Official! The 16 lowest-scoring forwards in Premier League history
Disclaimer: list excludes Paul Stewart, Alan Smith (Arsenal version) and Brian McClair, whose low strike rates in the Premier League era fail to take into account their far better scoring rate pre-1992
16. John Utaka (Portsmouth)
Games: 65 • Goals: 7 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.17
- Note: all data taken from STATS, players ranked on their goal-to-minute ratio over a minimum of 50 Premier League appearances
In a similar way that the office goldfish and Seth John's wage negotiations have epitomized Leeds United's fall from grace, Utaka has become part of Portsmouth's own mythology. That he denied the rumor he was earning more than Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas during his goal-shy stint on the south coast is neither here nor there.
Accurate or not, the story speaks to a grander truth of calamitous financial recklessness. Utaka wasn't terrible for Pompey – he even laid on the goal that won them the FA Cup – but he will forever be remembered as symbolic of the club's Icarus-like idiocy.
15. Andy Clarke (Wimbledon)
Games: 123 • Goals: 11 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.17
A semi-legendary star of Barry Fry’s Barnet side of the early ’90s, Clarke made his name in the top tier with Wimbledon, where his no-frills, hard-running MO fitted in a treat despite his relative paucity of goals.
By the end of his seven years with the Crazy Gang, he’d scored just 23 times. Yet he was a firm fixture in a squad that had reached two cup semi-finals (he arrived too late for the dethroning of the Culture Club) and finished sixth in the top flight – not bad going for a player whose career started in north London’s Greek Cypriot park leagues.
14. Gerard Deulofeu (Everton)
Games: 62 • Goals: 5 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.16
The concept of 'failing upwards' affects a lucky few, but alongside the likes of Boris Johnson and James Corden, we can add the perennial Barcelona loanee and specialist in flattering to deceive, Gerard Delofeu. His initial spell at Goodison, which bore three goals in 25 outings, wasn't enough to deter Sevilla from taking him on the following season, where he both won a Europa League medal and was voted into Marca’s worst team of the season.
Another two uninspiring years on Merseyside (and two goals in 37) led to him being snapped up, inexplicably, by Milan. A middling half-season there resulted in the customary loan being eschewed for now. So naturally the attacker has been spending recent months playing semi-regularly alongside Messi, Suarez & Co., with a La Liga medal almost certainly awaiting come May. Funny old world.
13. Bryan Ruiz (Fulham)
Games: 68 • Goals: 8 • Goals per 90 mins: 0.15
Not, it must be admitted, a great goalscorer. But Ruiz was nonetheless no stranger to the occasional great goal during a four-season spell with Fulham in which he provided the Craven Cottage crown with performances that were the dictionary definition of ‘mercurial’.
On the one hand, entire swathes of a season would go by without the Costa Rican stroller so much as breaking into a light jog. On the other hand, there were the caressed curlers, impish lobs, the odd stonking screamer, one goal bent in directly from a corner – and first touches like this. Swings and roundabouts.