As the old cliche goes, ‘if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win the raffle’, with a forward’s job to pepper the opposition goal with shots in the hope of hitting the back of the net.
Those attempts on goal, however, need accuracy, with it easy to separate the best from the rest by looking at their shot map.
Here’s a look at the five players to have registered the most shots on target in Premier League history:
Jermain Defoe – 342
A criminally underrated striker in the Premier League era, Jermain Defoe often does not get the credit he deserves despite ranking ninth amongst the division’s all-time leading scorers with an impressive tally of 162 league goals.
Often pigeon-holed as something of a ‘super-sub’ at times for both club and country, the current Rangers striker was a consistent goalscoring presence during his lengthy stint in English football, with his place on this list unsurprising given his ruthless selfishness in front of goal.
A product of the famed West Ham United youth system, Defoe initially made his mark on loan at Bournemouth. He netted 18 goals in just 29 games before a return to Upton Park, where he finished as the club’s top scorer the following season with 14 goals in all competitions.
The Hammers’ relegation in 2003 sparked the striker’s desire for an exit, although he was forced to wait until the following February to secure his move to Tottenham Hotspur. Defoe scored 64 goals and spent four seasons with Spurs, before linking up with Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth.
The Englishman returned to White Hart Lane after just a year at Fratton Park and quickly picked up where had left off, scoring 79 goals in just 186 games for the club in his second spell.
Following a brief stint in the MLS with Toronto, he returned to the Premier League with Sunderland in January 2015, netting 34 league goals in just two-and-a-half years for the relegation strugglers, before returning to Bournemouth in 2017. The 39-year-old has since spent the last two-and-a-half years in Glasgow, winning the league title last term.
Robin van Persie – 360
Robin van Persie ranks as arguably one of the finest finishers the Premier League has ever seen, the Dutchman possessing a devastating ball-striking ability that combined both power and precision in equal measure.
A UEFA Cup winner with Feyenoord, the youngster joined Arsenal in 2004 following the club’s remarkable ‘Invincible’ season, initially starting out as a winger before being transitioned into a centre-forward role.
While far from prolific in his early years in north London, van Persie made his presence felt with some stunning strikes, including a thunderous volley in a win over Charlton Athletic during the 2006/07 campaign.
The departure of Thierry Henry elevated his status as the club’s leading forward, although it wasn’t until the 2010/11 campaign that he truly began to fire more regularly, netting 18 league goals and 22 in all competitions despite missing much of the season through injury.
The following campaign saw Van Persie score a remarkable 30 top-flight goals to win the Golden Boot, earning the Dutchman a controversial switch to Manchester United.
His debut season saw him score 26 goals to inspire the Red Devils to the Premier League title, though the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson somewhat derailed his career with the club, departing for Fenerbahce after scoring 58 goals in 108 games.
Harry Kane – 415
The only player on this list still playing in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has been one of the division’s most consistent marksmen since bursting onto the scene during the 2014/15 season.
Prior to that, the forward had to bide his time on loan at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City – all with varying degrees of success – before truly being handed a crack at the first-team at Spurs under Tim Sherwood at the tail end of the 2013/14 season.
The arrival of Mauricio Pochettino that summer sparked a change in fortunes for both Kane and the club, the Englishman netting 21 league goals that season and earning his first senior international call-up in March 2015, netting off the bench on debut against Lithuania at Wembley.
In truth, the prolific forward hasn’t looked back since and has become the club’s undoubted talisman, having netted 228 goals in just 352 games for the club, including 167 in the Premier League to leave him seventh on the all-time list.
The Three Lions skipper enjoyed a particularly impressive 2020/21 campaign as he topped the charts for both goals (23) and assists (14), becoming just the third player to have achieved the feat.
Sergio Aguero – 423
Sergio Aguero departed Manchester City during the summer, the Argentine moving on after a trophy-laden decade-long spell at the Etihad.
The former Independiente forward had arrived in Manchester in the summer of 2011 after a prolific stint at Atletico Madrid, quickly setting the tone for what was to follow with a brilliant brace on debut against Swansea City.
He ended that first season with 23 league goals to his name, including that final-day strike against Queens Park Rangers which fired Roberto Mancini’s men to a first Premier League title at the expense of rivals Manchester United.
Aguero won four more league titles over the next ten years, as well as six League Cups and an FA Cup, while moving up to fourth on the Premier League all-time scorers list with 184 goals – just three behind Andy Cole in third.
That tally ensured his status as the highest-scoring foreign player in the competition’s history, while he is also a certified icon at City, the 33-year-old the club’s greatest ever marksman with 260 goals to his name in all competitions.
The current Barcelona forward also holds the record for the most Premier League hat-tricks (12) and is rightly recognised as one of the finest centre-forwards of the modern era.
Wayne Rooney – 467
Topping this list is England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney, the current Derby County boss having enjoyed a hugely successful 16-year Premier League career, after initially making his debut as a 16-year-old at Everton in 2002.
Despite his youth, the forward quickly emerged as the club’s leading light and took both the top-flight and the international stage by storm, possessing a fearlessness and aggression that belied his years and set him apart from any other young talent, before or since.
After netting 15 league goals in two seasons with the Toffees and playing a starring role at Euro 2004, the teenager made the switch to Manchester United and quickly settled in his new surroundings, bagging a hat-trick on debut in the Champions League.
Having joined amid something of a transitional period for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, it wasn’t until 2007 that Rooney claimed his first league title, the all-action forward forging a sensational partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo that would dominate both in Europe and England over the following seasons.
The Portuguese’s departure in 2009 put greater emphasis on the Englishman and he went on to be the club’s driving force, winning two more league titles under Ferguson before a tough spell following the latter’s retirement.
His time at Old Trafford came to an end in 2017 with Rooney the club’s highest scorer on 253 goals, before he called time on his career following a brief return to Everton, a stint in the MLS and a period in the Championship at Pride Park.
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