Forwards, how can you score more goals?

All forward players have periods where it feels like they’ll never score again. All you want is one simple tap in to get you back up and running again, but the ball just isn’t falling in the right position for you. The ball gets delivered in to the area and it falls to someone else, or spins away from you.

All you need is once chance and you’ll get your game back on track; feeling confident again, confident that you’ll kick on and score more goals.

But it’s just not happening.

So you continue to keep working harder and harder, trying your very best to get that one goal that will open the floodgates for you.

This is something that all forwards out there deal with. The sheer frustration of not having the ball fall in the right place for you, with the final whistle blowing without another goal, can be demoralising to say the least.

But all is not lost.

There is hope and there are definitely things that forwards can do to get themselves back on track. Everyone experiences these moments, even the very best in world football, but there are ways to help you get out of it, turning the corner to more confident goal scoring performances.

Currently, one of the best goal scorers in Premier League history, Sergio Aguero is going through a tough time. This is largely because of injury and quarantine due to Covid. He’s only managed to play five times in the Premier League this season, three of those appearances as a substitute. Aguero isn’t necessarily in a position where he just can’t score, he’s been very unfortunate with injuries, but when he gets back to playing there is a chance that he may not be flying high with confidence.

He’s a proven goal scorer, with 180 in the Premier League, the fourth highest in Premier League history. So he knows what he is doing in front of goal.

Sergio Agüero
Sergio Agüero, one of the Premier League’s greatest goalscorers.

There is one main thing that he will focus on, something that all strikers should do when they are going through a tough time in front of goal.

That is staying within the width of the area.

How many times have you been going through a goal drought and thought that you need to work even harder, putting yourself in a position to drag yourself out of this situation? The attitude and focus to do that is great but at times, working so hard, chasing the ball down in areas far away from the goal, isn't as beneficial to you as you may think.

If you can stay within the width of the area more then you become a lot closer to the goal. If the ball does take a bounce into the space there is much more chance that you will be there to capitalise on that.

Dropping back into midfield to get on the ball, or chasing down the left winger, are all very good, giving you a chance to be involved in the game but if you are a forward you’re the focal point of the team. It’s best to be in a position closer to the goal.

Dropping into midfield means that you are now becoming a creator, giving yourself less chances to score a goal. Sometimes, when you’re going through these droughts. It’s best to be patient, calmly positioning yourself in the areas where you are going to be the most effective.

This by no means is saying that you shouldn’t work hard; work as hard as you possibly can but do that work as much as you can within the width of the penalty area. The top strikers realise this and put themselves in some great positions.

Watching Manchester United of late has shown just this. Their two strikers, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani, are both going through a slow season in terms of their goal output, Martial with 7 and Cavani 6. However there are clear opposites in their movement and behaviour.

Martial has been dropping out wide, coming short to the ball and moving himself out of position, away from the penalty area. In these areas he isn’t a threat to goal, he may be getting on the ball more but he’s not doing enough of what he is in the team for, scoring goals. Plenty of times this season the ball has been played in the corridor of uncertainty, between the last defender and goalkeeper. Martial, playing as the number 9, should be doing all he can to attack that ball, getting a simple tap in. However, he has struggled because he’s dropped deep and wide too much, meaning that when the ball comes in to the box, he is just not there.

Cavani, on the other hand, has scored less, although he has played less than Martial. The difference between the two is Cavani’s movement. He doesn’t drop deep into the midfield area too often, or look to receive the ball out wide. He quite regularly stays within the width of the penalty area. When that ball does come into the area he is there, ready to pounce.

His movement within the width of the area allows him to get into the box when the ball is delivered. This is a huge reason why he has scored over 350 goals in his professional career.

So if you’re a striker having a tough time, simplify your game. Try and keep within the width of the area as much as you can. When you do, you are going to be much closer to the opposition's penalty area. Any loose ball and you have a much better chance of getting there first.

The very best go through these situations, even someone of the quality such as Agüero, but he will get out of the goal drought and he will do that by doing the majority of his work within the width of the penalty area. You don’t have to be in the box to do this work but if you can stay within the lines of the edge of the area then you are going to have a much better opportunity to score more goals.