Jamie Vardy scored his 109th Premier League goal in Leicester’s 1-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday night. That clinical diving header moved him level in the all-time list with Ryan Giggs, who while not a striker had the benefit of playing in 21 Premier League seasons.
Vardy has already passed the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (84), Dennis Bergkamp (87), Ruud van Nistelrooy (95) and Didier Drogba (104). Sadio Mane, who first arrived in the Premier League at the same time in 2014, is trailing in his wake on 88.
Vardy’s back story has been well told at this point, not playing in the Football League until he joined Leicester at 25, and eventually making his top flight debut at 27 in 2014.
He struggled in that maiden Premier League campaign, as did Leicester as a whole. He netted his very first top flight goal against Manchester United in a famous 5-3 win, a game in which he actually had a role in all five goals thanks to his four assists.
But it was another six months before he got his next Premier League goal. However, three more that followed in the final weeks of the 2014/15 season helped keep Leicester up and it is as though both he and they have never looked back since.
When Vardy scored 24 times during the 2015/16 campaign, he also set a new record for goals in consecutive games – previously held by the aforementioned Van Nistelrooy. Leicester went on to complete the most fairytale of Premier League title triumphs.
But it was no flash in the pan. Vardy has kept scoring. His 109 goals have come in 216 appearances, giving him a better games per goal average than Wayne Rooney, Andrew Cole and Robbie Fowler.
What’s more, the 33-year-old, who won last season’s Premier League Golden Boot, has disproportionately overscored against the top clubs, proving he is by no means a stat-padding bully of the division’s smaller teams – an accusation often levelled at top strikers.
Vardy’s goal against Arsenal at the weekend was his 11th in the Premier League against the Gunners. He has scored eight against Manchester City and seven against Liverpool, netting more often against those three clubs than any other he has faced.
Goals against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool alone account for as much as 24% of all his Premier League goals. Overall, Vardy has scored 38 times in the competition against he so-called ‘Big Six’, with five more against Tottenham, four against Manchester United and three against Chelsea.
It means that Vardy has scored 35% of his top flight goals against ‘Big Six’ teams. His strike rate in just those fixtures against the best is 0.57 goals per game, compared to 0.48 against everyone else.
It says plenty about him as a player that he finds the nest most frequently against the best opponents, underlined earlier this season when he scored a hat-trick against Manchester City.
As a Premier League player, the only clubs Vardy hasn’t scored against at least once are Wolves, Hull, Cardiff and Middlesbrough, three of whom are not currently in the top flight.
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