In 2022-23, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland broke the Premier League record for the most goals scored in a single season. But which top scorers did he beat in the process?
The Premier League had to wait 28 years for a player to surpass the all-time seasonal scoring record set by both Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole, but Erling Haaland finally did it last season. His 35th Premier League goal on 3 May 2023 broke Shearer and Cole’s record of 34 and there was even time for him to add one more to his tally before the campaign was out.
With six goals in Manchester City’s four Premier League games so far (including a hat-trick versus Fulham on MD 4), the Norwegian striker has started 2023-24 where he left off. There’s every chance he gets close to his record again.
As he chases down Premier League history, we give you a complete run-down of the best seasonal goalscoring records the Premier League has ever witnessed. Can Haaland outdo himself as the top player in the all-time rankings?
Erling Haaland 2022-23 (36 goals)
Erling Haaland smashed the single-season Premier League scoring record in his first ever season in England – no mean feat.
He scored his 36th goal of the Premier League season (and his 52nd overall at club level in 2022-23) with his strike in Man City’s 3-0 win over Everton on 14 May 2023, becoming the first English top-flight player to surpass 35 goals in a single campaign since Ron Davies in 1966-67 (37).
Of course, he didn’t break the all-time top flight seasonal record set by Everton’s Dixie Dean (60) in 1927-28, but Haaland became just the third Premier League player to score at least 30 goals in their first season in the competition after Andrew Cole in 1993-94 (34) and Kevin Phillips in 1999-00 (30), while he was also the fastest player in competition history to reach 30 goals (27 apps).
Four hat-tricks were been scored by Haaland to contribute towards his 36-goal tally – the only player to score more trebles in a single Premier League season was Alan Shearer (five) in 1995-96.
Alan Shearer 1994-95 (34 goals)
Alan Shearer scored 31 goals in 1993-94 but it wasn’t enough to seal the Premier League’s Golden Boot. That went to Andrew Cole (see below) but both men represented up-and-coming clubs looking to damage Manchester United’s gleaming new hegemony at the top of English football. Shearer would not only score more goals than Cole in 1994-95 but he would also fire his Blackburn Rovers team to their first league championship since 1914.
Shearer scored 34 times in 42 appearances, and while the goal total is impressive, the fact he started all 42 league games (and was subbed off only twice) is perhaps even more so, given the injury problems he endured throughout his career. It would be the only campaign in Shearer’s Premier League life in which he started all possible games in a single season and his reward was the only major honour of his career.
Shearer was famously reluctant to use his left foot, something that can be seen by the fact only one of the 34 goals this season – an early strike in a 3-1 win at Manchester City on Boxing Day – came with that appendage. Nine of his 34 came in the opening 15 minutes of games, as Shearer and Blackburn started on the front foot in their attempt to stop Manchester United winning three titles in a row. This was something they ultimately achieved, Shearer scoring on the final day of the season at a restless Anfield, more bothered about United not winning the league than the day’s result. As it happened, Liverpool won 2-1 but Alex Ferguson’s team failed to beat West Ham so Rovers finished top.
Shearer’s imperial goal period had what it deserved: a major honour.
Andrew Cole 1993-94 (34 goals)
One of Manchester United’s schemes to derail Blackburn’s ultimately-successful title bid in 1994-95 was to purchase the 34-goal reigning Golden Boot holder Andy Cole from Newcastle United in January 1995, and while no-one argued with the move from a purchasing point of view, there was widespread astonishment that Newcastle would let their star man go. Cole had fired the Magpies back into the top-flight in 1992-93 and his totals of 34 goals and 13 assists in 1993-94 were outright leading figures in both categories, a feat that wouldn’t be repeated by a single player until Harry Kane did so in 2020-21. Even more impressively, none of Cole’s 34 goals that season were penalties, and by the time he ended his Premier League career in 2008, only one of his 187 goals was sourced from the penalty spot.
Cole would end his career with five Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, two FA Cups and a League Cup but they all arrived after 1993-94, the season in which he looked like, and indeed was, the most exciting striker in the country.
Mohamed Salah 2017-18 (32 goals)
Cole and Shearer’s 34-goal seasons came in the last two Premier League campaigns to feature 22 teams, and hence 42 games. From 1995-96, teams (and fit players) would play 38 games, and for a long time it seemed like 31 goals was the glass ceiling for player goals in this structure. That was until Liverpool chose to bring Mohamed Salah, formerly of Chelsea, back to the Premier League from Roma in summer 2017 to complete the formation of the famous front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Salah.
