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Five highest scoring Premier League players who still couldn’t prevent their sides from being relegated

Surviving in the Premier League can often be determined by a team’s goal threat, with a regular source of goals vital for any side’s ability to keep themselves away from the dangers of the division’s drop zone.

Amongst last season’s relegated sides, the leading scorers for Cardiff and Huddersfield managed a meagre nine league goals between them, whilst even an impressive return for Aleksandr Mitrovic failed to keep Fulham up given their defensive capitulations.


The current campaign has seen Norwich’s Teemu Pukki lead the way amongst sides at the bottom with 11 goals so far, but history tells us even a prolific campaign may not always be enough.

Here are the five highest scoring players who still couldn’t prevent their sides being relegated:

Jermain Defoe – 15 (2016/17)

The eighth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, Defoe’s appearance on this list comes following a prolific two-year spell with Sunderland.

The former England international has scored regularly for a succession of clubs including two spells at Tottenham, but left the rigours of English football to sign for MLS side Toronto FC in 2014.

Sunderland – in desperate need of goals in their battle for survival – made a move to bring the veteran back to the Premier League just a year later, striking an exchange deal that saw flop Jozy Altidore head to Canada in the opposite direction.

Defoe proved he had lost none of his goalscoring instinct upon his arrival at the Stadium of Light, scoring 15 goals in his first full season to maintain Sunderland’s top-flight status by just two points.

Despite another 15-goal campaign the following year, however, Sunderland were relegated to the Championship after finishing bottom of the division.

Fabrizio Ravanelli – 16 (1996/97)

Times were rather different for an ambitious Middlesbrough and their supporters during the mid-nineties, the North East splashing the cash on a number of exciting foreign additions to raise optimism on Teeside.

Amongst the inclusions was the capture of Ravanelli, the Italian forward having formed part of the Juventus side crowned as Champions League winners the previous season.

‘Boro supporters were understandably excited and their hopes increased after a stunning debut from the marquee arrival, Ravanelli hitting a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-3 opening day draw with Liverpool.

Ravanelli continued to fire as Middlesbrough reached the final of both domestic cup competitions, however, Bryan Robson’s side struggled for form in the Premier League.

The club were docked three points for the cancellation of a fixture against Blackburn Rovers at short notice and the decision proved costly, Middlesbrough relegated after being overhauled by Coventry on the final day of the season.

Ravanelli finished the season with 31 goals in all competitions before leaving for Marseille, his goals unable to save a Middlesbrough side with the league’s worst defensive record.

Yakubu – 17 (2011/12)

“Feed the Yak and he will score” is how the popular terrace chant immortalised the burly Nigerian, a reliable goalscorer during spells at several clubs, scoring 95 goals in 252 appearances in English football’s top division.

Yakubu enjoyed impressive spells with the likes of Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Everton, but enjoyed the finest campaign of his Premier League club as the spearhead for a Blackburn side fighting for survival.

Only three players – Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero – managed to outscore Yakubu despite his presence in a struggling side, though his efforts were not enough to maintain Rovers’ safety as the club kept just three clean sheets all season.

It proved to be the forward’s final season in the Premier League has he departed for Chinese side Guangzhou R&F, later returning for brief spells in England’s lower divisions with Reading and Coventry.

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Charlie Austin – 18 (2014/15)

Austin rose from non-league to the bright lights of England’s top tier on the back of his goalscoring exploits, the former Poole Town star an old-fashioned centre-forward who thrives when given the right service.

The forward helped fire Queens Park Rangers to promotion via the play-offs the previous season before making an instant impression in his first campaign at the highest level, scoring 18 Premier League to finish as the fourth-highest scorer in the division despite his side’s struggles.

QPR struggled with the step up and spent the majority of the season in the relegation places before finishing bottom of the division, despite the best efforts of Austin who scored over 42% of their entire goals for the season.

Andrew Johnson – 21 (2004/05)

The most prolific goalscorer for a relegated team is former Crystal Palace favourite Andrew Johnson, the forward scoring 21 times for the Eagles during his first season at Premier League level.

Johnson’s tally was boosted by ten successfully converted penalties – many of them won himself – as he almost singlehandedly kept Palace in the top flight, the club relegated by just a single point after only managing to draw with Charlton on the final day of the season.

The season, however, was the best of Johnson’s career on an individual level as he made his England debut, finished as runner-up to Arsenal’s Thierry Henry for the Golden Boot and was named in the PFA Team of the Year, Johnson never again reaching the 20-goal landmark during later spells at the likes of Everton and Fulham.

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