To quote my standard response in any given post-match press conference on Football Manager, goals change games whenever they are scored. Yet, long-range goals always feel particularly pivotal.
More often than not, they’re incredibly pleasing on the eye – everybody loves an absolute belter from the peripheries of the final third – but it’s the way many are conjured up from practically nothing that makes them so important.
In close-knit encounters between two high quality sides who aren’t allowing an inch of space in their own box, they can often prove to be the difference come the final whistle, real match-winning strikes.
Thus, those who can score regularly from long range are obviously a huge asset to the managers and clubs they play for, representing a chance of getting a goal out of nothing practically every week.
That perhaps justifies much of the buzz ever-surrounding Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, a long-range specialist who scored the most Premier League goals from outside the box this season with six – nearly half his overall 13-goal tally in the top flight.
Yet, that has required a whopping 63 attempts from beyond the 18-yard line and although a one-in-ten strike-rate certainly isn’t bad from such distance, it pales in comparison to Harry Kane’s.
He comes second for Premier League goals outside the box with five, but doesn’t even rank in the top six for efforts from that range – amassing his haul from just 42 attempts to give him an outside the box strike-rate of just over one-in-eight. Unquestionably, Tottenham’s star striker is a goal machine.
It’s also rather interesting that all four of Xherdan Shaqiri’s league goals for Stoke this term came from outside the box, not least including the absolutely ridiculous effort against Hull City below. It’s been a somewhat underwhelming campaign from the Swiss international, but there’s no questioning his natural talent.
Aside from that, the rest of the top six are made of the usual suspects. Kevin De Bruyne, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gylfi Sigurdsson are all famed for their phenomenal technique when striking the ball and it’s told once again this season with four apiece.
Much like Kane, Ibrahimovic’s strike-rate from distance also stands out, netting his from just 35 attempts – just shy of one-in-nine. With the Swedish striker’s future at Old Trafford uncertain, finding another forward with the talent to hit the net from afar could be crucial for Jose Mourinho this summer.