Analysis: Our 7,000 top-flight goals

7,000 goals feature
7,000 goals feature

We became the third team in the history of the English league to reach 7,000 top-flight goals with our opener against Leeds on Saturday.

Gabriel Martinelli's goal in the 16th minute brought up the milestone, and we follow Everton (7,139 goals) and Liverpool (7,071 goals) to the achievement.

The goal came in our 4,228th game, meaning they have arrived at a rate of 1.66 per game.

Below we analyse the landmark in more detail. 

Most goals scored in top-flight football
Everton 7,139 4,611
Liverpool 7,071 4,228
Arsenal 7,003 4,228
Aston Villa 6,727 4,163
Manchester United 6,677 3,870
Manchester City 5,920 3,714
Tottenham Hotspur 5,506 3,485
Chelsea 5,375 3,492
Newcastle United 5,306 3,558
Sunderland 5,143 3,340


We first played top-flight football (in Division One as it was then) in season 1904/05, and needed four games before we eventually found the net. It came at home to Wolves on September 24, 1904, and was scored by striker Charlie Satterthwaite, paving the way for a 2-0 victory. 

A former Liverpool player (he won the championship for the Reds in 1901) Satterthwaite was a tall and powerfully built forward, who reportedly once knocked out the Sheffield United goalkeeper when one of his rocket-like shots rebounded into him off the woodwork.

He ended that 1904/05 season as our top scorer with 11 goals, but we scored just 36 goals in total, from 34 games in our first season in Division One. 
It remains our second lowest scoring season in the league, the only worse goalscoring campaign was in 1912/13 - when we netted just 26 times and suffered relegation for the one and only time in our history.

At the other end of the scale, our most fruitful season for goals in a single league campaign was the title-winning year of 1930/31. Herbert Chapman's side scored 127 times in 42 games that year. It would have been a new record, were it not for second placed Aston Villa's haul of 128 goals in the very same season!

The most we have scored in a 38-game season is 87, achieved in 2004/05.

This is our 105th season of top-level football, meaning we score an average of 67 per year.

Our top-10 scoring seasons
Season Division Games Goals
1930/31 First Division 42 127
1932/33 First Division 42 118
1934/35 First Division 42 115
1952/53 First Division 42 97
1931/32 First Division 42 90
1963/64 First Division 42 90
1958/59 First Division 42 88
1925/26 First Division 42 87
2004/05 Premier League 38 87
1962/63 First Division 42 86


It took us 24 years to bring up the first 1,000 top-flight goals, due partly to a four-year hiatus for World War One, and a couple of seasons spent in Division Two. The 1,000th goal came in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool, on October 27, 1928 - 728 games into life as a top flight side – and was scored by Len Thompson, one of only six league goals he netted for the club.

In contrast, our last 1,000 goals took just over 14 years to muster. Goal number 6,000 was scored by Cesc Fabregas, at Emirates Stadium, on September 2, 2007, in a 3-1 win over Portsmouth.

That was 546 games ago, making this most recent 1,000 our third quickest. 
The quickest thousand was the second, consisting mainly of the glorious 1930s era, when high scores were commonplace in Division One. It took us just 480 matches to go from 1,000 to 2,000, which was scored against Preston North End on March 15, 1947. Reg Lewis netted that goal, at Highbury, as part of his hat-trick in a 4-1 win. 

Goal 3,000 was actually an own goal, scored by Manchester City's Ken Barnes, helping us to a 2-1 win at Maine Road on January 23, 1960.
The man going into the record books as the scorer of our 4,000th top-flight goal in 1975 was Alex Cropley, scoring in our 5-0 home win over Coventry City.

Paul Merson scored the 5,000th goal, in a 3-3 draw with Nottingham Forest at Highbury on March 31, 1992.

Martinelli was aged 20 years and 183 days when he netted goal number 7,000 - just 62 days older than Cesc was when he claimed the 6,000th.

Games to reach each milestone
0-1000 728
1001-2000 480
2001-3000 543
3001-4000 656
4001-5000 682
5001-6000 593
6001-7000 546
Milestone scorers
Milestone Scorer Fixture Date
1,000 Len Thompson Arsenal 4-4 Liverpool October 27, 1928
2,000 Reg Lewis Arsenal 4-1 Preston March 15, 1947
3,000 Ken Barnes (own goal) Manchester City 1-2 Arsenal January 23, 1960
4,000 Alex Cropley Arsenal 5-0 Coventry City October 11, 1975
5,000 Paul Merson Arsenal 3-3 Nottingham Forest March 31, 1992
6,000 Cesc Fabregas Arsenal 3-1 Portsmouth September 2, 2007
7,000 Gabriel Martinelli Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal December 18, 2021


Thierry Henry has scored more of those 7,000 goals than any other player, his haul of 175 league strikes accounts for 2.5 per cent of our all-time total. He's one of ten players in our history who amassed at least 100 goals in the top-flight, Cliff Bastin (150) and Ian Wright (128) complete the top three.

Of the current squad, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is our leading league goalscorer with 68, followed by Alexandre Lacazette with 52.

Some of the most significant goals among the 7,000 are goals that clinched league titles. The most famous of these is arguably Michael Thomas's late, late goal at Anfield to win the championship on the final day of 1988/89. 

More recently, Sylvain Wiltord scored the only goal of the game to confirm the title at Old Trafford in 2002, while Ray Kennedy scored the all-important goal to win the league at White Hart Lane in 1971. Though technically speaking, we would have won the title without that goal – a goalless draw on the night would have been enough. 

Much, much earlier than that, Ted Drake scored the all-important goal to give us the league title with two games to spare in 1935 - scoring the only goal of the game away to Middlesbrough. Our other league titles were decided by bigger wins or draws.

In terms of managers, Arsène Wenger's reign accounts for nearly one quarter of all the top-flight goals we have ever scored. His team scored 1,561 league goals (22.3 per cent of the total), from 828 games. 

Top-20 top-flight scorers
Player Years Games Goals
Thierry Henry 1999-2012* 258 175
Cliff Bastin 1929-46 350 150
Ian Wright 1991-98 221 128
Jimmy Brain 1924-31 204 125
Doug Lishman 1948-55 226 125
Ted Drake 1934-39 168 124
David Jack 1928-34 181 113
John Radford 1964-76 379 111
Joe Hulme 1926-37 333 107
Reg Lewis 1938-52 154 103
Jack Lambert 1926-33 143 98
David Herd 1955-61 166 97
Robin van Persie 2004-12 194 96
Joe Baker 1962-66 144 93
Don Roper 1947-56 297 88
Dennis Bergkamp 1995-2006 315 87
Alan Smith 1987-95 264 86
Cliff Holton 1950-58 198 83
Paul Merson 1986-97 327 78
Frank Stapleton 1975-81 225 75

With thanks to Andy Kelly

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