The Egyptian scored on his club debut at Watford, albeit in a disappointing 3-3 draw, and he would go on to score four more against them in the reverse fixture at Anfield. Salah scored against Arsenal, Chelsea and from distance in Liverpool’s 4-3 thriller against Manchester City in January. He scored three goals against Tottenham but most importantly he scored against Brighton on the final day, because that took him to that landmark figure of 32 goals in a 38-game season. Anguish would follow in the form of that shoulder injury he picked up challenging with Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final, but Salah’s 2017-18 league campaign is one of the greatest ever seen in the English top-flight. His haul of seven (seven) LFC player of the month awards that season only goes to prove the point.
Luis Suarez 2013-14 (31 goals)
Salah overtook three 31-goal players with his 2017-18 season and one of them was an Anfield predecessor, Luis Suarez. The Uruguyan had to wait until late September before opening his account, not because of a slow start or injury but because he was completing a bumper 10-game ban, handed out for biting Branislav Ivanovic in his club’s home game with Chelsea in April 2013. It meant that Suarez could only feature in 33 Premier League games in 2013-14 but he certainly made up for lost time.
He scored hat-tricks against West Brom in October, Cardiff in March and got his customary glut against Norwich City with a magnificent four in a pre-Christmas rout of the Canaries. In fact, he scored 10 goals in December, which remains a Premier League record for a single month, but if there’s one criticism, on-field at least, it’s that he scored only two goals in April in May as Liverpool’s title bid gloriously neared and then vanished in dramatic circumstances. His last Premier League goal of the season, and indeed the last of his career in England, came in the 3-3 capitulation against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in Liverpool’s penultimate game. Suarez left the pitch in tears and left Liverpool soon after. Incredibly he would be caught out biting an opponent again at the 2014 World Cup to bookend a madcap campaign, but what a season it had been.
Cristiano Ronaldo 2007-08 (31 goals)
This season was the one real glimpse Cristiano Ronaldo gave of the industrial quantities of goals he would plunder once he moved to Real Madrid in 2009. 2007-08 saw Manchester United win the Premier League title for the second season in a row and add the Champions League to boot. Ronaldo’s combination with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez was awe-inspiring at times and the latter two players were invariably happy to put in untold grunt work for Ronaldo to profit from, and boy, did he profit.
The season started badly with a red card at Fratton Park in his second appearance, and the first goal didn’t come until United played Birmingham City in late September, via Rio Ferdinand’s penultimate Premier League assist. Like an orthodontist’s workload, Ronaldo’s season of plenty was built on braces, rather than hat-tricks of which there was only one (his second and third Premier League trebles would have to wait until the 2021-22 season in the distant future). He scored a pair of goals against Wigan at Old Trafford in October, Blackburn in November, Fulham and Everton in December, Portsmouth in January, Newcastle in February, Bolton in March and West Ham in May. His 31st goal of the season came in the final league game of the season at Wigan, a 2-0 win that gave Man Utd the title ahead of Chelsea, the same team they would soon overcome on penalties in the Champions League final in Moscow.
Alan Shearer 1995-96 (31 goals)
In August 1995 Alan Shearer was coming off a 34-goal season (see above) and played for the champions of England. But manager Kenny Dalglish had moved to a mysterious director of football role, leaving Ray Harford as manager and Rovers with little chance, it turned out, of retaining their league title. So the fact that Shearer scored a then-record 31 goals in a 38-game season as Blackburn finished only seventh and fought each other in the Champions League was impressive. And it was a goalscoring season built around hat-tricks, with Shearer scoring a Premier League record five in one season. He ended the season with a brace against Wimbledon on a Wednesday in Lancashire and that was the last time the Ewood Park faithful saw Shearer score in blue and white. He top-scored at Euro ’96 and then moved to Newcastle United for a world record fee of £15m. He’d score more Premier League goals for Newcastle United than Blackburn, but never at the same sheer rate.
Alan Shearer 1993-94 (31 goals)
Yet more Shearer. This 31-goal haul came in a 42-game season so is perhaps less impressive than the 31 in 1995-96 but Shearer did score 12 away goals in 1993-94, a Premier League high for him, and he also answered any doubts that remained after the knee injury that had impacted 1992-93. This campaign is also notable for a total of nine braces, a seasonal Premier League record for a single player who caused double trouble on a relentless basis.
