres vs Chelsea, Barcelona
Apps: 8. Goals: 7. Games scored in: 5.
Before he rocked up at Stamford Bridge and stopped scoring, the Spaniard couldn’t wait to stick the boot into Chelsea during his Liverpool days. Torres netted against the Blues at Anfield in his debut season of 07/08, before sending the Champions League semi-final to extra-time with an equaliser at Stamford Bridge. He grabbed a pair the following campaign, added another in November 2010, and then swapped clubs for £50m in January.
Apps: 11. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 6.
Not to be sniffed at against a team of Barca’s calibre. Not only did he net Chelsea’s glorious semi-final decider in their victorious Champions League campaign, a younger Torres’ La Liga record with Atletico Madrid wasn’t half bad either. He grabbed his first in 02/03, and then five goals in four games between 2004 and 2006 when his plucky underdogs saw off the cup-toting Catalans three times in a row.
Robert Pires vs Tottenham
Apps: 12. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 7.
Arsenal’s wing wizard epitomised his team’s dominance over their north London rivals in the mid-noughties. He converted in seven of his first eight appearances against Spurs, including in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane which confirmed the title in April 2004.
Ryan Taylor vs Newcastle
Apps: 6. Goals: 4. Games scored in: 4.
He might play for them now, but before heading to St James’ Park in early 2009, Taylor was a menace against his club-to-be. The defender only scored six times in four years at Wigan, but four of them came against the Magpies in his most recent appearances; the first in 06/07, another the following season and then two in each match of the 08/09 campaign. Three of them came via his trademark free-kicks, and the other a well-taken effort from range. If you can’t beat ‘em, sign ‘em.
Seydou Doumbia vs FC Aarau
Apps: 8. Goals: 12. Games scored in: 7.
Crash, bang, wallop. The goal-getting Ivorian enjoyed a blistering two-season spell in Switzerland with Young Boys from 2008-10 – and it’s not difficult to understand why on this evidence.
Poor Aarau clearly didn’t fancy it against the 26-year-old, now plying his trade with CSKA Moscow. Swiss teams play each other four times every campaign, and Doumbia netted in three of them in his first season. He followed that up by demolishing them in all four the following term, kicking off with a double before plundering his first hat-trick for the club. There was a brace in the third, before he wound down with a single in his final outing. He finished the season nine goals ahead of any other player on 30.
Radamel Falcao vs Villarreal
Apps: 4. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 4.
A 200% strike rate, you say? Not bad, you say. For Villarreal it was very, very bad, though, with El Tigre having struck on each occasion he’s played them. First he smashed four in the 10/11 Europa League semi-final first leg in Porto, before adding another in the return fixture. When he moved to Atletico Madrid they cowered with fear once again, as he netted twice in Madrid and then again at the Estadio El Madrigal.
...because these chaps deserve some love too.
- Alan Shearer vs Leeds (Apps: 19, Goals: 20, GSI: 11)
- Wayne Rooney vs Portsmouth (Apps: 15, Goals: 12, GSI: 8)
- Darren Bent vs Bolton (Apps: 12, Goals: 11, GSI: 7) and Arsenal (Apps: 13, Goals: 8, GSI: 6)
- Nicolas Anelka vs Blackburn (Apps: 16, Goals: 12, GSI: 11)
- Billy Sharp vs Blackpool (Apps: 12, Goals: 9, GSI: 7)
- Matt Le Tissier vs Nottingham Forest (Apps: 9, Goals: 8, GSI: 6)
- Alex Revell vs Swindon (Apps: 10, Goals: 8, GSI: 7)
- Efan Ekoku vs Everton (Apps: 8, Goals: 8, GSI: 5)
- Simon Cox vs Leicester (Apps: 8, Goals: 7, GSI: 6)
- Shola Ameobi vs Sunderland (Apps: 16, Goals: 7, GSI: 5)
- Martin Paterson vs Sheffield Wednesday (Apps: 8, Goals: 5, GSI: 4); at Hillsborough with four different teams
- Jack Lester vs Rochdale (Apps: 6, Goals: 6, GSI: 4)
- Heung-Min Son vs Borussia Dortmund (Apps: 5, Goals: 5, GSI: 3)