LiveScore's five Premier League set-piece kings

Matthew Hill
LiveScore
20/01/202213:00
James Ward-Prowse is among the best free-kick takers in the Premier League
James Ward-Prowse is among the best free-kick takers in the Premier League

Southampton went down 3-1 to Wolves last weekend — but James Ward-Prowse’s stunning free-kick still dominated the headlines.

The 27-year-old has long boasted a fine reputation for his dead-ball ability and the 30-yard thunderbolt which whistled past the hapless Jose Sa was a timely reminder of his quality.  

That strike was the Saints midfielder's 12th direct free-kick Premier League goal — a haul bettered only by David Beckham, who scored 18.

So is Ward-Prowse the best set-piece taker in the Premier League? 

We crunched some key numbers from the last two seasons of domestic action to establish the division’s five most efficient executors.

5. Raphinha (Leeds)

Leeds forward Raphinha has quickly established himself as one of the Premier League’s most dynamic attackers — and his set-piece ability is pretty spectacular too.

The Brazilian drilled home a low free-kick against Southampton last February and more recently bent a rasping strike beyond Kasper Schmeichel in November’s 1-1 draw with Leicester.

He was also unlucky not to add to his tally further last weekend, crashing what would have been a goal of the season contender against the post with West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski completely stranded.

The 25-year-old had already showcased his ability to provide earlier in that contest by planting a corner straight on to the head of Luke Ayling, who flicked on for hat-trick hero Jack Harrison to nudge home.

An unselfish operator who also possesses an eye for the spectacular, defences should be on red alert when the Whites’ No10 is standing over a dead ball.

4. Pascal Gross (Brighton)

Brighton's Pascal Gross is one of the Premier League's most accurate corner takers
Brighton's Pascal Gross is one of the Premier League's most accurate corner takers

A surprising entrant in our list, Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross may not be a name who springs to mind when talking about set-piece specialists — but his numbers certainly do the talking.

Though the German does not have any direct free-kicks to his name across the last two campaigns, he has proven himself to be one of the division’s most efficient crossers from a dead ball.

Since the start of 2020-21, Gross has accurately delivered 61 of his 205 corners giving him a 30% success rate — a percentage only bettered by two players — and is operating at a whopping 39% this term.

Playing for a side who target a neat, possession-based style, Gross does not reap the rewards of his deliveries as much as he would in a more physical side but he has still done his fair share of damage.

Burnley, Southampton, Wolves and Watford have all been undone by the 30-year-old’s deliveries, making Gross a valuable weapon for one of the league’s lowest-scoring sides.

3. Mason Mount (Chelsea)

It can be hard to establish yourself as the designated set-piece taker in a squad as star-studded as Chelsea’s — but Thomas Tuchel would be well advised to leave Mason Mount in charge.

The Blues midfielder, 23, has laid on seven assists from set-pieces since the start of last season domestically, including three corners since mid-December.

That recent burst ties in with Mount’s expected assists (xA) statistics increasing each season since breaking into the Chelsea first XI.

Indeed, he has delivered 21 more accurate corners than Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold since the start of 2020-21 despite taking nine less, perhaps suggesting he should be the man on duty for England in Qatar this winter.

However, despite netting them regularly early in his career, Mount is without a goal direct from a free-kick since the final day of the 2019-20 campaign — something he will be desperate to improve on.

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a wonderful free-kick against West Ham earlier this season
Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a wonderful free-kick against West Ham earlier this season

Mohamed Salah is the Premier League’s most prolific scorer but the Egyptian has been forced to bow down to 23-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold in the set-piece department at Anfield.

The Reds academy product has a wand of a right boot and has recently started to translate his prolific open-play assist record across to dead-ball situations in devastating fashion.

Corners against Southampton and Brentford this season have been headed home by Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho, while a beautiful deep free-kick put a goal on a plate for Sadio Mane against Arsenal.

And while Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham was one of their most frustrating performances of the campaign, travelling fans did get to enjoy a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick from their hometown hero.

Considering his age and current trajectory, Alexander-Arnold looks certain to be causing carnage from dead balls for many years to come.

1. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

When considering all the different variables, there can only be one winner — Ward-Prowse is officially LiveScore’s set-piece king.

The Saints star has taken more shots from direct free-kicks than anyone else over the last two campaigns (32) yet the percentage of those which work the keeper (34%) is still only bettered by Kevin De Bruyne.

Ward-Prowse crushes the Belgian in terms of conversion however, having seen six of his strikes hit the net in a period where the Manchester City star has failed to score a single one.

His team-mates benefit from his brilliance too, with nobody laying on more direct assists from set-pieces than the 27-year-old's nine over the last 18 months.

In this department, the Saints No8 is untouchable.

Tags

Premier LeagueLeeds UnitedBrighton & Hove AlbionLiverpoolChelseaSouthampton

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