Football Features

Best Premier League starts for goals & assists: Will Harry Kane mimic Thierry Henry or Teemu Pukki?

By Ben Green

Published: 13:45, 23 October 2020

It has been a breathless start to the new Premier League season, with goals flying in left, right and centre.

No two players have encapsulated this goalscoring glut more than Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who have formed an almost telepathic understanding to rack up a combined 21 direct contributions for Tottenham (12 goals, nine assists) in just five games.

Kane, in particular, has been in scintillating form, with five goals and seven assists to his name, which incidentally makes him the most productive player after five games in Premier League history, breaking Thierry Henry’s previous record set in 2004/05.

But, who sits just below Kane and Henry as the most prolific players to begin a Premier League season, and how did they perform for the rest of the campaign? Did they maintain that early spark to clinch the Golden Boot? Or did they fade into mediocrity as the season progressed?

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Teemu Pukki (Norwich)

Season: 2019/20

Goals and assists after five games: Eight (six goals, two assists)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 14 (11 goals, three assists)

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A blistering start to last season for Teemu Pukki yielded eight direct contributions for Norwich and culminated in goals against Liverpool, Chelsea and of course Man City, who came up short at Carrow Road in a five-goal thriller, with the Canaries sealing a historic 3-2 win over Pep Guardiola’s side.

Unfortunately for Daniel Farke the ‘Pukki party’ somewhat wilted as the season progressed. After the Man City giant-killing, Pukki endured an eight-game drought and only added five to his tally. The Finland international finished the campaign having fired a blank in Norwich’s final 13 games and suffered the ignominy of relegation.

Sergio Aguero (Man City)

Season: 2019/20

Goals and assists after five games: Eight (seven goals, one assist)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 20 (16 goals, four assists)

Current Football Index value: £1.29 (Sell)£1.48 (Buy)

Pukki may have been a surprise early candidate for the Golden Boot last season, but no one was shocked to see Man City’s record goalscorer leading the charts in the embryonic stages of 2019/20. The Argentine was on target in his opening six games, including back-to-back braces against Bournemouth and Brighton.

Where Pukki came unstuck, though, Aguero maintained his purple patch. Various injury problems restricted him to just 24 appearances last term, but when he did play, more often than not he found the back of the net, and 16 goals was a respectable return.

Andy Cole (Newcastle)

Season: 1994/95

Goals and assists after five games: Nine (six goals, three assists)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 26 (21 goals, five assists)

It was as you were for Andy Cole in 1994/95. Having flourished on Tyneside the previous campaign, where his clinical scoring exploits returned a quite breathtaking 34 goals (the record for a 22-team Premier League season), Cole wasted no time in extending his final third devastation for Newcastle.

Such was Cole’s form at St. James’ Park that Sir Alex Ferguson offered a king’s ransom for his signature midway through the campaign, making him the most expensive British player at the time. He quickly translated that form for Man Utd and finished the season on 21 goals (12 of which came as a Red Devil).

He lifted the 1993/94 Golden Boot, but was unable to retain his accolade, which instead went to Alan Shearer, who mimicked his 34 goals from the season prior.

Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Season: 2010/11

Goals and assists after five games: Nine (four goals, five assists)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 24 (11 goals, 13 assists)

A Chelsea legend in every sense. In 2010/11, the Ivorian may not have followed up from his Golden Boot-winning exploits from the season prior, where he notched an eye-watering 29 goals, but he started the campaign with a hat-trick and followed up with a hat-trick of assists in game two.

If he stayed on that trajectory we would have been looking at metrics that even the stats boffins wouldn’t have been able to keep up with. Instead he finished on a modest 11 goals for the season, but he did record a quite brilliant 13 assists as Carlo Ancelotti’s side finished second, showing there was so much more to his game than pure goalscoring virtuosity.

Sergio Aguero (Man City)

Season: 2011/12

Goals and assists after five games: Nine (eight goals, one assist)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 31 (23 goals, eight assists)

Where Drogba was selfless in his approach to make this list, Aguero was utterly ruthless in front of goal in 2011/12, netting eight goals in his opening five games, which featured a hat-trick over Wigan and braces against Fulham and Swansea. If he kept that form up he would have netted exactly 60 goals that season.

Instead, Aguero felt bad for Premier League defenders and took his foot off the pedal (only slightly though). He ended the campaign on 23 goals having started so brightly, but let’s face it, he scored the most memorable goal in Premier League history that year. “Aguerooooo” will live long in the memory.

Son Heung-min (Tottenham)  

Season: 2020/21

Goals and assists after five games: Nine (seven goals, two assists)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: N/A

Current Football Index value: £2.74 (Sell)£2.89 (Buy)

Everyone is still trying to catch their breath from the start to this season. Where it will take us is anyone’s guess. But, if this current rate keeps up then we could be looking at some serious numbers come the end of the campaign.

For Son Heung-min, he has profited from Kane deciding to go full Kevin De Bruyne this year and simply has to make one diagonal run before finding himself through on goal. Can it be that easy? Well, yes as it turns out. Everyone has seemingly forgotten how to defend.

Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)

Season: 2011/12

Goals and assists after five games: 10 (nine goals, one assist)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 31 (27 goals, four assists)

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When Rooney was at the peak of his powers there were few greater sights in football. And in 2011/12 we bore witness to the very best ‘Wazza’ had to offer. Nine goals in his opening five matches included a hat-trick over Arsenal (and an assist) in that famous 8-2 victory at Old Trafford, as well as goals against Spurs and Chelsea. He really had it in for the capital.

Despite that quite formidable start, he then fired a blank in eight consecutive games and didn’t even finish the season with the Golden Boot, or any silverware. Not to mention Man Utd crashed out of the Champions League group stages, and lost the title on the last day as Aguero made history. Any more?

He did net a career best 27 goals for a single season though, so we can’t be too harsh on Rooney, while the Golden Boot went to Arsenal forward Robin van Persie, who would be his teammate at Old Trafford the following campaign.

Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Season: 2004/05

Goals and assists after five games: 11 (four goals, seven assist)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: 39 (25 goals, 14 assists)

Fresh from an Invincible season at Highbury, Henry continued that unprecedented Premier League form at the start of 2004/05, claiming assists in each of his first five games while also helping himself to four goals, including the first and last goals in a 5-3 spectacle over Middlesbrough.

Henry was consistent throughout the season, never scoring a ridiculous chunk in one game to play catch up from a dry spell; instead, scoring frequently and assisting abundantly almost week in, week out. The Frenchman finished on 25 goals in 32 appearances as Arsenal scooped the runners-up spot, though he did clinch his third of a record four Golden Boots.

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Season: 2020/21

Goals and assists after five games: 12 (five goals, seven assists)

Goals and assists at the end of the season: N/A

Current Football Index value: £6.08 (Sell)£6.13 (Buy)

Kane has already equalled his best return for assists in a single Premier League season and is scoring at a rate of a goal a game. He is simply on another level to any other forward at the minute, playing with the passing range of Andrea Pirlo and the scoring touch of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The first 16 minutes against West Ham last weekend were Kane in microcosm this season, and he is currently the most productive player in Europe’s top five leagues after five games. There is no question that if he can keep this up (alongside Son) then Jose Mourinho’s men will be a realistic threat for the title.

Wilt, and the same cracks will emerge. But, if Kane can help get the best out of Gareth Bale (his newfound passing range certainly makes for a mouthwatering prospect) then Spurs will be a serious player this season, both domestically and in Europe.