Lower league goal-fiend to make his mark on the Premier League
Kevin Phillips was the last Englishman to top the Premier League scoring charts while plying his trade for a club outside the top four when he hit 30 playing for Sunderland.
This was way back in 1999/00, but could another man in red and white stripes – Southampton goal machine, Rickie Lambert – emulate his herculean effort this term? Odds of 80/1 suggest he can’t.
However, here are a few more similarities aside from on-pitch attire to make a case as to why he just might do it.
Firstly, 1999/00 was Phillips’ first year playing in England’s top division and, much like Lambert, no one could envisage he would amass such a mammoth haul.
Secondly, Phillips’ formed a two-pronged attack in the classic, if not dated, 4-4-2 formation. This is something that is employed down at St Mary’s and Lambert thrives having a man to play alongside up front.
Last season, whether his forward play involved playing off the powerhouse that is Guly Do Prado or the movement of Billy Sharp, Lambert consistently found the back of the net when working in tandem – just as Phillips did when he formed a double act with no-frills, Niall Quinn.
Thirdly, Lambert has proved himself as the complete goal-getter in the lower leagues. He can find the back of the net with both feet, with his head, from set pieces, from the penalty spot, inside the box, outside the box – basically, anywhere in the final third.
The fact that he commands such responsibility in the Saints’ team suggests that any goals they do get will come through him. If they can manage a half-decent season, the exact number he gets could surprise a few punters.
The average number of goals scored by the Premier League top scorer since the league shortened to 20 teams is 23.5 goals. That figure could well be within Lambert’s reach with service from creative players such as Adam Lallana and Matt Phillips, should Saints’ snap up the Blackpool winger.
Another factor that widens the field for Lambert, who notched 27 times in Southampton’s 2011/12, promotion-winning campaign, is that no player has managed to outscore his competitors two seasons running since Thierry Henry achieved the feat seven years ago.
This stat takes value away from pre-season favourite Robin van Persie’s price of 6/1 to have another goal-filled year so, all things considered, Lambert is tough to dispel at such a huge price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Stats supplied by Opta