Flying starts

Behind the Numbers - Early goals

This week our statistician analyses the effects of early goals.

Theo Walcott's goal on Saturday - timed at 20 seconds - was the Club’s fastest recorded Premier League goal.

The previous record had been set just last season, when Robin van Persie netted 29 seconds into the win over Sunderland. Prior to that Marouane Chamakh held the club record, scoring after 38 seconds on November 11, 2010 against Wolves.

"Arsenal have lost just one of the past 40 games in which they have scored in the opening five minutes"

On all three of these occasions Arsenal’s flying start laid the foundation for victory.

Arsenal have scored eight first-minute goals in all competitions in the past 11 seasons, winning six and drawing the other two.

Indeed Arsenal have lost just one of the past 40 games in which they have scored in the opening five minutes (winning 30 of them). The sole defeat was last season away to Swansea City in the Premier League, before that the run stretched back to November 22, 2000 when Spartak Moscow won 4-1 in the Champions League, despite Silvinho’s second-minute opener.

Arsenal's record when scoring in opening ten minutes

Broadening the parameters to scoring in the first 10 minutes of a game, Arsenal’s win ratio in such circumstances is impressive.

Since 2002/03 (the last 10 seasons inclusive) Arsenal have scored in the opening 10 minutes of 91 matches, going on to win 72 (79 per cent), draw 13 and lose six.

The team scored 266 goals in all such matches, an average of 2.92 per game. On 17 occasions (19 per cent) the early strike remained Arsenal’s only goal of the game - as it did at the weekend.

Walcott's strike against QPR was the third time he had scored inside the first two minutes of a Premier League game this season (following Everton away and Manchester United at home), was the fastest in the league this season by any player, and the 12th fastest Premier League strike in history. 


Scoring in the first 10 minutes - Season by season

Scoring in the first 10 minutes - Season by season



Scoring in the first 10 minutes - By competition

Scoring in the first 10 minutes - By competition

It also matches (near enough) Gilberto’s effort away to PSV Eindhoven in the 2002/03 Champions League, which was officially clocked at 20.07 seconds.


At the time that was the fastest ever Champions League strike; Roy Makaay of Bayern Munich (10.12 seconds) broke the record in 2007.

Interestingly, only seven of the 21 fastest goals in Champions League history (33 per cent) set the team 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 2-1 Real Madrid 7/3/07
10.96 Jonas Valencia 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen 1/11/11
20.07 Gilberto PSV Eindhoven 0-4 Arsenal 25/9/02
20.12 Alessandro Del Piero Man United 3-2 Juventus 1/10/97
21.06 Clarence Seedorf FC Schalke 2-2 AC Milan 28/9/05
24.97 Pato Barcelona 2-2 AC Milan 13/09/11
25.20 Marek Kincl Club Brugge 3-2 Rapid Wien 2/11/05
25.54 Dejan Stankovic Inter Milan 2-5 FC Schalke 5/4/11
28.21 Mariano Bombarda Willem II 3-4 Sparta Prague 20/10/99
28.46 Alexandros Alexoudis Panathinaikos 2-0 Aalborg BK 22/11/95

Other ‘fastest’ Arsenal records of note include our quickest FA Cup goal - scored by Alan Sunderland after 13 seconds in the semi-final second replay against Liverpool in 1980. It was the fastest ever goal 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 unwanted records, 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.

Crowe went on to make just two more appearances for Arsenal before moving to Portsmouth.

At the other end of the spectrum, Arsenal hold the record 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.

All stats correct as at May 7, 2013

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