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? We’ve crunched the numbers to pick out 18 players who really do love netting against a particular club.
Emmanuel Adebayor vs Tottenham
Apps: 15, Goals: 10, Games scored in: 8
Arsenal fans couldn't fault the moody marksman's achievements against the local rivals who were also his future employers. The Togolese striker endeared himself to the Gooner faithful on numerous occasions with his derby-day exploits, scoring in seven of the nine north London showdowns he played in.
Arsenal only lost one of them – a 5-1 thumping in the League Cup in 2007-08. 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 2010-11.
Eric Cantona vs Man City
Apps: 8. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 6.
The King done good against his side’s crosstown rivals, scoring in six of his seven derbies for Manchester United. He was only ever on the losing side against City once – for Leeds – and clearly didn’t like what he’d seen.
Cantona scored his first in March 1993, enjoyed braces in both 1993-94 clashes and then added another three in as many matches – including in the Reds’ 1996 FA Cup fifth-round triumph. City, by that stage, were sick of the sight of him.
Seydou Doumbia vs Aarau
Apps: 8. Goals: 12. Games scored in: 7.
The occasional goal-getter 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 speedy forward. 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 poor Aarau 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.
Didier Drogba vs Arsenal
Apps: 15. Goals: 13. Games scored in: 8.
Drogba’s goals against the Gunners meant he was only ever on the losing side once – the last appearance of his first spell in west London.
The Ivorian frontman found the net 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). Arsenal continually struggled to handle his power and aerial prowess, allowing Drogba to routinely wreak havoc against Chelsea’s London rivals.
Javier Hernandez vs Chelsea
Apps: 13. Goals: 8. Games scored in: 8.
Eight goals in eight different games against a direct rival isn’t bad going, especially when you consider that half of Hernandez’s outings came off the bench.
The Mexican’s super-sub displays earned Manchester United a point and victory in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns respectively, although his goal off the bench in January 2014 amounted to nothing in his side’s 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge. He failed to score against the Blues for West Ham in December 2017, but the Hammers did at least pick up all three points at the London Stadium.
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 faced them.
First he smashed four in the 2010-11 Europa League semi-final first leg in Porto, before adding another in the return fixture. When he moved to Atletico Madrid the Yellow Submarine cowered with fear once again, as he netted twice in Madrid and then again at the Estadio El Madrigal. Villarreal won’t want to run into Monaco in European competition any time soon.
Les Ferdinand vs Everton
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 of 1992-93 he bagged a hat-trick at Goodison Park, before regularly notching against the Toffees for QPR, Newcastle, Tottenham and again with Leicester.
Ferdinand also scored liberally against Spurs, notching 16 goals in 21 appearances, which is perhaps part of the reason why the north Londoners snapped up the striker in 1997.
Rickie Lambert vs Millwall
Apps: 9. Goals: 10. Games scored in: 7.
Millwall fans rejoiced when Southampton returned to the Premier League in 2011-12: after all, that meant they'd no longer have to endure Lambert’s ominous presence.
The two sides locked horns four times in Saints' promotion season, with Lambert netting in three of them – including a Championship treble at The Den. It was a continuation of the 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.
Sergio Aguero vs Newcastle
Apps: 12. Goals: 14. Games scored in: 8.
Newcastle fans still shudder at the thought of the Argentine's five-goal spree in 2015-16 – and he only played for 66 minutes that day. In two of the four appearances he hasn't scored against the Magpies, he was on the pitch for less than 20 minutes, but then again he doesn't often need long: back in 2014-15, the Argentine replaced Edin Dzeko in the 83rd minute and still managed to round off a 2-0 win.
Newcastle succeeded in keeping Aguero quiet in a 1-0 defeat in December, but it later turned out they’d just made him angry: less than a month later, the ex-Atletico Madrid man scored a hat-trick against Rafael Benitez’s men at the Etihad.
Romelu Lukaku vs West Ham
Apps: 13. Goals: 11. Games scored in: 10.
Lukaku didn't score in his first two games against the Hammers during a 2012-13 loan spell at West Brom, but he’s tormented them ever since.
