Late in a game against Manchester City recently the hosts Crystal Palace gained a corner and on came Christian Benteke from the bench to do what he used to do better than most.
Striding purposely among the melee of players inside the penalty area he mimed to the corner-taker exactly where he wanted it – right on his forehead – and the delivery was duly inch perfect.
The Belgian rose like a salmon and planted the firmest of headers powerfully towards the far corner of the goal only to see Ederson stretch out an arm and palm the ball onto the crossbar and out to safety.
Benteke crumpled to the ground in sheer dismay and he did so because he knew it would continue: the barbs, the chuckling. He knew he would still be regarded by the cruellest of contradictions: a goal-scorer who couldn’t score.
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Harshly put this is akin to a heart surgeon incapable of performing heart surgery but it wasn’t always the case for the 28-year-old. At Aston Villa he averaged just shy of a goal every two games scoring 49 in 101 appearances. He was also, for what it’s worth, unplayable on his day. In a single season with Liverpool the expensively-purchased forward was hardly prolific but nine Premier League goals is still a semi-acceptable number considering the abrupt arrival of Jurgen Klopp suddenly plummeted him down the pecking order.
In late April Benteke opened the scoring against Arsenal and the relief etched onto his face was understandable because his header ended a remarkable drought that has lasted 358 days. If he believed that was a turning point to his woes however he was very much mistaken because ever since that sunny spring day another drought has emerged, one that persists to this day.
It’s hard to imagine how a proud international forward deals with that but there is just a tiniest sliver of consolation it is this: within the annals of the Premier League he is not alone.
A handful of others went longer without finding the net but Stewart is included here due to the strange quirk of scoring on his Premier League debut for the Reds then managing to draw a complete blank for the rest of his disappointing spell there.
A solitary strike in 32 games is a pitiful return for a player who pulled up proverbial trees for Manchester City which prompted Graeme Souness to shell out £2.3m for him (a lot of money in 1992). A series of loan spells ensued, featuring none other than Palace, before Stewart ended a once glistening career with Workington.
How much more difficult is it to score in the top flight compared to the lower leagues? Ask the former England under-21 man because he knows better than anyone.
In the Championship, Cresswell averaged roughly one goal per three full ninety minutes, a solid if largely unspectacular return.
Whenever he was called upon to trouble elite defences however the goals would disappear faster than an ice cube in the desert. A woeful run of 45 fruitless games stands out for all the wrong reasons, and his overall Premier League record finished at just two in 66 outings, both of which were scored in the 1999/2000 season.
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The Portuguese international’s goal-shy spell in East London is well worth gawping at in disbelief even if technically he was a wide attacking threat rather than an outright front man.
In five seasons and 109 games with the Hammers, Boa Morte scored precisely twice and if the total blank drawn from his final campaign startles that is nothing compared to the combined efforts of 2007/08 and 2008/09. Games played = 56. Goals – nought. Shots = quite a lot, probably.
A far cry from his nine Fulham goals during the 2003/04 campaign.