The Analyst: Can you ever score TOO early in the Premier League?

Much is made of the all-important first goal but is it as important when it comes in the opening five minutes of a game?

We're always told the first goal is all-important when it comes to the Premier League and the stats certainly back that up.

In the 182 top-flight games this season in which there has been a goal, the team breaking the deadlock has gone on to win 122 times (67%). Only 23 times (12.63%) have the team scoring first gone on to lose.

But, can you ever score too early?

Well, remarkably, it seems that maybe you can.

Callum Wilson goal Newcastle Tottenham Oct21

In the 21 Premier League games this season in which the opening goal came inside the first five minutes, 11 were won by the team breaking the deadlock, a sizable drop to 55%. Four were drawn and six were actually won by the team who went behind, a dramatic increase from 12.63% to 28.6%.

This is further skewed when you take Manchester City out of the equation, with the Premier League leaders having won all 16 of the games in which they have scored first and all three of the games in which they notched inside five minutes.

Incredibly, the first four games of the season in which a team scored before five minutes were on the clock, all resulted in wins for the side that conceded.

Brighton fought back from conceding a second-minute James Tarkowski goal to beat Burnley 2-1 on August 14, while a Tomas Soucek double helped West Ham recover from a 1-0 down to see off Newcastle the same day.

James Tarkowski Burnley goal Aug21

Newcastle succumbed to a 3-2 defeat against Tottenham on October 17 despite Callum Wilson's second-minute goal and six days later Everton suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Watford after opening the scoring in the second minute through Tom Davies.

The Hornets have been on the receiving end too, suffering a 4-1 defeat after Emmanuel Dennis put them ahead in the fifth minute against West Ham - the second time the Irons have gone behind very early on only to win the game.

And if you only consider goals scored inside the first four minutes of a game, the stats make for even more interesting reading.

In the 12 Premier League games in which the deadlock has been broken within 240 seconds of the kick-off, a third of them were actually won by the team who fell behind - Brighton, Tottenham, Watford and Norwich.

Three were drawn and just five (41.6%) were won by the quick starters.

So, while scoring first is still more likely to lead to a victory, the stats prove that scoring inside the first four minutes significantly decreases your chances of doing so.

(Figures correct up to and including January 14, 2022)

READ MORE: Seven Premier League players who need a January move, with Man Utd duo heading the list

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