By Chris Harris
Arsenal's supporters were tearing their hair out at around 5pm last Saturday.
The reason? Half-an-hour earlier Manchester United were drawing, Aston Villa were down to 10 men and drawing while Chelsea were losing at home. All three found a late goal or two to secure three points apiece.
For many Arsenal fans it was 'typical' of their title rivals to put on such a late, late show. But within a couple of hours Arsène Wenger's team proved that - in reality - Arsenal lead the way when it comes to last-gasp goals.
Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner struck in the final six minutes at the KC Stadium to secure a 3-1 victory over Hull. That was the 10th and 11th time in the Premier League this season that Arsenal have scored in the last 10 minutes of a match - a tally no top-flight rival can match.
Indeed, as our first table shows, Chelsea's late goals against Stoke on Saturday were something of a rarity. The Blues have scored just four times in the last 10 minutes this season, only two more than 'bottom club' Fulham.
|Team||Total Goals||Goals in last 10 minutes|
|West Bromwich Albion||20||5|
|West Ham United||29||4|
But perhaps more important than the quantity of late goals is the 'quality' of late goals. In other words, their capacity to change results. After all, scoring two late goals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat is far better than adding a stoppage-time fifth in a 5-0 rout.
In this respect Arsenal lie third and, until just after Christmas, they were a lot lower. Before December 28, the seven goals Arsenal had scored in the last 10 minutes of their Premier League games were worth just one point - Cesc Fabregas' header snatching a draw at Sunderland in October.
That all changed after Christmas when four late Arsenal goals turned three potential draws into victories, earning six priceless points in the process. William Gallas got the ball rolling with his headed winner against Portsmouth and Bendtner struck late against Bolton before he and Nasri found the net at Hull.
Everton top our second table and underlined their prowess in the closing stages of matches by nicking a point in the Merseyside derby at Liverpool on Monday night, courtesy of Tim Cahill's header.
But spare a thought for Bolton. Their four late goals this season have been worth nothing in terms of points, making Gary Megson's team the masters of the late consolation.
Finally, we can reveal who are the kings of the late goal this season and, not surprisingly, Arsenal stars feature prominently.
Bendtner is one of 22 players who have netted twice in the last 10 minutes of their matches. But three players have three last-gasp goals to their name - Roman Bednar for West Brom, Louis Saha for Everton and Arsenal's very own Emmanuel Adebayor.
The Togo striker scored twice late on at Blackburn in August and came off the bench to find the target (and claim an assist) in a 2-0 win at West Ham. More of the same will be very welcome in the weeks and months to come.
|Team||Total Points||Points gained in last 10 minutes|
|West Bromwich Albion||21||6|
|West Ham United||29||2|