Tottenham striker Harry Kane

Hot streaks and dry spells

Harry Kane is well known for starting seasons poorly and finishing them in fine goalscoring form, but how do his hot streaks and dry spells compare to other strikers? We have looked at all current players in England’s top four divisions, who score at a rate of 10 or more goals per season, to see which of them tend to go on scoring sprees and which of them can go for months without scoring at all.

Premier League

Many fans will remember when Jamie Vardy netted at Old Trafford to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games, but the striker’s aptitude for scoring in successive games was not just confined to Leicester’s title-winning season. The Foxes forward is the only player in England’s top four leagues who manages to follow up a goalscoring appearance with a goal in his next match more than 50 per cent of the time.

A less coveted record is for most consecutive appearances without a goal. Kenny Cunningham went a whole 335-match Premier League career without a goal – but they weren’t expected of him! Amongst current Premier League goalscorers, Eden Hazard has experienced the worst run, once going 29 appearances without a goal (the first 19 of those being when Jose Mourinho was Chelsea manager). Blues team-mate Alvaro Morata is one of only five regular scorers with a worse record of netting in consecutive matches, following up a goalscoring appearance with another less than one in five times.

Another way to define good goalscoring form is by total number of goals over an extended period of appearances. We have defined a hot streak as four goals in five matches and looked at what per cent of the time Premier League strikers spend in a hot streak. Kane has spent 49.7% of his career on a hot streak, which means that at the end of any match he is as likely as not to have scored at least four goals in his previous five matches.

Raheem Sterling’s long wait for an England goal has been well publicised, but he is no stranger to dry spells in his club career. We have defined a dry spell as no goals in four games, and Sterling has spent almost a third of his Premier League career in a dry spell. The only regular scorer who has spent longer in dry spells is Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, who is one match away from equalling his personal worst of 14 appearances without a goal.

Football League

Looking at the EFL, Jordan Rhodes once managed something that even Kane couldn’t, with a staggering 12 goals in five appearances for Huddersfield back in 2012. Rhodes is currently experiencing a dry spell for Norwich, but once he nets the floodgates could open – the Oldham-born striker has a good record for scoring in consecutive matches and going on hot streaks throughout his career.

Some players are streaky in both senses, experiencing more than their fair share of hot streaks and dry spells (with less time spent somewhere in between.) Lincoln’s summer signing John Akinde is the perfect example of such a player – he leads League Two for time spent on a hot streak, but is also second in the chart for dry spells. To help us illustrate the point, the Londoner has started the season in true Akinde style, with a short lived hot streak, followed by six matches without a goal.

Top managers

It is not just players who can experience good and bad runs of form – Mourinho has received widespread criticism for Manchester United’s poor start to the season, but how does his record in the league compare to the other current managers of the Premier League’s ‘big 6’ since the start of his tenure at Old Trafford? Classing a dry spell as no win in three matches and a hot streak as three wins out of three, Mourinho has experienced more dry spells than any of his rivals, and only Jurgen Klopp has experienced fewer hot streaks.

The Portuguese manager is also trailing behind in more traditional stats. He is the only one of the six managers with less than two points per game over the same period, and the only one whose record gets worse against promoted clubs. Klopp, Maurizio Sarri, Mauricio Pochettino, Unai Emery and Pep Guardiola’s teams have all scored more than two goals per match in the league since the start of 2015/16, but Mourinho’s United have only managed 1.61 goals per match.

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