Chelsea’s recent 4-0 victory over fellow London club Tottenham Hotspur had one controversial moment. With Chelsea leading 1-0, Samuel Eto’o was awarded a penalty that led to Chelsea’s second goal that effectively ended the game. Replays showed that there was minimal contact between Eto’o and Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul. Not only was a penalty awarded, but Kaboul was sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity. After the match instead of answering questions regarding the penalty, Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho deflected attention by stating that Chelsea were not the “the king of penalties.” This swipe was intended at second placed Liverpool, who have had several penalties awarded in their favor this season. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has been heavily criticized for how easily he appears to go down in the area and has won several penalties this season.
Mourinho’ comments beg the question of whether certain teams receive a disproportional amount of penalties compared to other teams. Most observers believe top teams receive more penalties compared to some of the lesser clubs. The Premier League came into existence during the 1992/1993 season. The following list shows the ten teams that have been awarded the most penalties since the inception of the Premier League. While all the top teams make the list there are some lesser teams and teams that are currently not in England’s top division. All penalty statistics are up to date as of the weekend of matches played on March 8th.
10. Manchester City – 70 Penalties
The Premier League’s newest financial powerhouse starts off the list of teams with the most penalties since the Premier League originated. Manchester City were part of the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/1993. However, unlike most of the teams on this list, Manchester City have not been present throughout the Premier League era. Manchester City were relegated to England’s second tier in 1996 and after two seasons had the misfortune to be relegated again into the third tier of English football. Manchester City returned to the Premier League after two consecutive promotions only to be relegated again in 2001. They have been a constant in the Premier League ever since the 2002-2003 season and have been awarded 32 penalties since the 2009/2010 season.
9. Blackburn Rovers – 83 Penalties
Blackburn Rovers are the only team on this list that do not currently play in the Premier League as the Rovers were relegated after the 2011-2012 season. They were an original member of the Premier League starting in 1992 and are one of five clubs to have ever won the Premier League title (Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City are the others). Rovers’ 2012 relegation was not their first as they were also relegated after the 1998/1999 season. Rovers returned to the Premier League after missing two seasons. Despite missing four seasons of Premier League play they are amongst the top penalty takers in Premier League history.
8. Tottenham Hotspur – 93 Penalties
Unlike the first two clubs on this list, Tottenham Hotspur have played in every single Premier League season to date. They were part of the inaugural Premier League season and seem poised to continue comfortably in the top tier of English football. In the summer of 2013, Tottenham sold star player Gareth Bale for a world record fee. They re-invested the money from that fee into their current squad and spent 26 million pounds on Spanish striker Roberto Soldado. In his first Premier League season, Soldado has been a disappointment and has found difficulty scoring goals from open play. One area he does excel in is taking penalties. He has already converted four penalties for Tottenham this season.
7. Aston Villa – 94 Penalties
Aston Villa are another team that have been in the Premier League since it came into existence. Aston Villa are currently in eleventh position in the Premier League this season. Aston Villa disprove the notion that top teams get more penalties than teams in mid-table or at the bottom of the league table. The club, who have been mired in relegation battles in each of the last two seasons, find themselves amongst the top penalty takers in the history of the Premier League. Villa have been mostly a mid-table team through their Premier League existence, with few exceptions including a second position finish in the inaugural season of 1993/1993. This season, Aston Villa have been awarded four penalties.
6. Everton – 95 Penalties
Everton are another club that have graced the Premier League in every single season. For most of their Premier League existence, Everton have been a mid-table team, who often miss out on Champions League qualification with few exceptions such as their 2004/2005 campaign where they finished fourth. The 2004/2005 season was Everton’ highest finish in the Premier League era. This season, Everton are in sixth place and have been awarded three penalties and have converted two of them. Everton usually convert their spot kicks thanks to the prowess of club and England left back, Leighton Baines.
5. Chelsea – 109 Penalties
Jose Mourinho‘s comments regarding Chelsea not being “the kings of penalties” may be accurate, yet Chelsea are not far off. Last season Chelsea were awarded a league leading eleven penalties. This season, the honor goes to another club on the list. Chelsea’s Frank Lampard is one of seven players and the only midfielder to have scored over 150 goals in the Premier League era. His prowess from twelve yards is one of the reasons why. With Lampard declining with advanced age and not playing every game the penalty duties have been taken up by Eden Hazard who has converted spot kicks against Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur recently.
4. Newcastle United – 110 Penalties
Newcastle United have not been present in every single Premier League season. They were not present for the inaugural Premier League season and they also missed 2009/2010 season as they were relegated in 2009. Despite missing two Premier League seasons, they find themselves near the top when it comes to penalties taken in the history of the Premier League. Newcastle great Alan Shearer is the all-time Premier League scorer with 260 league goals. Of those 260 goals, Shearer scored 58 penalties. Shearer scored all those penalties not just with Newcastle, but with Blackburn Rovers as well who were ninth on this list.
3. Manchester United – 112 Penalties
Manchester United are the most successful club of the Premier League era. They have played in every single Premier League season and have won more Premier League titles, thirteen, than all other teams combined. There is a perception that they were the beneficiaries of close decisions especially when they played at Old Trafford. It seemed that every game refereed by Mike Reilly featured a United penalty. Since the 2009/2010 season, United have taken 33 penalties. It is somewhat surprising that they have not received the most penalties in the Premier League’ history. Robin van Persie is the current penalty specialist for Manchester United and he joins a list of great penalty takers such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
2. Arsenal – 118 Penalties
No team complained about Manchester United being the beneficiaries of controversial decisions more than Arsenal. In the early 2000’s, when Arsenal were United’s greatest rivals in the Premier League, it seemed every penalty awarded against them garnered a complaint. During their unbeaten run in 2003/2004, Arsenal drew 0-0 against United at Old Trafford despite a missed penalty by van Nistelrooy. Their 47 match unbeaten streak came to an end the following season controversially at Old Trafford and van Nistelrooy made amends when he struck from the penalty spot. Despite these ‘injustices,’ Arsenal sit above Manchester United in terms of penalties during the Premier League history.
1. Liverpool – 123 Penalties
The “king of penalties” comment made by Jose Mourinho was aimed at the team directly below them in the Premier League table, Liverpool. Liverpool have played in every single Premier League season and sit atop the standings in terms of penalties taken. This season is no different with Liverpool having been awarded seven penalties so far to lead the league. Steven Gerrard is the primary penalty taker for Liverpool and has been prolific from the spot this season. Six of Gerrard’s eight Premier League goals this season have been penalties and Liverpool’s only penalty miss came from the foot of Daniel Sturridge. Gerrard has scored 106 Premier League goals in his career and 24 of those have come from the penalty spot.
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