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Bit of a lean spell – five strikers who struggled to score


Bit of a lean spell – five strikers who struggled to score

Bit of a lean spell – five strikers who struggled to score

It’s fair to say Newcastle United have done better than expected so far this season. Steve Bruce’s side aren’t exactly marauding up the table – they’re currently 13th in the Premier League – but they have at least managed to steer clear of the relegation woes that many were predicting for the club.

For Newcastle’s Brazilian import Joelinton, though, this hasn’t been a campaign to enhance the striker’s reputation. After bagging a goal away against Tottenham in the third match of the season, the 23-year-old has failed to score any other Premier League goals since then – and the support are starting to grow a touch restless.

Purchased for a club record £40 million, the forward’s inability to find the net is a concern. The goal drought is one of the trickiest experiences an attacking player can endure, after all.

Of course, there are dry spells and there are dry spells. While Joelinton’s dearth of goals is attracting a few “what are you going to do” type shrugs, over in Spain pundits are agog at Lionel Messi’s current goal woes.

At the time of writing, the Argentinian phenomenon has gone four entire matches without scoring a goal, and yep, it’s a crisis. Lord knows how Shane Long would get on over there.

But while four games without finding the net might not sound worth getting worked up about, to be fair it’s Messi’s own standards that he’s failing to live up to; this is the Barca ace’s longest goal-free streak since January 2014.

We’re confident Leo will somehow bounce back from his current difficulties. In the meantime, here’s our guide to some of the most notorious goal-shy strikers of all time…

Christian Benteke

It sounds hard to accept, but there was a time when Benteke was looked upon as one of football’s hotter prospects. The Belgian scored 23 goals in his first season at Aston Villa, and if he couldn’t match those numbers following a move to Liverpool, his first season at Crystal Palace was encouraging, with 17 goals in all competitions.

It’s been diminishing returns ever since, though; Benteke scored three goals all season in the 2017/18 campaign, his last coming in April 2018. His next goal in any competition would come a year later, the big man finally getting off the mark in a 3-2 victory over Southampton in April 2019.

And it’s been a similarly disappointing story this season too; Benteke’s first league goal came earlier this month, when he found the net against Everton – that’s despite having played 17 times for the Eagles in this campaign. For Benteke, these days droughts are seemingly de rigeur.

Fernando Torres

It seems wrong even to place such a fine player in a list like this, but the facts remain that after an initial stint of sheer irrepressibility, for a while the brilliant Torres lost his mojo. A blistering first season at Liverpool was followed by a few seasons where the returns may have been fewer, but the Spaniard remained a potent force.

Yet after his January move to Chelsea – a transfer that cost £50 million, at the time a record in Britain – Torres toiled, having to wait until his 14th game in all competitions before finally scoring for the Blues.

It was the forward’s first and only goal for Chelsea that season; the following campaign didn’t show a huge improvement either, with just six league goals to show for Torres’ efforts, who at one point went 24 games in all competitions without scoring. While he would improve in subsequent seasons, his time at Chelsea is generally seen as underwhelming.

Shane Long

Expectations for some strikers are lower than others, of course. Long’s been a mainstay at Southampton for six seasons now, but has only ever reached a double figure goal tally once. In the 2016-’17 season he scored a total of three goals in the Prem, while the following campaign saw him find the old onion bag twice all season – both of which were defeats for the Saints.

Not that such chronically cataclysmic form appears to have hurt the Irishman’s chances at Southampton – he’s made 16 league appearances in the current campaign, scoring one league goal to date…

Georgios Samaras

Man City might be having a tough time of it in 2020. But whatever their troubles, they’re a long way removed from the City of the 2006/07 season, when the club finished 14th in the league, and their top scorer was Joey Barton (with six league goals).

Joey had to pick up the pace, because Greek import Georgios Samaras wasn’t the most reliable of scorers; the forward notched up four league goals all season. He at least started 2007 in style, scoring two goals on New Year’s Day, and followed that up a week later with a goal in the FA Cup – and then didn’t score another one until September.

It would be the last time he delivered for Man City, with the player moving on to Celtic at the start of 2008. Samaras’ time at Man City had yielded a total of 12 goals in all competitions.

El Hadji Diouf

In terms of pure goalscoring El Hadji Diouf was not a success during his time at Liverpool. Fortunately, the happy-go-lucky Diouf was so well liked that he could get by on sheer charm for much of his time at Anfield, where his irresistible combination of good humour and a keen sense of sporting fair play endeared him to fans and rivals alike.

We jest of course. One of the most notoriously disliked personalities in the history of the game, Diouf went beyond the pantomime villainy of players like Diego Costa to inspire genuine loathing – but regardless of all that, the two-time Africa Player Of The Year also spent much of his career playing disappointing football.

During his first season in English football Diouf scored a scant three league goals, two of them during his first game at Anfield. Yet during his second year on Merseyside, the Senegalese striker would go the entire campaign without scoring a single goal in any competition – kind of a problem for any striker, let alone one prone to spitting at fans and opposition players alike…

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