Familiar faces and legends under threat
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FIFA.com’s latest stats review will make grim reading for the likes of Klaus Fischer, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Alan Shearer and Gerd Muller, whose records were dented over the past week by Messrs Huntelaar, Van Persie and Messi. Also in focus are the end of Boca Juniors’ long unbeaten run and the ever-expanding tally of draws at Juventus.

95

minutes was the time at which Thomas Vermaelen scored Arsenal’s latest-ever winning goal in the Premier League at the climax of Monday’s 2-1 victory over Newcastle United. The never-say-die spirit that prompted the Belgian’s lung-busting late surge forward has also led to the Gunners setting a new record by becoming the first side to come from behind to win in four consecutive Premier League matches. And while Vermaelen’s was its most dramatic goal, Monday’s encounter also witnessed the 26th strike of Robin van Persie’s league campaign, one ahead of the previous highest-scoring Dutchman, Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002/03. The overall single-season record of 34 is held jointly by Andy Cole (1993/94) and Alan Shearer (1994/95), while Cristiano Ronaldo – with 31 in the 2007/08 season – holds the highest tally for a player from outside the British Isles. It was also a week to remember for another foreign marksman, Didier Drogba, who scored his 100th Premier League goal, becoming the first African to reach this impressive milestone.

50

goals in 43 matches, an average of one every 74 minutes, have enabled Lionel Messi to become only the second player to reach the half-century mark in two successive seasons. The first was Gerd Muller, who scored 50 for Bayern Munich in the 1971/72 season and followed that up with 55 the next year. Even by his own standards, Messi is enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment, having accumulated 16 goals in his last six appearances for club and country. He has also become the first player in one of Europe’s major leagues to score 30-plus goals for three successive seasons since Alan Shearer in 1996. This is in addition to producing an astonishing five-goal show against Bayer Leverkusen last Wednesday, a UEFA Champions League first that enabled the little Argentinian to equal Van Nistelrooy’s single-season record of 12 in Europe’s elite competition.

36

matches without defeat and six straight shutouts were the sequences that came to a spectacular end for Boca Juniors last week. Having remained unbeaten since April of last year, the Buenos Aires giants finally succumbed in a 2-1 home defeat to Brazil’s Fluminense in the Copa Libertadores last Wednesday. However, if that result raised eyebrows, Sunday’s encounter with Independiente sent shockwaves reverberating through Argentinian football. Their opponents had, after all, scored just once and lost all four of their prior Clausura fixtures, while Boca - whose triumphant Apertura campaign was built on a goals against tally of six - were unbeaten and had yet to concede. No-one, therefore, saw El Rojo winning - and certainly not by five goals to four.

34

goals is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s contribution to Schalke’s season thus far, enabling the Dutchman to equal a club record set 35 years ago by Klaus Fischer. Nor is this the only Fischer record currently under threat, with Mario Gomez having scored his 11th Bundesliga hat-trick over the weekend, leaving him one short of the former Schalke and Cologne star’s final tally of trebles. Gomez, however, has little hope of catching the overall leader in this respect, with the aforementioned Gerd Muller having finished his career with an astonishing 32 Bundesliga hat-tricks. The current Bayern predator did, though, succeed in surpassing former team-mate Miroslav Klose in the league’s all-time scoring charts, and now leads by 122 to 121. For another Germany international striker, the past week brought a less welcome milestone, with Lukas Podolski picking up his first red card in 202 top-flight appearances. He was one of three players dismissed in Cologne’s 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin, a tally which left the match two short of the Bundesliga record of five set in an encounter between Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Dresden on 1 September 1993.

14

Serie A stalemates, including four in succession, have left Juventus with more draws than wins this season. Sunday’s trip to Genoa ended in a 0-0 deadlock, leaving Juve needing just three more draws to equal the club record of 17 for a single season (1955/56), although still some way short of Mantova’s overall record of 22 from 1966/67. One team with no such problems are Napoli, who won their fifth league match on the bounce, their best sequence since 1988, by beating Cagliari 6-3 – the first nine-goal match in Serie A since May 2005. There was relief too for Inter Milan, who ended their 572-minute wait for a goal in a 2-0 win at Chievo.