This week our statistician Josh James analyses the effects of early goals.

Robin van Persie’s goal on Saturday – timed at 29 seconds – was the Club’s fastest recorded Premier League goal.

The previous record had been set just last season, when Marouane Chamakh netted against Wolves after 38 seconds on November 11, 2010.

On both occasions Arsenal’s flying start laid the foundation for victory – 2-1 against Sunderland at the weekend and 2-0 over Wolves last term.

Arsenal have scored six first-minute goals in all competitions in the past ten seasons, winning five and drawing the other. Indeed Arsenal have not lost any of the last 32 games in which they have scored in the opening five minutes (winning 26 of them). That run stretches back to November 22, 2000 when Spartak Moscow won 4-1 in the Champions League, despite Silvinho’s second-minute opener.

Broadening the parameters to scoring in the first ten minutes of a game, Arsenal’s win ratio in such circumstances is impressive.

Since 2002/03 (the last ten seasons inclusive) Arsenal have scored in the opening ten minutes of 78 matches, going on to win 64 (82 per cent), draw nine and lose five.

The team scored 236 goals in all in such matches, an average of 3.03 per game. On 12 occasions (15 per cent) the early strike remained Arsenal’s only goal of the game, and 26 times (33 per cent) the strike triggered at least three further Gunners goals in the match.

Behind The Numbers

Record by season
  W D L
2002/03 12 2 1
2003/04 8 1 0
2004/05 4 2 1
2005/06 6 0 0
2006/07 4 0 0
2007/08 12 1 0
2008/09 8 0 0
2009/10 2 1 0
2010/11 5 2 2
2011/12 3 0 1
Record by competition
  W D L
Premier League 44 7 4
FA Cup 5 0 0
Carling Cup 2 0 0
Champions League 13 2 1

Robin’s strike on Sunday is Arsenal’s fastest recorded Premier League goal, but nine years ago Gilberto’s effort at PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League was officially clocked at 20.07 seconds.

At the time it was the fastest ever UEFA Champions League strike, only for Roy Makaay of Bayern Munich (10.12 seconds) to break the record in 2007.

Interestingly, only eight of the 22 fastest goals in Champions League history (36 per cent) set Arsenal on the road to victory. Gilberto’s, of course, was one of them.

TOP TEN Fastest Champions League goals
Time (seconds) Player Match Date
10.12 Roy Makaay Bayern Munich 2, Real Madrid 1 07/03/2007
20.07 Gilberto PSV Eindhoven 0, Arsenal 4 25/09/2002
20.12 Allesandro Del Piero Man United 3, Juventus 2 01/10/1997
21.06 Clarence Seedorf FC Schalke 2, AC Milan 2 28/09/2005
25.20 Marek Kinci Club Brugge 3, Rapid Wien 2 02/11/2005
25.54 Dejan Stankovic Inter Milan 2, FC Schalke 5 05/04/2011
28.21 Mariano Bombarda Willem II 3, Sparta Prague 4 20/10/1999
28.46 Alexandros Alexoudis Panathinaikos 2, Aalborg BK 0 22/11/1995
30.08 Deco Porto 3, Molde 1 26/10/1999
31.04 Christian Giminez FC Basel 1, Man United 3 26/11/2002

Other ‘fastest’ Arsenal records of note include our quickest FA Cup goal; scored by Alan Sunderland after 13 seconds in the Semi-Final replay against Liverpool in 1980. It was the fastest goal ever in the competition at the time. The Gunners drew the match 1-1 but went on to triumph 1-0 after a third replay.

Nicklas Bendtner still holds the Club record for fastest goal after entering the play as a substitute for his header against Spurs in December 22, 2008. Timed from the moment the substitution board went up to announce the change, it was recorded by PA at 40 seconds, even though he was on the pitch for less than two seconds of playing time before he scored the winner at Emirates Stadium.

As for an unwanted record, Jason Crowe was sent off just 33 seconds into his debut on October 14, 1997 in a League Cup tie at Highbury against Birmingham City.

Having just come on as a substitute, the teenage defender was dismissed by referee Uriah Rennie for a reckless tackle, and at the time it was the fastest red card in British football history. He went on to make just two more appearances for Arsenal before moving to Portsmouth.

At the other end of the spectrum, Arsenal hold the records for latest goal to win an FA Cup Final – Andy Linghan in the 120th minute of the 1993 Final Replay (210th minute of the tie) to make it 2-1 – and also the latest goal ever to win a league title (Michael Thomas at Anfield in 1989). That goal was timed by club sources at 91 minutes 40 seconds on the very last day of the 1988/89 season, giving Arsenal the 2-0 win they needed.

Have we missed any notable goals? E-mail us with your comments. Here's what you've been saying so far:

"This makes great reading with Robin van Persie (Premier League), Alan Sunderland (FA Cup) and Gilberto (Champions League) all in our record books. To complete the set, which Arsenal player has scored the fastest Arsenal goal in the League Cup?" - David Dale

"I remember Alan Ball scoring in a league match against Man Utd at Highbury in the 1970s. I think it was recorded at 12 or 13 seconds. I remember watching the game on TV as it was broadcast live on NRK. There was one game almost every Saturday during the Norwegian winter. I think Ball scored one more and Arsenal won 3-1, in 1976 perhaps?" - Ernest Tell

"How about Steve Bould's own goal after 13 seconds in 1990?" - Andy Kelly

Josh James also provides the stats for the Arsenal Analysis pages of the matchday programme. To subscribe, or buy online, click here.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
19 Oct 2011