Football Features

Where Man City’s “Centurions” rank among the Premier League’s most prolific attacking quartets

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:16, 9 May 2020

The Premier League is all about excitement and intense football. To that end, great attacking sides are always the most popular.

Manchester City hold the record of most Premier League goals in a season, netting 106 goals in the 17/18 campaign, beating the previous record held by Chelsea (103).

What’s incredible about both of these sides is that their goal totals weren’t just driven by one key scorer, but rather a group of players.

Chelsea 2009/10 and Man City 2017/18 are two of just six Premier League sides to have seen four separate players score 10 or more goals in a season. Reaching double figures in terms of league goals is an impressive achievement, but out of those six quartets, who scored the most goals? Whose goals were the greatest percentage of their team’s overall efforts? We’ve got those answers below.

6. Chelsea 2010/11

Florent Malouda: 13 goals
Didier Drogba: 11 goals
Frank Lampard: 10 goals
Salomon Kalou: 10 goals

44 goals (64% of club total)

Chelsea came into the season as defending champions, but managerial turmoil around the middle of the campaign ruined their title defence before things could get serious. That didn’t stop the Blues from once again building around a quartet of main goalscorers.

Three of the 2009/10 gang were back; Didier Drogba was once again the titan at the top of the pitch with Frank Lampard running off him. Both men fell well off the intense pace they set in the previous season, but Florent Malouda stepped up to become the club’s main goalscorer. The Frenchman’s outside-to-in runs and impeccable sense of timing saw him bag an impressive 13 goals.

The other position saw Salomon Kalou continue his ascension to first-team regular, replacing Nicolas Anelka as the second-most potent forward as Chelsea’s switch to using a more orthodox wing-style meant Kalou was more suited to producing.

5. Manchester United 2018/19

Paul Pogba: 13 goals
Romelu Lukaku: 12 goals
Anthony Martial: 10 goals
Marcus Rashford: 10 goals

45 goals (69% of club total)

Despite their poor season under Jose Mourinho and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United remarkably ended the 2018/19 campaign with four players having scored 10 or more goals in the Premier League.

Amid concerns over his future, midfielder Paul Pogba led the way with 13 goals, eight of which came in Solksjaer’s first nine league games in charge.

He was joined by United’s attacking trio, starting with Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian was Mourinho’s first-choice forward but split his 12 goals equally between the two bosses that season.

Thanks, in part, to the heavy rotation of United’s front line, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also managed to chip in which 10 goals each, the former being Solskjaer’s choice to lead the front line. Meanwhile, Martial scored the majority of his 10 goals before Christmas, struggling for form after Mourinho’s departure.

4. Manchester United 1995/96

Eric Cantona: 14 goals
Andrew Cole: 11 goals
Ryan Giggs: 11 goals
Paul Scholes: 10 goals

46 goals (63% of club total)

Over 20 years ago, Manchester United were pioneers of the English game — playing the kind of free-flowing football that was well ahead of all their contemporaries that weren’t named Newcastle. After losing the title to Blackburn the previous season due to Eric Cantona’s nine-month ban, United knew they all had to step up to help replace the Frenchman.

And up stepped striker Andrew Cole, who bagged 11 over the season. Winger Ryan Giggs dazzled out wide but always found time to come into narrow areas and threaten on goal. Meanwhile, Paul Scholes took advantage of the extra space ahead of him to bomb forward and establish himself as a goalscoring forward.

Then when the main man returned from suspension, things really got crazy. Cantona was the do-it-all No.10 who ended up as the club’s top-scorer as they reclaimed the title in stupendous form with 73 goals scored, 46 coming from this quality quartet.

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3. Arsenal 2012/13

Theo Walcott: 14 goals
Santi Cazorla: 12 goals
Olivier Giroud: 11 goals
Lukas Podolski: 11 goals

48 goals (67% of club total)

Arsenal were emerging from perhaps their lowest ebb under Arsene Wenger in 2012/13. Wenger still hadn’t loosened the purse strings to sign world-class players, but he had added Montpellier’s Ligue 1-winning hero Olivier Giroud and German hitman Lukas Podolski. Those two formed an effective front three with Theo Walcott, who had a sensational season and finally looked like arriving as a player.

A third new signing completed the quartet: the ever-lovable Santi Cazorla arrived from Malaga in the summer and instantly looked to be a potent attacking midfielder, with his ambipedal ability and his set-piece skills. Of course, uniting all these pieces into one side is tricky, and the Gunners were disjointed and only ended up in fourth spot. But it laid the foundation for Arsenal to finally break their trophy drought in the next season.

2. Manchester City 2017/18

Sergio Aguero: 21 goals
Raheem Sterling: 18 goals
Gabriel Jesus: 13 goals
Leroy Sané: 10 goals

62 goals (58% of club total)

The 2017/18 champions were a marvellous miracle of a side that looked to break almost every record going. Sergio Aguero was the side’s chief striker and in the 17/18 campaign, unsurprisingly bagged 21 goals, with Gabriel Jesus sharing minutes up-front to notch 13. It’s possible those two would have scored even more goals had they not been injured as often as they were.

Leroy Sané was a flying creator on the left wing, but has still managed to chip in with 10 goals, most of them were spectacular. Raheem Sterling then was the real story, powering in a remarkable 18 goals — so many of them winners, equalisers and key goals. He played wide on the right but drifted into central zones as City stretched the field wide with their full-backs.

What’s interesting about City is that their signature is actually their creativity. Even when City broke the overall goals record, their quartet were unlikely to claim top spot on this list. In part, because their signature is creating goals: they are the first side in history to have a quartet of players to provide 10+ assists. Two of the top scorers appear in that list, which is remarkable.

1. Chelsea 2009/10

Didier Drogba: 29 goals
Frank Lampard: 22 goals
Florent Malouda: 12 goals
Nicolas Anelka: 11 goals

74 goals (72% of club total)

Chelsea’s 2009/10 season was incredible. They broke Manchester United’s title streak in half with a spectacular season of goalscoring. Chelsea set the then-goal record of 103, and a whopping 72% of those goals were bagged by their main quartet of scorers. Carlo Ancelotti’s diamond system unleashed Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard like never before.

Drogba was the main conduit for all Chelsea attacks and responded with an impressive 29 league goals. Close behind him was set-piece expert Lampard, who was in supreme form running behind Drogba to get on the end of goalscoring chances. After two seasons of underwhelming play, Florent Malouda finally arrived in the Premier League. Playing on the left of the diamond, Malouda’s movement, creativity and ability to finish chances made him a key cog in Chelsea’s system.

The final piece of the puzzle was Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman was coming off his most prolific season as a Chelsea striker and while Drogba’s ascendance diminished his impact, he was still a quality second striker, slamming home 11 times — a total which would have been higher were it not for injury robbing him of crucial minutes in the winter.