Elsewhere on this site you can read about the Premier League season that saw the most goals scored. Here we’re looking at the opposite, concentrating on the top-flight campaign that saw the fewest goals netted. Scoring is an important attribute, making the Premier League one of the most exciting divisions in world football. It is what makes strikers such expensive commodities in the transfer market, but it is also why defenders and goalkeepers cost so much money. The ability to stop a team from finding the back of the net can win you matches and titles.
There is an old adage in the Premier League that it is defences that win you titles, given that scoring goals is all well and good but become pointless if you just concede loads too. When Liverpool went up against Manchester City for the title during the 2013-2014 season, they scored just one goal fewer than the eventual champions, but conceded 50 times compared to City’s 37, missing out by two points. Sometimes, the Premier League collectively scores fewer goals than in other campaigns, which is what we’re looking at here, focussing on those seasons with fewer goals scored.
Quick Answer: What Was the Lowest Scoring Premier League Season?
The lowest scoring Premier League season between 1992-93 and 2022-23 was in 2006-07 when just 931 goals were scored by the 20 teams, an average of 2.45 goals per game.
The next lowest scoring season with 942 goals was in 2008/09, followed by the 944 goals scored during the 2005-06 season, both averaged 2.48 goals per game.
Breaking Down The Seasons
Here is a look at the Premier League seasons between the launch of the ‘new’ division in 1992 and 2023. We have taken a look at how many goals were scored each season, as well as the number of games played. We have then worked out the average number of goals scored per game, with the idea being that this is arguably the most important statistic. Given that some seasons had 462 games played and others had 380, it is obvious that the seasons with more games played will have seen more goals scored, with the average number of goals per game being the more accurate statistic. Please note that we have a full table of the goals by season on our page regarding the most goals scored in a Premier League season.
We have looked at 31 seasons in total. During that time, 11,564 games were played and 32,072 goals were scored. That works out as an average of 2.77 goals scored per game of the Premier League era that we’re looking at. In total, there were 21 seasons that saw a lower average goals per game scored than 2.77. The ten lowest averages had 2.60 goals per game on average or less across the season. The least number of goals were scored during the 2006-07 campaign with 931, averaging out at 2.45 goals per game.
The Season With The Fewest Goals Scored
Now that we know both the total number of goals scored in each of the Premier League seasons that we’re looking at and the average number of goals scored per match in each season, we can take a closer look at the exact campaign in which the fewest goals were scored. Whilst all three of the seasons in which 462 games were played have lower average goals than the overall average for the Premier League during the time period we’re investigating, none of them were as low for goals as the 2006-2007 campaign. Only 2005-2006 and 2008-2009 even come close.
The 2006-2007 top-flight season saw Manchester United win their ninth Premier League title, wrestling it away from the London clubs. They won the title in 2002-2003, then saw Arsenal win it the year after and Chelsea win it in both 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. United conceded 34 times when they won it, with the Gunners letting in 26 goals a year later. Chelsea, though, conceded just 15 times on their way to their first title of the Premier League era, then let in 22 goals next time out. It was the age of being defensively solid, with the Red Devils conceding 27 as they reclaimed their title.
Even as United were tightening up at the back, it wasn’t good enough to be the best defence in the league, with Chelsea once again managing that thanks to 24 goals conceded. Liverpool had also become much more defensively solid under Spaniard Rafa Benitez, letting in the same number of goals as the eventual champions but scoring 26 goals fewer. It is perhaps no surprise, considering the manner in which Chelsea made defensive solidity so important in the previous years, that the 2006-2007 campaign is the one with the fewest goals scored during the period we’re looking at.
There were four teams that were attempting to be part of the title conversation, with the most goals conceded by any of them being the 35 that Arsenal let in. To give you a sense of where that sits in Premier League history, up to that point the champion had conceded more than 35 goals in six of the seasons that had been played and had conceded exactly 35 goals once. In other words, the teams going for the title realised that they needed to be defensively solid first and foremost, adding goals to that as the seasons progressed in order to strike the perfect balance.
Chelsea were the perfect examples of that, going 14 games without losing, with eight of those games seeing them not concede and two of them being 0-0 draws. They won nine games that season 1-0, which is the perfect scoreline for a team looking to win matches involving the fewest goals possible. For their part, champions United won 15 games to nil, also being involved in a 0-0 draw and three 1-0 defeats. If you want a season that sums up keeping things tight in defence then the 2006-2007 campaign might just be the one that is the quintessential example for the teams at the top.