Enjoy it while it lasts...
On Wednesday 4 December 2013, Jozy Altidore put Sunderland in front against Chelsea. It turned out to be his only goal in 42 Premier League games for the Black Cats, following one in 28 for Hull earlier in his career – a devastatingly poor return for a man who has scored 42 in 113 USA internationals. (Oh, and Chelsea came back to win 4-3.)
Fairly or unfairly, Altidore developed a reputation as one of the least efficient strikers in top-flight history. But who else has failed to threaten the scoreboards, except perhaps with wayward volleys? By analysing the raw data supplied by our friends at STATS, behold the most goal-shy forwards in the history of the Premier League...
16. John Utaka (Portsmouth)
Games: 65 • Goals: 7 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.17
Utaka wasn't a bad player per se, but epitomised the excess at Portsmouth before their unrelenting fall from grace. He even assisted the goal for Nwankwo Kanu in the FA Cup final against Cardiff in 2008 in a team boasting the likes of Sulley Muntari, Lass Diarra and Sol Campbell. While those household names went on to bigger and better things, serious issues at board level saw the inevitable slide down the divisions.
Rumours at the time suggested that Utaka was on more than Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas; that can't be confirmed, but when the club went into administration in 2010, player wages were a staggering 109% of revenue.
15. Andy Clarke (Wimbledon)
Games: 123 • Goals: 11 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.17
Despite his far from prolific record for the Crazy Gang, Clarke was a mainstay of the side for seven years with his hard-running, no-frills approach to the game. Having joined after that famous Wembley win for Vinny Jones & Co., he was part of a Wimbledon side that finished seventh in the Premier League and twice reached cup semi-finals - not bad for a player who started out in the Greek Cypriot park leagues of his native North London.
14. Gerard Deulofeu (Everton)
Games: 62 • Goals: 5 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.16
Deulofeu, not known for his goalscoring exploits, spent a total of two and a half seasons with Everton before his first club, FC Barcelona, used their option of a buy-back clause and re-signed him for some €12m. The Catalan giants packed him off to Milan for the rest of the season where he did well enough to be kept at the Camp Nou this term, where he occasionally kicks a ball around with Leo and Luis.
13. Bryan Ruiz (Fulham)
Games: 68 • Goals: 8 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.15
A scorer of great goals rather than a great goalscorer, Ruiz spent four years at Craven Cottage, sometimes – but not frequently – punctuated by acts of footballing brilliance.
The Costa Rican may have had an aversion to breaking into a sweat but he still delighted Fulham fans with goals directly from corner kicks, stunning lobs, an exquisite first touch and the occasional screamer.
12. El Hadji Diouf (Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn)
Games: 243 • Goals: 28 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.14
Pantomime villain extraordinaire and all-round bad guy Diouf arrived at Anfield for a then whopping £10m after the 2002 World Cup, having been named African Player of the Year. The fantastic tournament he and Senegal enjoyed raised expectations to a level he could never maintain and throughout the course of his career in England he amassed more than double the number of cards (58) than he did goals (28). In the running for pound-for-pound worst-ever Liverpool signing: after all, Andy Carroll never went a whole season without finding the net, as Diouf did during his 26-game 2003/04 campaign.
11. Kenny Miller (Wolves, Derby)
Games: 55 • Goals: 6 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.13
Both of Miller's seasons in the Premier League ended with his team being relegated having come rock-bottom of the division. True, some good players have fought valiantly in doomed outfits, but Miller – who has scored 102 goals in 256 Rangers games – managed just six in 55 Premier League outings.
To be fair, as with a few others on this list he did tend to score some belters. He notched a winner against Manchester United, a last-minute equaliser against Liverpool and a swerving 30-yard half-volley in his first game for the Rams that brought their only victory of that spectacularly terrible 2007/08 season.
10. Jeremie Aliadiere (Arsenal, West Ham, Middlesbrough)
Games: 94 • Goals: 8 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.13
Aliadiere came through the famed Clairefontaine academy shortly after France's home World Cup victory in 1998 and was, of course, snapped up by Arsene Wenger. The world-class facility near the French capital has been responsible for the development of the likes of Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and Blaise Matuidi.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, West Ham and Boro, it also produced Aliadiere. He made his Premier League debut for the Gunners in February 2002, and last appeared in the top flight for Boro in May 2009; his 94 games across those seven years yielded just eight goals.
9. Ronny Rosenthal (Liverpool, Tottenham)
Games: 118 • Goals: 10 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.13
Crossbar-botherer Rosenthal joined Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool towards the back end of their title-winning 1989/90 season and appeared to be money well spent when he notched a perfect hat-trick on his debut and contributed seven goals in his first eight appearances.
It was all downhill from there in terms of goals for the former Standard Liege and Maccabi Haifa man, who spent three years at Spurs before helping Watford win promotion back to the big time, even scoring the Second Division goal of the season in 1997/98. But you don't remember any of that, do you? You just remember that miss against Aston Villa. Life can be cruel.
