Football Features

Is Diogo Jota the Premier League’s most two-footed striker?

By Harry Edwards

Published: 10:00, 31 January 2024

Some strikers seem to have no weak foot.

There’s no better example of this in the Premier League right now than Diogo Jota.

The Portuguese forward has had a rough time of late with injuries. But when he’s fully fit, he’s one of the most well-rounded players in the Premier League.

Since the start of the 2018/19 season in both the Premier League and European football, Jota has had 140 shots with his left foot, 162 with his right and 80 headed efforts. In terms of goals, this converts to 23 with his left, 35 with his right and 10 with his head — double figures for all three body parts.

With his right foot, Jota has hit the target 71 times for a shot accuracy of 43.8% and an xG of 28.9, over-performing by 6.1 with his 35 goals. On his left, it’s 63 on target (45% accuracy) and an xG of 23.1, only slightly under-performing with 23 goals. And when it comes to headers, Jota has hit the target 29 times for an accuracy of 36.3% and an xG of 14.4 (under-performing by 4.4).

“I think of some of the strikers I’ve played alongside: Michael Owen, Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, Robbie Fowler. I think [Jota] is the best finisher,” former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports of Jota.

“Robbie [Fowler] maybe [could be ahead of him] in terms of pure finishing, hard and low, into the corner. But [his two goals against Bournemouth are] typical Jota. When he gets the chance he is so clinical.

“When everyone’s fit, he’s probably not even playing. But I still think he’s a better finisher than the likes of Suarez, Torres, even Salah. The only one who can compete with him is Robbie Fowler at the start of the Premier League years.”

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Speaking to Squawka this week, former Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson added: “Jota’s a perfect example of how good the recruitment and Klopp’s development has been since he’s been manager.

“I think they signed him for around £40m, and people thought that was too much money, but now that looks cheap. Their recruitment has been great. Nobody thought Jota was going to be as good as he is, I wouldn’t even have said he was the best player at Wolves at the time, so the fact that they’ve got someone that was on the fringe at Wolves and turned him into a player that’s good enough to be a top player, it’s a perfect example of their recruitment.”

Across Europe’s top seven leagues, the Champions League and Europa League since 2018/19, only two out of 13,157 players have attempted at least 30% of shots with their right foot, 30% with their left and 20% with their head. Of course, Jota is one of those, and he is joined by former Premier League striker Jamie Vardy.

The similarities do not end there. In particular Arsenal fans should fear Jota as much as they did Vardy. Among all the players to have played Arsenal at the Emirates, none have scored more than Jota and Vardy (level on five goals each). Three of those goals at the Emirates came in the 2021/22 season, including a brace in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, securing Liverpool a 2-0 aggregate victory en route to the final.

Liverpool travel to title rivals Arsenal in just over a week. If Jota becomes the top-scoring visitor to the Emirates, it could prove a decisive goal in the battle to become Premier League champions.

Who are the most two-footed strikers in recent Premier League history?

Jota leads the Premier League for two-footedness among players to have taken at least 100 shots since the start of the 2018/19 season. In that time, He has had 258 shots with his foot in the Premier League, split between 141 on his right and 117 on his left. In percentages, that’s a split of 54.7% to 45.3% and a different of 9.30%, the lowest such difference among the aforementioned group.

Jota is the only player in that time to have a differential of less than 10%. Ademola Lookman is second with a difference of 13.70%, having 56.90% of shots with his stronger right foot and 43.10% on his left. Leandro Trossard completes the top three with a right-left differential of 21%, also favouring his stronger right foot (60.50% to 39.5%).

Player Right-Foot Shots (%) Left-Foot Shots (%) Difference (%)
Diogo Jota 54.7% 45.3% 9.3%
Ademola Lookman 56.9% 43.1% 13.7%
Leandro Trossard 60.5% 39.5% 21%
Jamie Vardy 60.8% 39.2% 21.6%
Ashley Barnes 60.8% 29.2% 21.6%
Son Heung-min 61% 39% 22%
Stuart Armstrong 62% 38% 24%
Chris Wood 63.3% 36.7% 26.6%
Cristiano Ronaldo 63.6% 36.4% 27.2%
Christian Pulisic 63.8% 36.2% 27.6%

What about across the whole of Europe?

When you spread the search across Europe’s top seven leagues, among players to have taken 100+ shots from 2021/22 onwards you’ll get a few of the usual suspects but there is a surprise name leading the way. The most two-footed player in Europe since the start of 2021/22 is Lennart Thy, a German striker who has spent those five seasons in the Eredivisie, first with Sparta Rotterdam and then PEC Zwolle.

Talk about your ambipedal players — 61 of Thy’s 121 shots (with his feet) since 2021/22 have been with his left foot, with 60 on his right. That’s a split of 50.4% to 49.6% and a minimal difference of 0.8%. In second is perhaps the most famous two-footed player in world football, Ousmane Dembele.

When still at Rennes, Dembele was asked by a reporter whether he was right or left-footed, with the Frenchman confirmed he favours the latter.

But get this, Dembele takes penalties with his right foot. In his words, “because I shoot better with my right foot.”

A few years later, Dembele changed his answer to “both”.

Statistically, it seems his left is slightly dominant, responsible for 51.8% of his shots since 2021/22.

Player Right-Foot Shots (%) Left-Foot Shots (%) Difference (%)
Lennart Thy 49.6% 50.4% 0.8%
Ousmane Dembele 48.2% 51.8% 3.6%
Pedro 53.2% 46.8% 6.4%
Piotr Zielinski 55% 45% 10%
Rafael Martins 55.8% 44.2% 11.6%
Simone Verdi 56.6% 43.4% 13.2%
Arnaud Nordin 43.3% 56.7% 13.4%
Serge Gnabry 56.9% 43.1% 13.8%
Francesco Caputo 57.2% 42.8% 14.4%
Edin Dzeko 57.2% 42.8% 14.4%