Who are the most important goal scorers in the Premier League?

Southampton, Chelsea, Manchester United, Swansea City and Liverpool players are included on the list, which looks at the players who have regularly scored their side’s first goal in matches.

Clearly all goals are not as important as each other, with those players who consistently find the net to win their sides points always going to be reckoned as more valuable as the show ponies that add a fourth or a fifth goal to a convincing win. It's also fair to say that players in bigger teams have a greater chance or racking up 15 or 20 in a season, as they play in dominant attacking sides.

Looking at who scores the most important goals for their teams is therefore a subjective issue, with how you value different goals impacting on who you rate as the most important.

There is one kind of goal though which is surely held in high esteem by most, and that is the first goal for your side in any given match. Occasionally these will be late consolations with little meaning, but most of the time, the first goal a team scores has a heavy bearing on a game.

If you look at the players who score the first goals for their team most regularly, you get a clearer idea of how important they are to their side, as it doesn't matter how good the team you play for is, the guy who generally opens the scoring is a key man.

In the Premier League this season, two men have stood out as already having notched the opener for their sides on ten occasions. Demba Ba has only done so once so far for Chelsea, but scored first on nine occasions for Newcastle, with ten of his fourteen goals this season being the first in a match. Rickie Lambert is the other player who has ten first goals out of only eleven scored overall.

The usual suspects then get involved, with Robin van Persie opening the scoring nine times for Manchester United, and Luis Suarez and Michu doing so eight times each.

After them the exploits of Christian Benteke deserve a mention, as the Belgian has scored first for Aston Villa seven times, becoming a crucial player in his debut season at the club.

At the other end of the spectrum are the players who rarely open the scoring for their side. They can still be scoring important goals - winners for example - but they also have a habit of generally finding the net once their team already has a lead.

Interestingly a lot of Arsenal players feature at this end, with only three of Theo Walcott's goals being the first, and two of Santi Cazorla's nine. This could be an indication that Arsenal do not have a reliable front man to grab the first goal in a tight match, but have plenty of players able to cash in when their side are on top.

image: © little-pete

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