Numbers tell the tale: Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud outclassing Diego Costa and Harry Kane

When measured by goals per 90 minutes, it is not Chelsea's Diego Costa or Tottenham's Harry Kane or even Man City's Sergio Aguero at the top of the Premier League, but Arsenal's oft-belittled Olivier Giroud.

Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring for Arsenal on Saturday in his side's Premier League win over Liverpool. John Sibley / Reuters / Action Images / April 4, 2015
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A blistering start to life in England saw Diego Costa hit seven goals in his opening four appearances for Chelsea back in August, making himself and his new club the early favourites for Premier League honours in his debut season in England.

Fast forward 26 games and Chelsea are cantering towards the title and Costa is still the division’s most prolific scorer with 19 goals, although it is a spot he shares with Tottenham’s Harry Kane, a player who did not score his first Premier League goal until November 2.

Costa’s latest hamstring injury puts Kane firmly in the driving seat to finish the Premier League’s top scorer in his first season as a bona fide starter, but a more detailed look into the division’s strike force reveals an alternative candidate with a claim to being labelled the most deadly.

Of players to have netted five or more goals this season, no one has found the back of the net more frequently than Arsenal's Olivier Giroud. The French frontman, who missed the best part of three months earlier in the season due to injury, boasts a return of 0.87 goals per 90 minutes, the highest in the Premier League.

Despite seven goals in his last six appearances, the slick Giroud still has five goals fewer than his Chelsea and Tottenham counterparts, but while he is unlikely to topple that duo to finish as Golden Boot winner, the rate at which he has scored his goals is more impressive than Costa’s 0.84 and Kane’s 0.81. If we exclude goals scored from penalties, Kane’s goalscoring rate falls to 0.73.

While Giroud has inspired an Arsenal resurgence since returning from his lay-off, another player who would have liked to have seen more playing time this season is Newcastle’s 11-goal forward, Papiss Cisse. The Senegalese international has been plagued by injury and suspension this season, yet has delivered 0.82 non-penalty goals for every 90 minutes he has spent on the pitch, ranking him the third most prolific striker just behind Giroud and Costa.

While Cisse would be the surprise inclusion on this list, one name is conspicuous by its absence. You would be forgiven for expecting Sergio Aguero to feature in any discussion of predatory strikers, but the Manchester City forward falls short of his rivals when comparing non-penalty goals per 90 minutes. The Argentine may have 17 goals to his name this season, making him a credible contender for the Golden Boot, but excluding his five penalties sees Aguero’s strike rate fall from 0.75 to 0.58 goals per 90 minutes – well behind the rate maintained by Costa, Kane and Giroud.

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