Not all forwards are lucky enough to hit penalty kicks.
The argument on whether penalties should be included in top goalscorer awards has been intensified with the number of pens both Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored in their pursuit for not only the capocannoniere in Serie A, but also the European Golden shoe.
In the Premier League, four of Vardy's golden boot-winning 23 strikes were from the spot. But is having a free shot at goal an unfair advantage? What if two forward from the same team are competing but one hits penalties and the other doesn't? Let's try and right some wrongs using various methods.
Having a look at the Premier League over the last three seasons, let's assess how much penalties played a role in securing the golden boot for a certain player.
We'll look at which players would have won the award if:
1. Penalties are removed: Take any penalty goals out of the total.
2. Penalties given a weighting: We keep penalties in but we bring them down to a 0.5 weighting.
3. Non-Pen Goal P90: We utilise non-penalty goals per 90 minutes played, with a minimum of 1,000 Premier League minutes.
Premier League w/o penalties
2019/20 Top scorers no pens
- Removing penalties, Danny Ings would be the golden boot for the 19/20 season, with 21 non-penalty strikes
2018/19 Top scorers no pens
- Removing penalties, Sadio Mane was the true winner in the 18/19 season, clear of Aubameyang and Salah on the non-penalty stakes.
2017/18 Top scorers no pens
Removing penalties from the equation throws up some Interesting points to note. Firstly that Salah's season in 17/18 is absolutely spectacular even without penalties, as was Harry Kane's, whose 28 non-penalty goals would have been good enough to easily win the award in 18/19 and 19/20.
Last season, all 22 of Sadio Mane's goals were non-penalty, an impressive haul which should have seen him given the award due to Salah and Auba's penalty additions.
And this season Danny Ings' superb season cannot be understated. He virtually single-handedly dragged Southampton from a poor first half of the season into one of the most in-form teams post-lockdown.
Premier League w/ 0.5 penalty weightings
2019/20 0.5 pen weighting
- Even with the penalty weighting, Danny Ings emerges as best again this season.
2018/19 0.5 pen weighting
- Even adding back in the weighting for penalties, Mane's total is still top.
2017/18 0.5 pen weighting
If we assume that penalties are given a 0.5 rating instead of 1, we can still reward players for scoring penalties but not rank them the same as an open-play goal. In this scenario, not much changes in the order from leaving out penalties altogether; Ings, Mane and Salah retain their positions on top.
Premier League w/ NPG P90
If we look at NPG P90, we have to put some rules in place or else the list loses credibility. We have used the top scorers in terms of goals for the foundation of the list, otherwise Mason Greenwood, Tammy Abraham and Gabriel Jesus are included.
We have chosen to base the list on the highest 10 scorers, then rank them by the non-penalty goal P90 rate.
2019/20 Premier League NPG P90
Raheem Sterling just edges out Danny Ings in NPG P90, his 0.68 rate just slightly better. If we were to look further down the list, Sergio Aguero is 11th on 16 goals, and in fact his P90 rate of 0.87 is far superior to the rest of the players in the league.
2018/19 Premier League NPG P90
Sergio Aguero made the most of his minutes in 18/19. He is economical with his time on the pitch, as he was this season, too.
2017/18 Premier League NPG P90
Mo Salah remains miles clear in 17/18 and it's further recognition of one of the greatest individual seasons in recent Premier League memory.
It's probably not worthwhile removing penalties from the equation. They are still goals that decided games and won points. But it does give a broader look at the most prolific forwards in the league who aren't given free hits at goal.
Raheem Sterling's inclusion in the top five in each of the last three seasons under each metric is Interesting and marks him as the most consistent non-penalty scorer of late.
It's been a more low-key season in terms of goalscoring exploits in 2019/20, with the numbers across all metrics not getting close to Salah and Kane's efforts in 17/18.