Zlatan: G-Old-en boots?

With his goal on Sunday in the 3-0 win over Leicester City, Zlatan Ibrahimovic claimed another record for himself. That was his 15th league goal for the season, making him the oldest player to score that many in a single campaign. Following his move from Paris in the summer, I am sure a number of people outside of Old Trafford questioned whether he would have the same impact in the Premier League as he did in France. Some may have questioned that if, at 35 he was able to keep up with the pace of the league. Well, having played in over 2,070 minutes already this season, we now know the answer.

Right from the start of the season Zlatan found the net in his first three league games, making him the first United player to do so. After a slight barren spell of seven league games without scoring, he has since scored 10 in 13. Where ever he has gone Zlatan has scored goals. In his thirteen seasons since 2004/05, he has only scored fewer than 15 goals twice.

He now is on course to go down in history as having the best strike rate for a player older than 32 to have played at least ten games. At a rate of 0.65 goals per game he has overtaken Jurgen Klinsmann and will take the record if he continues in this vein of form. The German striker scored 9 in 15 games giving him a strike rate of 0.6 goals per game. Heidar Helguson (8 in 16) and Ian Wright (50 in 101) are third. The only player still active on this list of great aging strikers is Jermain Defoe. With a rate of 33 goals in 74, he is on 0.45 goals per game so is currently unlikely to catch up with the imposing Swede.

If he can continue to score at the same rate, Zlatan is on course to find the net another nine times in the remaining 14 games. His goals have been vital in United’s recent upturn in form and if he can carry this through to the end then a top four finish will be entirely possible. February will really define the season for the Old Trafford side. A win against Watford at the weekend could see the side move closer to a top four finish. That is the final league game until March. Instead it is a Europa League knock out ties against Saint-Etienne either side of Blackburn in the FA Cup. The month finishes at Wembley and the League Cup Final. With the Red Devils still competing on four fronts, having a reliable goal scorer who can both finish and create is crucial. Couple that with the increasingly resilient defence, United could become a force from the start next season.