Top Goalscorer

What does the Premier League golden boot look like without penalties?

Not all players are fortunate enough to hit penalty kicks - isn't it time we levelled the playing field?

5:00pm on Monday 3rd August 2020
Paul Macdonald

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.

Immobile's 14 penalties in his 36-goal haul moved him ahead of Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, just the second player who isn't Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo since 2009 to clinch the coveted prize.

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

Danny Ings22121
PE Aubameyang22220
Raheem Sterling20020
Jamie Vardy23419
Sadio Mane18018

- 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

Sadio Mane22022
Mo Salah22319
Sergio Aguero21219
PE Aubameyang22418
Raheem Sterling17017

- 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

Mo Salah32131
Harry Kane30228
Raheem Sterling18117
Sergio Aguero21417
Romelu Lukaku16016

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

PlayerGoalsPensNon-PensPen weighting
Danny Ings2212121.5
Jamie Vardy2341921
PE Aubameyang2222021
Raheem Sterling2002020
Sadio Mane1801818

- Even with the penalty weighting, Danny Ings emerges as best again this season.

2018/19 0.5 pen weighting

PlayerGoalsPensNon-PensPen weighting
Sadio Mane2202222
Mo Salah2231920.5
Sergio Aguero2121920
PE Aubameyang2241820
Raheem Sterling1701717

- Even adding back in the weighting for penalties, Mane's total is still top.

2017/18 0.5 pen weighting

PlayerGoalsPensNon-PensPen weighting
Mo Salah3213131.5
Harry Kane3022829
Sergio Aguero2141719
Raheem Sterling1811717.5
Jamie Vardy2051517.5

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

PlayerGoalsPensNon-PensNPG P90
Raheem Sterling200200.68
Danny Ings221210.67
Sadio Mane180180.59
Anthony Martial170170.58
PE Aubameyang222200.57

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

PlayerGoalsPensNon-PensNPG P90
Sergio Aguero212190.69
Sadio Mane220220.64
PE Aubameyang224180.59
Raheem Sterling170170.55
Mo Salah223190.52

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

PlayerGoalsPensNon-PensNPG P90
Mo Salah321310.96
Harry Kane302280.82
Sergio Aguero214170.78
Raheem Sterling170170.55
Mo Salah223190.52

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.

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