The Belgium international has bagged in 10 of his last 11 meetings with West Ham, having extended his fine record with two goals for new club Manchester United earlier this season. In 2015-16 he became the first player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive games against an opponent for the same club. David Moyes won’t be looking forward to facing him at the London Stadium in the next couple of months.
Michael Owen vs Newcastle
Apps: 10. Goals: 13. Games scored in: 7.
Only twice did Owen fail to score 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 1998-99 before following that with two doubles 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.
Owen would later score 26 league goals in four years for Newcastle – only double the amount he’d scored against them.
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, converting in seven of his first eight appearances against Spurs, including in the Gunners’ famous 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane which wrapped up the title in April 2004.
The former France international later came face to face with Tottenham during a short stint at Aston Villa in 2010-11, but he was unable to make the net bulge on that occasion. Still, his overall record against the Lilywhites was very impressive indeed.
Luis Suarez vs Norwich
Apps: 6. Goals: 12. Games scored in: 5.
The Uruguayan’s brilliant record against the Canaries is common knowledge, but it’s utterly ridiculous nonetheless. Liverpool have stuck five past Norwich in four of their last six league matches, not least thanks to Suarez’s stunning four-goal salvo at Anfield in 2013-14. He scored again in the return game at Carrow Road, having helped himself to hat-tricks in the two preceding seasons.
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 strikes in four appearances during his Wimbledon days.
Ryan Taylor vs Newcastle
Apps: 6. Goals: 4. Games scored in: 4.
He might have spent six-and-a-half years there as a player, 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; the first in 2006-07, another the following season and then two in each match of the 2008-09 campaign. Three of them came via his trademark free-kicks, while the other was a well-taken effort from range.
Fernando Torres vs Chelsea
Apps: 10. Goals: 7. Games scored in: 5.
Before he rocked up at Stamford Bridge and stopped scoring, the Spaniard relished sticking the boot into Chelsea during his Liverpool days. Torres netted against the Blues at Anfield in his debut season of 2007-08, before sending the Champions League semi-final to extra-time with an equaliser at Stamford Bridge. He grabbed a brace the following campaign, added another in November 2010, and then swapped clubs for £50m in January.
Torres faced Chelsea as an Atletico Madrid player during the 2017-18 campaign, but was unable to score in two Champions League outings.
David Nugent vs Ipswich
Apps: 16. Goals: 15. Games scored in: 12.
For Ipswich fans, Public Enemy No.1 is surely Derby striker Nugent. The former England man has haunted the Tractor Boys with four different clubs – Preston, Portsmouth, Leicester and Boro – never failed to score at Portman Road, and been on the losing side only once. He even bagged at Ipswich’s ground for England U21s in 2006.
“You could say they’re one of my favourite teams to play against,” Nugent once chuckled, before bagging a brace the following day. “I made my debut for Preston at home against them and scored, and it’s kicked on from there.”
Ruud van Nistelrooy vs Newcastle
Apps: 10. Goals: 11. Games scored in: 8.
Van Nistelrooy struck in both games against Newcastle in his Premier League debut season of 2001-02, and followed that up with a hat-trick in a 5-3 Manchester United triumph the following campaign.
The Dutchman wasn’t done there, notching in a brilliant 6-2 victory in 2002-03 as Alex Ferguson’s men ran riot at St James’ Park, although he failed to score in the return fixture at Old Trafford. Order was restored the next season, Van Nistelrooy adding another three goals to his tally against the Magpies, two of which came in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Robin van Persie vs Stoke
Apps: 12. Goals: 11. Games scored in: 10.
No player in English football had scored in eight successive league games against a single opponent until the Dutchman did just that against Stoke in February 2014. Potters fans must have been delighted when Van Persie left Manchester United – and the Premier League – 17 months later.
In his first appearance the then-Arsenal frontman bagged a third-round FA Cup winner against Stoke, and had only failed to score in his first league outing against them until his final two contests against the Staffordshire-based outfit for a United side on the slide.