EPL Statistical Analysis: Who Is the Best Goal-Scoring Substitute in the EPL?

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 31, 2013

Reading stunned European champions Chelsea to record two goals in the final five minutes of play—giving them a shock 2-2 draw against the visitors.

Goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard had seemingly put the Blues in charge heading into the final minutes of play, but the relegation-threatened Royals struck two huge blows late to pick up a point from the fixture and heap pressure back on to Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez.

And once again, it was Adam Le Fondre for the Royals.

The 26-year-old who cost Reading next to nothing was once again, chipping in with another match-winning performance off the substitutes bench.

Questions will likely start to come now as to whether or not Brian McDermott should be starting Le Fondre given his proven record and keen eye for goal, but nevertheless, it was another sensational performance from the English striker.

Few players can have the same impact off the bench as Le Fondre has had this season for the Royals, with the super-sub definitely one of the best.

But is he the best goal-scoring substitute in the English Premier League?

How does the 26-year-old fare against the likes of Edin Dzeko and Javier Hernandez as goal-scoring poachers who come off the bench and into the goals?

Using data from statistics website WhoScored.com, the numbers are in and shown in the tables below as to who the biggest impact sub is in the EPL.

  App. Mins. Goal. MPG.
Adam Le Fondre (REA) 22 969 10 96.9 
Edin Dzeko (MC) 21 1,010 10 101.0 
Javier Hernandez (MU) 13 596  8 74.5 
Mladen Petric (FUL) 15 662  5 132.5 
Olivier Giroud (ARS) 23 1,428 9 158.7
Romelu Lukaku (WBA) 22 1,120  9 124.4 
Sergio Aguero (MC) 20 1,411  8 176.4 
Shane Long (WBA) 21 1,254  6 209.0 
Theo Walcott (ARS) 20 1,312 11 119.3 


Key: App (Total appearances), Mins (Total minutes played), Goal (Total goals), GPM (Average minutes per goal)


Looking at that table on it's own, the numbers would suggest that Le Fondre is one of the best substitutes in the league in terms of minutes played to goals scored. Only Manchester United's Javier Hernandez has a better strikerate than that of the Reading man (minimum five goals), with both chalking up a strikerate of less than 100 minutes per goal.

But how many of those total appearances were substitutions, and how many of those substitution appearances actually produced goals? After all, appearing as a substitute and scoring goals can be two different categories if they did not take place at the same time.

The table below offers some further insight into that. 

  App. Mins. Goal. MPG. GTG GWG
Le Fondre 14 258 6 43.0
Dzeko 12 201 4 50.5
Hernandez 168 4 42.0  -
Petric 111 2 55.5  -  - 
Giroud 184 2 92.0  -   - 
Lukaku 12 278 2 139.0  -  -
Aguero 5 112 1 112.0  -   - 
Long 6 144 1 144.0  -  -
Walcott  164 2 82.0  -   - 


Key (as a substitute): App (Appearances), Mins (Minutes), Goal (Goals), MPG (Minutes per goal), GTG (game-tying goals), GMG (game winning goals)


From this table and data we can see that Le Fondre has become one of the most effective goal-scorers coming off the bench this season.

He is probably tied with both Dzeko and Hernandez in this regard, with the City man netting more game-winning goals and Hernandez at a slightly better minutes-per-goal ratio, but the Reading striker has scored more goals than both of them.

He has more game-tying goals than both of them put together and also has a game-winner to his name—recently against Newcastle United.

There is an argument also to be made that Le Fondre has a greater significance than both players mentioned there, with both City and United featuring a number of other strikers in their squads, who are more likely to score goals.

The Royals, however, do not have the same depth in attack as either team and thus rely on Le Fondre's significance more than the Manchester clubs. But can he be claimed as the top substitute goal-scorer in the game?

Well, that one seems like it's pretty much up for debate.

Both Hernandez and Dzeko have legitimate claims for that honor also; it's all in how you interpret the statistics presented for the season thus far.

Either way, it's been an incredible year from the 26-year-old to date.

A season that Reading will hope continues and a season that Le Fondre hopes will turn into a starting position—sooner rather than later.


Is Adam Le Fondre the best substitute goal scorer in the EPL?

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