Giroud, Chicharito, Solskjaer & the best super-subs in Premier League history
A substitute’s job is to impact a game late on. Here are the guys who have scored the most goals when coming off the bench
#22 Teddy Sheringham | 10 goals For the majority of his career, Teddy Sheringham was a starter for the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United. However, as the sun began to set on his career and he began to show his age, he was no longer seen as a starter and began to play more off the bench. Sheringham relished this role, scoring 10 Premier League goals as a substitute, although his most famous goal off the bench came in the 1999 Champions League final.
#21 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink | 10 goals One of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink also enjoyed a goal or two off the bench. It was rare for Hasselbaink to not be starting games but when he came on he made sure to prove to his managers it was a mistake to not start him. He scored a hat-trick against Wolves in a 5-2 win in 2004 after coming on as a substitute for Chelsea.
#20 Julian Joachim | 10 goals A name not too many Premier League fans will remember, Julian Joachim scored almost a quarter of his top-flight goals when coming on as a sub. Joachim played for both Leicester and Aston Villa in the top flight, and he scored the Foxes’ first ever Premier League goal in a 3-1 loss to Newcastle on the opening day of the 1994/95 season.
#19 Louis Saha | 10 goals Louis Saha could have been a Premier League legend had he been luckier with injuries and timing. Saha was a top-quality striker at Fulham, scoring 13 in 21 in one Premier League campaign and it wasn’t long until the big clubs came calling with Manchester United snapping him up in January 2004 and he scored seven in 12 to take his tally up to 20 for the season. Unfortunately for Saha, he quickly became third-choice striker at United after the arrival of Wayne Rooney and being unable to displace Ruud van Nistelrooy. Saha was largely limited to substitute appearances but he made them count, scoring 10 goals from the bench in his Premier League career.
#18 Dwight Yorke | 10 goals During the late 90s, Manchester United had four top-class strikers they were able to rotate and that quartet all appear on this list. Yorke had to share game time with; Andy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham so substitute appearances were frequent. He scored 10 goals off the bench throughout his Premier League career.
#17 Didier Drogba | 11 goals A player who could always get a goal when it mattered but not a player you would associate with being a super-sub. Perhaps surprisingly, of Didier Drogba’s 254 Premier League appearances, 67 of them were off the bench. Drogba was known as a scorer of important goals, with 33 winners in the Premier League and scoring in 10 cup finals in his career.
#16 Carlton Cole | 11 goals Arguably the best striker Chelsea have produced through their own ranks in the past 15 years, Carlton Cole scored a quarter of his Premier League goals when coming on as a sub, with 11 off the bench for West Ham and the Blues. Cole also won seven England caps in his career, but it appears unlikely that he will get an opportunity to add to his Premier League super-sub tally.
#15 Salomon Kalou | 11 goals Salomon Kalou was never first choice at Chelsea, be it on the wing or as a striker. He scored 36 goals in 156 Premier League games for Chelsea, with 11 of those strikes coming off the bench. With 63 of his appearances coming as a sub, it is no surprise that almost a third of his goals came in those appearances.
#14 Michael Owen | 13 goals After leaving Liverpool, over 42% of Michael Owen’s Premier League appearances were off the bench. Owen peaked early in his career and, after leaving Liverpool, he would only hit double figures in the Premier League once. During the latter days of his career, Owen was better utilised as a substitute and his most famous goal off the bench came in the 96th minute of a Manchester derby as he put United 4-3 up with the last kick of the game.
#13 Tore Andre Flo | 13 goals Nicknamed ‘Flonaldo’ Tore Andre Flo was exactly the type of player you would want to bring on as a sub. Flo was a perfect plan B for Chelsea as he contrasted Gianfranco Zola so well, standing at a towering 6ft 4ins, compared to the diminutive Italian. Flo enjoyed his role as a bit-part player, saying: “In tight games, the rest of the players were quite tired, and it could be an advantage to come on fresh and chase that goal.”
#12 Darren Bent | 13 goals Darren Bent scored 106 Premier League goals for six different clubs during his top-flight career. Bent grabbed 13 goals off the bench, the most memorable of which being an injury-time equaliser for Fulham against Manchester United in a 2-2 draw which famously saw United deliver 81 crosses. Bent was a brilliant striker during his time at Sunderland and Aston Villa, and hit 24 goals in the 2009-10 campaign.