8. Carl Leaburn (Wimbledon)
Games: 56 • Goals: 4 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.12
"I saw Carl Leaburn score", it said on T-shirts sold outside The Valley. Leaburn was a cult hero at second-tier Charlton, his selflessness and indefatigable leg-work doing plenty to offset a lack of goals. Rumour has it that he appeared in an episode of EastEnders, while Clive Mendonca rates him as his greatest ever strike partner.
After the almost inevitable move to top-flight Wimbledon in 1998, where his goalscoring record actually worsened while his popularity inexplicably grew. He scored half of his Dons goal total in one game, 'away' at Crystal Palace – where the Dons were lodging between the closure of Plough Lane and the club-shredding move to Milton Keynes.
7. George Boyd (Hull, Burnley)
Games: 101 • Goals: 9 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.11
Early in his career, Stevenage fans christened Boyd "The White Pele", but Edson Arantes do Nascimento was never forced to clamber up the divisions like Boyd did. Switching from non-league Stevenage to Peterborough, he rose with the club from the fourth tier to the second, then helped Hull into the top flight.
Skilful yet hard-working, Boyd proved willing to play anywhere across midfield or the front line. He only scored twice in 30 for Hull, but had shown enough to tempt Burnley, where he scored seven in 71.
6. Daryl Murphy (Sunderland, Newcastle)
Games: 72 • Goals: 4 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.11
Rob Earnshaw, Danny Graham, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Daryl Murphy: file under "too good for the Championship, not quite up to the Premier League." Rafa Benitez bought Murphy, then 33, in summer 2016 to do a specific job for second-tier job for Newcastle – and as soon as promotion was guaranteed, promptly sold him.
The Irish target man first hit the top flight up the road in Sunderland, scoring four in 72 Premier League games (either side of 10 in 38 in the 2006/07 Championship season). Besides the Tyne-Wear rivals he’s played second-tier football for Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Nottingham Forest, plundering 89 in 295 at that level – but he hasn’t played a Premier League minute since Sunderland lost 7-2 to Chelsea in January 2010, and as he turns 35 in March, it would take a desperate top-flight team to change that now.
5. Tommy Smith (Watford, Portsmouth, QPR)
Games: 87 • Goals: 6 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.10
Having played just a handful of games for Watford in their promotion campaign in 1998/99, Smith established himself as a mainstay the following season. The Hornets finished bottom, but he scored twice - including an eye-catching strike against runaway winners Manchester United.
Never prolific, Smith tended to score important or notable goals: he scored the winner in the FA Cup quarter-final two seasons running and his goals contributed to two vital wins as QPR stayed up on the final day of the 2011/12 season.
4. Craig Fagan (Birmingham, Derby, Hull)
Games: 70 • Goals: 5 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.09
Fagan played 22 times for the record-breakingly awful Derby County side of 2007/08 without scoring a single goal. Somehow this brought him to the attention of Hull City, and somehow it worked out: he scored all of three goals, but two of them earned draws without which they would've been relegated.
With Fagan unable to replicate his incredible goals-to-points magic the following season, Hull succumbed to gravity and the Brummie saw out his career with Bradford, Bury, Gillingham and a side in Brunei.
3. Richard Cresswell (Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester, Stoke)
Games: 67 • Goals: 2 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.07
When Cresswell scored a thumping header against Liverpool little more than a month after leaving York City for a fee of £1m, his future looked very bright indeed... until he only managed one more Premier League goal in a further 25 appearances for the Owls.
He moved to Leicester and took his lack of goals with him – zero in eight appearances –and although he scored fairly regularly in the Football League for Preston, Leeds and Stoke, the Potters' promotion to the Premier League prompted a reversion to type: he played 30 top-flight games without bothering the onion bag.
2. Jozy Altidore (Hull, Sunderland)
Games: 70 • Goals: 2 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.05
Jozy Altidore is not a bad player. Quick, strong and versatile, he’s plundered 41 goals in 110 USA internationals, 61 in 127 MLS gsmes and 51 during a 93-game spell at AZ Alkmaar. But the big man goes through feast or famine: he couldn’t cut it at Villarreal (three in 22 games), at Turkish top-flight side Bursaspor (one in 12) and he sure as heck hasn’t wowed the Premier League.
Hull were the first English side to try him, borrowing him from a clearly delighted Villarreal and watching him score once in 28 games. The move to AZ worked enough wonders for Sunderland to swoop, but one goal in 42 was a miserable return and he left for Toronto FC – for whom he promptly began bagging regularly again.
1. ANDY GRAY (LEEDS, NOTTINGHAM FOREST, SUNDERLAND)
Games: 51 • Goals: 1 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.03
Nephew of Leeds legend Eddie Gray, Andy – not to be confused with the one off Sky, or indeed the ex-Palace midfielder – played in four separate Premier League seasons but only found the net in one... and just once in more than 50 top-flight appearances.
Gray made his Premier League bow for Leeds in January 1996, making a further 20 top-flight appearances without beating a goalkeeper. A switch to Nottingham Forest brought a further eight goal-free Premier games before he dipped back into the second tier and discovered his goal touch, tempting Sunderland to sign him for £1.1m in August 2005. He scored on his Black Cats debut – a 3-1 home defeat to Charlton – and suffered a further 20 blanks before dropping down again.
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