EPL clubs shamed by poor goals to­tal a

Sunday News - - FOOTBALL - PAUL HAY­WARD

IF de­fend­ing has gone to pot, as many pun­dits claim, you won­der why so many English Premier League clubs are strug­gling to field a top-scorer with more than be­tween three and six goals in 22 matches.

Striker-de­fi­ciency anx­i­ety is the game’s old­est syn­drome. Ev­ery north­ern sum­mer, fans ask: ‘‘Where are our goals go­ing to come from?’’ Own­ers and chief ex­ec­u­tives fear this scru­tiny above any. The fail­ure to sign some­one guar­an­teed to ‘‘give you 15-20 goals a sea­son’’ is a mark of shame they carry for the whole cam­paign.

Mean­while, the cult of the fin­isher grows apace, with Spurs ace Harry Kane the main re­buke to clubs who have failed to spot and sign one of the lethal for­wards who are sup­pos­edly dot­ted every­where, if you only cared to look.

For­give the long list, but a scan of the lead­ing scor­ers in each Premier League team tells a story about de­mand out­strip­ping sup­ply, poor re­cruit­ment, and why so many clubs are stalked by rel­e­ga­tion with 16 games to go.

West Brom and New­cas­tle bring up the rear, with three goals each for Jay Ro­driguez and Salomon Ron­don (WBA) and Dwight Gayle and Joselu (New­cas­tle), but they are not tailed off. Here are some oth­ers — Burn­ley: four (Chris Wood of New Zealand in a hand­ful of games); Crys­tal Palace: four (Luka Milivo­je­vic and Wil­fried Zaha); Swansea: four (Tammy Abra­ham); Stoke: four (Mame Bi­ram Diouf, Eric Maxim ChoupoMot­ing and Xher­dan Shaqiri).

Mov­ing up, slightly: Bournemouth: five (Cal­lum Wil­son); Hud­der­s­field: five (Lau­rent De­poitre); West Ham: five (Marko Ar­nau­tovic); Southamp­ton: six (Char­lie Austin); Brighton: six (Glenn Mur­ray); Wat­ford: six (Ab­doulaye Doucoure).

There are some sur­prises higher up the ta­ble. Arse­nal’s top scorer is Alexan­dre La­cazette with

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