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Jan 3, 2011

Greaves' goals and hat-trick losers

Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

In the post World War II era, which player (and what was the number of goals) has scored the most league goals in a top-flight English season? James Grenke from Vancouver, Canada asked.

The player was Jimmy Greaves and the season was 1960-61. That was the year Tottenham won the Double and Greaves is their record goalscorer. However, he was a Chelsea player at the time, scoring 41 goals for a team who only finished 12th. Tottenham's title winners scored 115 goals and Greaves' Chelsea managed 98. As they conceded 100, they still finished with a negative goal difference but a season ticket at Stamford Bridge presumably offered good value.

The second highest total in the post-war era is the 38 John Charles managed for Leeds in 1956-57. In the Premier League era, the record is Andy Cole's 34 goals for Newcastle in 1993-94, when the division still included 42 games. The overall record, one that will surely never be beaten, belongs to Everton's Dixie Dean, who scored 60 league goals in 1927-28.

Harry Redknapp has claimed that Spurs can win the league and it got me thinking: which league winner has kept the fewest clean sheets and conceded the most goals? Kah Leong asked.

If history is any guide, Tottenham have some work to do. Despite keeping back-to-back clean sheets against Newcastle and Fulham, they only have three in the league this season (the other was against Manchester City on the opening day). Writing before Spurs' midweek trip to Everton, they have conceded 23 times, which is eight more than the record for an entire season.

In the Premier League era, the fewest shutouts the eventual champions managed was Manchester United's 12 in 1999-2000. That United team also let in the most goals (45) of any winner, but scored 97 times, which rather explains their eventual league position.

However, if we go back before the Premier League started, we can top that. The Sunderland side of 1935-36 (the last Sunderland side to win the league, incidentally) let in 74 goals. As they scored 109, it's safe to assume they were good to watch. Somehow, though, they kept eight clean sheets. The Everton side of 1931-32 kept a mere seven clean sheets (and let in 64 goals), which is the fewest I can find.

What is the most number of goals to have made up a draw? Jonathan Silin from the United States asked.

In British professional history, the record is 6-6, which was equalled by Motherwell and Hibernian in May 2010 in an extraordinary game with a brilliant injury-time equaliser by Lukas Jutkiewicz. There have been two in England: Leicester 6-6 Arsenal in 1930 and Charlton 6-6 Middlesbrough in 1960. The highest-scoring draw in international football is thought to be 5-5, with that scoreline coming most recently in 1999, when Patrick Kluivert scored a hat-trick in a match between Netherlands and Belgium.

Are there any players who are the sole representatives of their country this season or in the history of the Premier League? Ali Al-Habsi of Oman is possibly one but are there any others? Secondly, has there ever been a case of a player scoring a hat-trick or more and yet still not end up on the winning side? Aidil Suffian from Singapore asked.

First of all, you're right about Al-Habsi; the goalkeeper on loan from Bolton to Wigan is the only Omani in Premier League history. There are 13 others who are the lone representatives of their country: Lorik Cana (Albania), Manucho (Angola), Mikele Leigertwood (Antigua), Alexander Hleb (Belarus), Pele (Cape Verde Islands), Mart Poom (Estonia), Gunnar Nielsen (Faroe Islands), Daniel Cousin (Gabon), Tomas Danilevicius (Lithuania), Ruel Fox (Montserrat), Shelton Martis (Netherlands Antilles), Zesh Rehman (Pakistan) and Collins Mbusema (Zambia).

A couple of notes, though: Leigertwood, Fox and Rehman were all born in England, though each qualified for the country he eventually represented. And Pele is a former West Bromwich Albion defender, not a certain Brazilian.

As for the men whose three goals didn't bring a single point: there are Dion Dublin in Coventry's 4-3 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in 1995, Dwight Yorke in Aston Villa's 4-3 defeat to Newcastle in 1996 and Roque Santa Cruz in Blackburn's 5-3 setback at Wigan in 2007, when Marcus Bent scored three times for the winning side.

But the unluckiest of the lot is Matt Le Tissier, who accomplished it twice for Southampton, in 4-3 defeats to Oldham in May 1993 and Nottingham Forest in August 1995.

Being from the Caribbean and CONCACAF, I think one of the most illustrious players from the region may be Dwight Yorke, who won the Treble with Manchester United in 1999. My question is, is Dwight Yorke the first player from CONCACAF to ever win the Champions League? Joel Simmons from Trinidad & Tobago asked.

He was indeed. Since then the Mexican Rafael Marquez has collected two winners' medals with Barcelona in 2006 and 2009, though he only figured in the final on the former occasion. But Yorke was the first from the region to win a final.

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