Harry Kane 2022-23 (30 goals)
Thanks to two goals on the final day of the 2022-23 season against Leeds United, Harry Kane reached the 30-goal mark for the second time in a Premier League season. In doing so, he became the first player to score 30+ goals in two separate 38-game EPL seasons, but it’ll be a sore subject for Kane, as he failed to win the Golden Boot in either of them – Erling Haaland beating him this season after Mohamed Salah outscored him in 2017-18.
Kane’s brace in the final game of the season meant that he scored in 26 different Premier League matches across 2022-23, equalling the all-time Premier League seasonal record set by Andy Cole in 1993-94, but setting a new record in a 38-game season in the competition.
After moving to Bayern Munich in August 2023, these may be the final goals he ever scores for the club – even maybe the Premier League. As it stands, Kane’s 30 goals in 2022-23 took him to within 47 of Alan Shearer’s all-time competition record of 260. With Kane now bothering Bundesliga defences in 2023-24 and beyond, Shearer’s record looks safe… for now.
Harry Kane 2017-18 (30 goals)
Come the end of a single season, only four players have scored exactly 30 goals in a Premier League season and before this campaign the most recent was Harry Kane for Tottenham Hotspur in 2017-18. In a lot of campaigns that would have brought a Golden Boot with it, but this was Mohamed Salah’s first season at Liverpool and we know exactly how that went.
Kane, as was the style in those days, did not begin his Premier League goalscoring until August had ended, with braces against Everton and West Ham in September getting him up and running. Kane has not scored a Premier League hat-trick since 2017, when he scored two in four days in December, against Burnley and Southampton respectively. A brace on the final day against Leicester took Kane to 30, and it should also be noted that “home” for him this season was Wembley Stadium, as Spurs waited for their new home to be built. Kane followed up this season by winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Russia, so overall it was a more than satisfactory campaign.
Robin van Persie 2011-12 (30 goals)
There was never any doubt about Robin van Persie’s ability with the ball, just his ability to stay fit. Up until the 2011-12 season, van Persie had never managed to play more than 28 league games in any of his seven previous campaigns with Arsenal. In 2011-12 he played all 38 for the Gunners and in 2012-13 he played all 38 for Manchester United, scoring a total of 56 goals in those 76 games. 30 of them came in his final season with Arsene Wenger, with 10% of those coming in a memorable 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge, making van Persie one of only three visiting players to score a Premier League hat-trick away at Chelsea, along with Kanu and Sergio Aguero.
For a long time the Premier League’s top-scoring player with his weaker foot, van Persie scored 12 with his “chocolate” right leg in 2011-12. His final goals in an Arsenal shirt came as a pair against Norwich in May. A year later he was a Premier League champion with Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, something that has not happened again for any of them.
Thierry Henry 2003-04 (30 goals)
This was the only time Thierry Henry reached 30+ Premier League goals but it did come in a run of five successive seasons of 24+ goals so it’s the apotheosis of a period of footballing grace from arguably the competition’s greatest ever player. Add that to the fact that 2003-04 was the season that Arsenal won the title without losing a single game and Henry’s legacy is only enhanced further. The coup de grace was a pair of hat-tricks in the space of a week against Liverpool and Leeds United. The first rescued Arsenal’s unbeaten record and the second made it seem inevitable. Yes, 12 of the final 13 goals of Henry’s 2003-04 came at Highbury but it was a lovely pitch so what exactly do you expect?
Kevin Phillips 1999-00 (30 goals)
The 11th player in this top 10 is Kevin Phillips, whose 1999-2000 season remains the best challenger to Andy Cole’s 1993-94 for goalscoring impact by a promoted player. Cole did it for Newcastle, Phillips did it for Sunderland and in the process scored 16 of his 30 goals away from home. In the 30-year history of the Premier League no other player has ever scored as often past the opposition goalkeeper away from home in a single season. His only hat-trick came on the road, away at Derby and his overall performance earned him not only the Golden Boot – no Englishman would win it again until Harry Kane in 2016 – but also a place in Kevin Keegan’s doomed England squad for Euro 2000. Phillips ended up playing eight more seasons of Premier League football for Sunderland, Southampton, Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Crystal Palace, but would never even post a seasonal tally half of his 30 goals in 1999-00, with his next best coming the season after in 2000-01 at the Black Cats (14 goals).