#11 Edin Dzeko | 13 goals Edin Dzeko may be the most under-appreciated Premier League striker of all time. Hitting 50 goals in 130 games for Manchester City, Dzeko was a key player in the club’s first two Premier League title wins. Dzeko’s best moment off the bench was when he scored City’s second goal against QPR, which would prove to be the second most important goal scored in the club’s history before Sergio Aguero’s dramatic winner clinched the title. Dzeko was confined to the bench for most of his City career behind the likes of Carlos Tevez and Aguero. In the 2012/13 season, five of his first six goals came via appearances off the bench.
#10 Robbie Keane | 13 goals During the noughties, Tottenham had an abundance of strikers on their books who Robbie Keane had to compete with. The likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent and Peter Crouch all being at the same club meant that managers had a massive selection headache. Keane made 36 appearances off the bench for Spurs. In his most prolific season at the club he scored 16 league goals whilst only starting 25 of the 36 matches he appeared in.
#9 Victor Anichebe | 13 goals Victor Anichebe has only scored 27 Premier League goals in his career so to see him on this list is a surprise. At 29, he still has time to add more to his name, with the Nigerian having made 52% of his Premier League appearances as a substitute. During that time he became Everton’s most used substitute of all time, breaking a record previously held by Duncan Ferguson.
#8 Andy Cole | 13 goals Cole faced a similar dilemma to Yorke and Sheringham during his time at Manchester United in that Sir Alex Ferguson was spoilt for choice up front when it came to choosing his starting XI. Cole is the Premier League’s third all-time top scorer, bagging 187 goals for seven different Premier League sides. He came on as a sub 85 times in his career, meaning he has one of the best minutes-per-goal ratios in the Premier League.
#7 Daniel Sturridge | 15 goals Daniel Sturridge boasts an impressive goals-to-games ratio for Liverpool but injuries have stopped him from going down in history as one of the greatest Premier League strikers. It only took Sturridge one more game than Mo Salah to hit 30 goals for Liverpool, which demonstrates how dangerous he could have been if he could have stayed fit on a regular basis. Due to his ongoing fitness struggles, Sturridge has had limited starts in the Premier League after being used as a substitute on 78 occasions and he is currently on loan at West Brom.
#6 Peter Crouch | 16 goals The perfect plan B for obvious reasons, Peter Crouch has scored 16 times off the bench in the Premier League. The giant striker being thrown on late in the game to win aerial battles against tired defenders is a tactic that still works today, with Crouch scoring off the bench recently against West Ham. Crouch has made more substitute appearances than anybody in Premier League history so it should come as no surprise that he ranks high on this list.
#5 Javier Hernandez | 16 goals More than half of Chicharito’s appearances for Manchester United came from the bench and scoring 16 times for the Red Devils made a name for himself as a super-sub. In 2013, he averaged 0.95 goals per 90 minutes as he was limited to cameo roles off the bench for United. He is a great sub because he possesses incredible pace and positional awareness, allowing him to get into goalscoring positions against tired defences.
#4 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | 17 goals The man who the term super-sub was coined for, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored 17 goals from 84 substitute appearances at Manchester United. Solskjaer scored four goals as a sub against Nottingham Forest in 1999 – a record number in the Premier League. His finest hour as a sub came later that year, however, scoring the winner in the Champions League final with the last kick of the game as United beat Bayern Munich 2-1.
#3 Nwankwo Kanu | 17 goals Kanu played second fiddle to Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp during his time at Arsenal but he still managed to score 12 goals in the 1999-00 season, coming on as a sub nine times. Kanu started 155 times in the top flight while coming on as a sub 118 times during stints at Arsenal, West Brom and Portsmouth.
#2 Olivier Giroud | 19 goals Olivier Giroud had been Arsenal’s super-sub for the past two seasons, making 33 of his last 45 appearances from the bench for the Gunners. He continued his great form off the bench for his new club Chelsea by making headlines last week when scoring twice off the bench against Southampton as the Blues overturned a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 late on. Giroud has scored six goals this season alone off the bench and, at 31 years old, he could one day top this list.
#1 Jermain Defoe | 24 goals Jermain Defoe spent a lot of his career not being first-choice striker at Tottenham. During the aforementioned era of great Spurs strikers, Defoe was rarely first choice. Early in his career Defoe was used as a sub at West Ham United, scoring 10 goals in his debut season whilst making 21 substitute appearances. Defoe’s finishing ability is what makes him a perfect sub as he can strike from long range as well as being able to find space in the box. His best sub appearance, though, may have been for England against the Netherlands 2009 when he came off the bench to strike twice and rescue a draw for the Three Lions.