Did Charlie Austin and Danny Ings deserve an England call-up?

The England national team are set to take on Lithuania in a Euro 2016 qualifying match at Wembley on Friday night in a game where manager Roy Hodgson will be expecting his side to cruise to victory.

The Three Lions will then travel to Turin to take on Italy on Tuesday, March 31, where Hodgson could rotate a few players and trial any new ideas.

The England boss always faces a tough decision when it comes to team selection and he has undoubtedly left a few players disappointed at not being selected despite their valiant efforts this season.

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In terms of attacking options, here are the four strikers Hodgson has selected: Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck.

The most notable attacking players to miss out are Charlie Austin, Danny Ings and Saido Berahino as all of them have had excellent season’s.

Danny Ings has been selected for under-21 action, as was Saido Berahino but the West Brom forward has since been removed after he suffered a foot injury at Manchester City on Saturday, so he will be unable to play anyway.

But how do the selected strikers compare statistically to those left out?

England strikers

English strikers in the 2014/15 Premier League season (stats via Squawka)

There is no doubting that Harry Kane is worth his selection as both his performances and statistics this season are second-to-none having scored more goals and contributed more goals-per-game than any other player.

Wayne Rooney is the country’s captain and therefore automatically fills a spot – that’s not to say that he isn’t worth his place as the Manchester United man has still contributed an impressive amount considering he’s been deployed in midfield for large periods of this season.

The man who will be most disappointed is QPR‘s Charlie Austin. The 25-year-old has contributed more goals than any other player besides Harry Kane, and has also got the best shooting accuracy out of anyone.

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With 15 goals in the Premier League this season at a club that looks set to be relegated, it’s an impressive achievement and he may have been expecting a phone call from Hodgson, but it wasn’t to be this time.

It’s worth pointing out that Austin has seen a dip in form in the last three months with just three goals in 11 appearances, which could be a crucial factor that’s affected his chances and something Hodgson will have noticed.

Danny Ings has performed similarly at Burnley and may feel slightly unfortunate not to get the nod having contributed more goals-per-game than both Sturridge and Welbeck.

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Saido Berahino is the weakest candidate statistically out of the three most notable absentees from the squad, but as previously mentioned, he would’ve been unavailable through injury in any case.

It appears that Hodgson has gone with the tried and trusted experienced players combined with new addition Harry Kane who he couldn’t leave out based on the Tottenham striker’s form this season.

Austin and Ings will continue to chomp at the bit and if they can fire either of their sides to safety then maybe they’ll get a chance next time round.

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Stats: Papiss Cisse the most lethal striker in the Premier League

Newcastle United striker Papiss Demba Cisse is proving to be the same lethal striker that he was when he joined the club from Freiburg in January 2012.

The Senegalese forward netted an incredible 13 goals in 14 league games after joining at the midpoint of the season in the 2011-2012 campaign but had only scored 10 league goals in the two seasons that followed.

This year, however, Cisse is looking set to beat his best tally of 13 in a season as he is already on 11 and is making the most of his chances as he boasts the best goals-per-minute record in the Premier League.

Best minutes-per-goal statistics in the Premier League of those with at least five goals (via WhoScored.com)

Best minutes-per-goal statistics in the Premier League of those with at least five goals (via WhoScored.com)

Cisse has only started nine games this term but has found the net 11 times, picking up one assist and is now level with Rob Lee (34) in Newcastle’s all-time Premier League goalscoring charts in joint-seventh.

He is averaging a goal every 84 minutes and needs to be in the starting lineup on a more regular basis as a result.

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Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard is averaging a goal every 90 minutes as he has netted five from just three starts, while the league’s leading goalscorers, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa are averaging strikes every 92 and 100 minutes respectively.

Cisse has two in his last three for the Magpies now and will hope to bag another goal against Manchester United in Wednesday night’s clash.

The 29-year-old forward scored in the 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season and has three in five career appearances against the Red Devils.

Does Papiss Cisse deserve to start more games for Newcastle?

Will Harry Kane end the season as the Premier League’s top scorer?

Much has been made of the brilliant form of Harry Kane this season and Lewis Addley explores whether he can win the Premier League golden boot this year…

Having already notched 23 goals in all competitions for Tottenham so far this season there seems to be no end to Harry Kane‘s goalscoring habit.

As we know, he isn’t just finding the net against smaller teams but banging them in past the big sides in the Premier League too and has bagged a brace against both Chelsea and Arsenal already this season.

