United we stand
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In our first statistical review of 2010, FIFA.com pays tribute to two Uniteds, Leeds and ESCOM, as well as highlighting the oustanding achievements of Real Mallorca, Didier Drogba and Kris Boyd.

158

goals had been enough to preserve Henrik Larsson’s status as the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer for five-and-a-half years. That was until Kris Boyd smashed the Swede’s record with a five-goal haul in Rangers’ 7-1 win over Dundee United last Wednesday to take his own top-flight tally to 160. The prolific 26-year-old also became the first player to have scored five goals in two separate SPL matches, having previously achieved this feat in 2004 for former club Kilmarnock; ironically, against Dundee United. Yet although this modern day marksman has set a new benchmark in the Premier League, which was founded in 1998, the overall record in Scotland’s top flight still belongs to the peerless Jimmy McGrory. The Celtic legend’s tally of 410 goals from 408 league appearances is all but certain never to be surpassed, while the 550 he amassed in all competitions between 1921 and 1937 remains a British record.

80

years: that was how long it had been since a third-tier side had beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford when Leeds United arrived at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday. Ninety minutes later, the visitors were celebrating one of the greatest upsets in the history of the world’s oldest cup competition after ending the Red Devils’ record streak of 24 successive wins in the FA Cup third round. It was the first time United had ever fallen at the first hurdle under Sir Alex Ferguson, and marked their first home defeat to a third-flight team since Swindon Town emerged with a 2-0 win on 11 January 1930.

22

games this season and no losses have left ESCOM United with the longest unbeaten streak in world football. This impressive sequence has not, however, been enough to put the Malawian outfit in pole position for the Super League title. Instead, reigning champions Silver Strikers – who have lost four games during the same period - lead the table by four points due to the fact that their rivals have drawn 11 of those 22 games without defeat. Yet if ESCOM face a mixed outlook, their situation is certainly infinitely preferable to that of one of another of Malawi's clubs. With 18 successive reverses, Nkhata Bay United have the longest losing streak in any of the 185 leagues analysed, leaving them eight points adrift with a goal difference of minus-73.

8

wins from eight is the outstanding home record that has taken Real Mallorca to fourth position in La Liga. Los Barralets have surprised everyone with their outstanding start to the season and, if history is anything to go by, they could be destined for Europe’s premier competition. After all, since the Spanish top flight acquired four UEFA Champions League berths, every La Liga team that won their first eight home fixtures went on to qualify for this lucrative continental tournament. The all-time record for successive home wins is held by Real Madrid, who won every one of their 17 fixtures at the Bernabeu in the 1985/86 season. This season also sees Los Merengues unblemished in Madrid, although they are being kept at bay by a Barcelona side who have now made their best-ever start to a Liga season, having extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches.

7

goals in his last six internationals is the ominous record with which Didier Drogba goes into the CAF African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on Sunday. The Chelsea striker, who also sits joint-top of the English Premier League scoring charts, is sure to be one of the star attractions at the African showpiece, with his overall record of 41 goals in 61 appearances underlining his worth to Côte d'Ivoire’s cause. However, while bookmakers have installed them as favourites, Les Elephants will know only too well that the pitfalls that await them in this competition. After all, they have won the Cup of Nations only once in 26 attempts - and that 18 years ago - while rivals Ghana and Cameroon have four titles apiece and defending champions Egypt lead the way with six.