Elite strikers

What does new signing Christian Benteke need to join the top frontmen in Liverpool FC's history?

"I know Liverpool is a big story. They’ve won league titles and the Champions League five times..." Christian Benteke.

 Graphic by Arnie

A warm welcome to Christian Benteke. All Liverpool fans hope that Christian will join the elite group of Liverpool strikers who have scored 20 or more league goals in a season. Liverpool have been blessed with some great goalscorers, but it is a big challenge to join the elite strikers.

The Challenge Ahead

A Liverpool striker has scored 20+ league goals in 20 of the 53 seasons between 1962-63 and 2014-15 - see the summary chart below.

Click to enlarge

The analysis starts in 1962 when Bill Shankly returned Liverpool to the top flight of English football. The chart highlights the 13 title winning seasons since 1962. Nearly 70% of the title winning teams included a striker that scored 20+ goals.

There have been only two seasons in which two strikers have scored more than 20 league goals: 1963-64 and 2013-14. Remarkably only 11 strikers have scored 20+ goals in the 53 seasons since 1962. 

The Elite Strikers

Roger Hunt tops the list with 20+ goals in five different seasons and Ian Rush is just behind him. A remarkable achievement by the top two! A special mention to one Michael Owen who just missed out on the elite strikers' list. Owen scored 19 goals twice and 18 goals twice.

The Optimum Age

Before Liverpool signed Benteke there was a lot of discussion about the ideal age to buy a proven quality striker. The average age of this elite group is 25.6. The youngest  striker is Robbie Fowler who scored 25 goals in 1994-95 when he was only 19 years old. Robbie is the only player in Liverpool's history to score 20+ league goals when under 20. The oldest striker is John Aldridge who scored 21 goals in 1988-89 when he was 30.

Christian Benteke will turn 25 in December and is just entering the age range that contains the highest number of elite strikers.

The Importance of the coach

Brendan Rodgers has already shown that he can build a team that supports a striker who is able to score more than 20 league goals in a season: Luis Suarez achieved this feat in 2012-13 and 2013-14. In 2013-14 Luis and Daniel Sturridge achieved what has only been done once before in modern times - they both scored over 20 goals; just as Roger Hunt and Ian St John did in 1963-64.

Good luck to Benteke. Be inspired by Liverpool's 'big story' and join the elite strikers.


Thanks to the excellent for providing the raw data. And thanks to the python community for providing the data analysis tools.

Copyright - Terry Dolan - Originally published here.

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