He is only four goals behind top scorer Diego Costa (17) in the league on 13 goals and he still has plenty of games ahead to make up the difference and overtake whoever is in front of him.

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Kane has bagged five in his last three including the crucial winner in the North London derby and with Tottenham Hotspur taking on West Ham United this Sunday lunchtime you wouldn’t bet against him finding the net again.

Spurs have a high volume of games as they balance domestic commitments alongside European games in the UEFA Europa League and although fitness is always a factor, Kane has the hunger to play every game and the desire to score goals seems to give him that boost in each appearance.

How Harry Kane compares statistically to with the other top scorers in the Premier League after 25 games (Stats via Squawka)

How Harry Kane compares statistically to with the other top scorers in the Premier League after 25 games (Stats via Squawka)

His two goals in the dramatic 5-3 win over Chelsea on New Years Day were pivotal to proving to any remaining doubters that he really does mean business and has what it takes to be one of the best strikers in the Premier League.

With 13 league games remaining Kane has plenty of time to add to his tally and with his confidence sky-high there is little doubt that he will continue to do so. Pulling rank to take penalties gives Kane even more opportunity for goals and he appears to be unstoppable at this moment in time.

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Kane has a wide variety of dimensions to his game, as we have seen this season, and that gives the 21-year-old forward that edge over many other goalscorers in the league. Whether it be strikes from range long or quick thinking in the box he is scoring all types of goals.

Kane’s confident approach to games and his professional attitude certainly gives him a good chance of winning the Golden Boot come the end of the campaign.

Do you think Harry Kane will win the Golden Boot in the Premier League this season?

What can New York City expect from David Villa?

New York City will be delighted that they’ll be able to start their inaugural campaign with a striker of David Villa‘s calibre.

The Spaniard has had a wonderful career to this point, winning numerous league, cup and European titles in his native country with Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid as well as becoming a European (2008) and World Cup champion (2010) with the national team.

His international performance is remarkable and he holds a wide array of records for the Spanish national side, including most goals (59), most World Cup finals goals (9) and most goals scored in one World Cup (5 in 2010).

Out of the top ten goalscorers in Major League Soccer last season, only Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City holds a better career goals-per-game ratio than David Villa with 0.57 on average per-game – Villa’s is 0.50 per-game.

David Villa stats

It’s worth bearing in mind that Villa has netted these goals at the highest level of the game consistently, both at club and international level, whereas Dwyer, despite all his undeniable talent, has never ventured outside of MLS, nor has he played for his country.

The Spanish goal-machine possesses the technique and finishing ability that most can only dream of and has regularly produced in the world’s most elite competitions which will allow him to bring in a whole wealth of experience due to the honours he’s won in the past (and lost, of course).

With the support from midfield in the shape of players such as Frank Lampard, the New York City frontline could make for a devastating combination, providing they click.

Will David Villa make a big impact in his first MLS season?

MLSGB’s MLS Goal of the Year Picks – Vote Now!

The MLS playoffs may be well underway, but goals scored in the postseason won’t be considered for the prestigious MLS Goal of the Season award, and so it’s time to start reliving some of the best strikes from the 2014 regular season.

There were 924 goals scored this year, but there can be only one that stands out above the rest, and you can now decide which goal gets it!

MLSSoccer.com is running their Goal of the Year vote too, but with 64 goals to choose from there, we decided to make it a little easier to decide by selecting what we think are the top ten goals.

It’s now up to you to decide which goal is named the MLSGB 2014 MLS Goal of the Year by voting below (voting will close on Sunday November 30th).

All goals courtesy of MLS on YouTube:

A) Will Johnson vs Vancouver Whitecaps (Week 13)

B) Marcon Pappa vs Colorado Rapids (Week 30)

C) Erick Torres vs Real Salt Lake (Week 16)

D) Obafemi Martins vs Portland Timbers (Week 26)

E) Erick Torres vs Montreal Impact (Week 17)

F) Jose Mari vs Vancouver Whitecaps (Week 5)

G) Jack McInerney vs Houston Dynamo (Week 16)

H) Federico Higuain vs Portland Timbers (Week 11)

I) Gaston Fernandez vs D.C United (Week 9)

J) Sam Cronin vs Philadelphia Union (Week 24)

MLSGB’s final MLS Goal of the Week for 2014 Season

The 2014 MLS regular season came to an end on Sunday night, after what has been another thrilling year of soccer.

