The 10 top-scoring subs in PL history: Giroud, Sturridge, Hernandez & more

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Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United favourites are among the top 10 goalscoring substitutes in Premier League history – but none top the list.

There is something hard to fathom about goalscoring substitutes. After all, if a player keeps on scoring after coming off the bench, why not play him from the start?

Some of the players on this list were indeed starters most of the time, but though they may not agree themselves, there is also a unique band of strikers who for whatever reason seem to be more effective when introduced later on…

10. Darren Bent – 13 goals, 107.9 mins-per-goal

“My missus could have scored that one.”

Darren Bent’s Premier League career will always be overshadowed by Harry Reknapp’s infamous quip after the striker missed a sitter for Tottenham, but he was consistently a reliable goalscorer in England’s top flight.

The former England international failed to truly establish himself at Spurs amid competition from the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko, yet he still finished as the club’s top scorer in 2008-09.

9. Edin Dzeko – 13 goals, 89.1 mins-per-goal

A common theme among this list is that many of these players were underrated and written off as ‘merely goalscorers’ as if that’s such a bad thing.

Dzeko was once described as “rubbish at football but brilliant at goal scoring” by Manchester City superfan Noel Gallagher – and the Bosnian will always be cherished for coming off the bench to really take the biscuit with two late goals in City’s 6-1 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

8. Victor Anichebe – 14 goals, 147.4 mins-per-goal

The surprise name on this list. Anichebe has only scored 27 Premier League goals as his career, with more than half of those coming after entering the fray as a substitute.

Anichebe has now joined Chinese second division outfit Beijing Enterprises – we’ve literally only just found out as well; also, why do they sound like an insurance firm? – where he will hope to be more prolific as a starter.

7. Peter Crouch – 15 goals, 175.9 min-per-goal

The new name to the list, Crouch’s minute-to-goal ratio as a substitute isn’t great since he’s only recently bucked his ideas up when coming on from the bench – mainly because nobody who was starting for Stoke had in the first place.

Still though, the best thing he’s ever done is celebrating his England hat-trick against Jamaica with the robot – and leaving Joe Cole hanging for the most awkward non-high-five ever.


6. Daniel Sturridge – 15 goals, 107.1 min-per-goal

After never really establishing himself in the starting XIs of Manchester City or Chelsea, Sturridge’s all-too brief spell as one of Liverpool’s main men is over and he has found himself contemplating life on the bench once more.

With Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho the preferred attack of Jurgen Klopp – plus Mohamed Salah now among the Reds’ ranks – Sturridge’s future is once again in doubt, though there is no question about his talent.

5. Javier Hernandez – 15 goals, 85.2 mins-per-goal

The heir to Solskjaer’s throne at Old Trafford, Hernandez joined Manchester United three years after the original super sub had retired and relished in the role before doing exactly the same at Real Madrid.

In fairness to Mexico’s top scorer of all time, his two years at Bayer Leverkusen produced a record better than a goal every other game, proving that he can be just as effective leading the line from the start.

4. Nwankwo Kanu – 17 goals, 159.1 mins-per-goal

One of the Premier League’s ultimate cult heroes, you can excuse Kanu for having to settle for life on the bench given he had Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, two of the greatest strikers in the history of the game, ahead of him in the Arsenal pecking order.

But what a player.

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READ: A salute to Kanu, mercurial genius and ultimate Arsenal cult hero

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3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – 17 goals, 92.9 mins-per-goal

The definitive super sub and hero of Manchester United’s Champions League triumph in 1999, both Solskjaer’s first and final appearances for the club saw him come off the bench to put the ball in the back of the net.

We can’t do the Baby-Faced Assassin justice in this short paragraph. Thankfully Steven Chicken has here.

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READ: A tribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd’s great bargain and Mr Reliable

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2. Olivier Giroud – 17 goals, 74.4 mins-per-goal

Giroud is relatively new to the role of super sub but has taken to it like a duck to water, albeit a duck who got fed up and flew away to Chelsea.

With Arsene Wenger opting for Alexis Sanchez to lead the line for Arsenal last term, 18 of Giroud’s 29 Premier League appearances came from the bench, scoring five times, while just one of his 16 appearances in this campaign came from the start.

His overall record as a substitute, particularly his minutes-per-goal record, is as magnificent as his wonderful, French face.

1. Jermain Defoe – 23 goals, 127.3 mins-per-goal

Defoe possibly doesn’t get the credit he deserves as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever goalscorers, partly because until recent years he hasn’t always been his club’s main man.

Whether it be at West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland or now Bournemouth, Defoe has always been relied upon to grab goals, and he has rarely failed to live up to the billing.

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