Seattle Sounders clinched the MLS Supporters’ Shield with a 2-0 win over LA Galaxy, while Vancouver sealed the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 1-0 win at home to the Colorado Rapids.

The playoffs await now, as the drama looks set to continue right up to the MLS Cup on December 7.

Our final Goal of the Week award goes to the man who equalled the MLS single season goalscoring record with this strike in the final game of the season – Bradley Wright-Phillips.

The Red Bulls striker got his 27th of the season thanks to a brace against Sporting Kansas City, and although he couldn’t break the record, he tied it with this fine individual goal that sums up his tireless work rate:

Wright-Phillips won the Golden Boot for his achievements this year, but his Red Bull teammates must now prepare to host Kansas City in the Eastern Conference knockout round game on Thursday night.

Bradley Wright-Phillips cements place in MLS history with tied goalscoring record

Bradley Wright-Phillips made history on Sunday as he fired himself in to the record books by becoming the joint highest goalscorer in an MLS season.

His brace in Kansas helped New York Red Bulls to a 2-0 win and in the process took his tally to 27 goals – a number only previously achieved by Chris Wondolowski of San Jose Earthquakes in 2012 and Roy Lassiter of the now dissolved Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996.

Out of the three strikers that share the record, he managed to amass his goals in the least game time with 2,573 minutes spent on the pitch compared to the 2,813 minutes and 2,580 minutes that it took Wondolowski and Lassiter respectively.

He started less games and also managed to record the highest number of shots-on-target out of the three.

BWP StatsOther than one great season at Charlton Athletic in the 2011/12 campaign, Wright-Phillips was a player struggling to find his feet in the English game and the epiphany to join Major League Soccer must be a moment he looks back on with great fondness having now established himself as one of the sport’s truly great players.

Crossing the Atlantic is undoubtedly one of the boldest but greatest moves he has made in his career and now he’s reaping the rewards as well as hunting down MLS Cup glory with New York Red Bulls.

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Winning the golden boot and equalling the record is a wonderful achievement for the Englishman but his work for the season is far from over as attentions turn immediately to the Eastern Conference knockout round where New York will take on Sporting Kansas City at the Red Bull Arena on Thursday.

The way he performs in the knockout round and the further potential playoff games will be vital to the Red Bulls if they are to stand any chance of making the MLS Cup Final on Sunday 7th December.

Can Bradley Wright-Phillips fire New York Red Bulls to MLS Cup success?

Robbie Keane: The goal machine

The playoffs are now fast approaching and other than their defeat last weekend, LA Galaxy have been in a superb run of form going in to it, so they will be full of confidence.

They have lost just 3 of their last 24 games and went on a 10-game unbeaten run from 29th July to 5th October.

LA Galaxy’s last 24 games: Played 24 – Won 15 – Drawn 6 – Lost 3

Much of the attention for their achievements so far this season have focused on club legend, Landon Donovan, and rightly so.

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But with all eyes on Donovan, it’s allowed forward, Robbie Keane, to go about his business quietly but extremely efficiently.

He is the Galaxy’s top goalscorer with 19 and is the third highest across the entire MLS this season, behind only Red Bulls record-chaser Bradley Wright-Phillips (25 goals) and Dom Dwyer (21 goals) of Sporting Kansas City.

The Irishman has contributed an almost record-breaking 33 goals this season (19 scored – 14 assisted).

The record for most goals contributed in one MLS season is currently held by Chris Wondolowski when he notched 27 goals and 7 assists for San Jose Earthquakes in 2012, making it 34 in total.

Other notable efforts were that of Jason Kreis – he contributed 33 goals (18 scored – 15 assisted) for FC Dallas in 1999.

Cobi Jones, also of LA Galaxy, contributed 32 goals (19 scored – 13 assisted) in the 1998 season.

Most goals contributed in an MLS season

  • 34 – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 2012
  • 33 Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) 2014
  • 33 – Jason Kreis (FC Dallas) – 1999
  • 32 – Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) – 1998
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It all means that if Robbie Keane can either assist or score one more goal in his last two games, he will equal the record for most goals contributed in any MLS season – two more goals would see him set the record.

It comes as no coincidence as his maiden voyage in Major League Soccer saw him play a hand in 25 goals when he scored 16 and set-up 9 in the 2012 season.

The 2013 season saw him involved in 27 goals with 16 scored and 11 assisted, so he has been very consistent for three years running now and it certainly deserves a mention.

Will Robbie Keane set the record for most goals contributed in an MLS season?