West Ham, James Ward-Prowse's free-kick record, football
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Ward-Prowse can match Beckham record after West Ham move

| 14.08.2023

James Ward-Prowse’s move to West Ham gives him a fresh chance to match a Premier League record set by David Beckham.

The former Southampton captain has scored 17 goals directly from free-kicks in the competition, just one behind the competition’s highest tally set by former England skipper Beckham in his Manchester United days.

Here we take an in-depth look at Ward-Prowse’s free-kick record.

World class

Former Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has called the England midfielder “for sure one of the best in the world in this part of the game” and Ward-Prowse has the free-kick numbers to back up that assessment.

Since his first Premier League season, the only player to score more free-kick goals in Europe’s “big five” leagues is a certain Lionel Messi – albeit with a distant 35 – and Ward-Prowse has accelerated in recent seasons.

Beckham’s record Premier League tally also includes a single-season high of five in 2000-01 – matched the following season by Newcastle’s Laurent Robert – and though Ward-Prowse has yet to match that mark he has twice finished within one.

He was not an immediate set-piece contributor, scoring two free-kicks in his first four Premier League seasons – both against West Brom, at home in January 2016 and at the Hawthorns in February 2018.

He scored two a week apart in March 2019, at Old Trafford and then at home to Tottenham, to signal the start of his emergence and then netted home and away against Watford in the 2019-20 season.

His first run at Beckham and Robert’s season record came in 2020-21, sparked by two free-kick goals in the same game away to Aston Villa on November 1. He scored similar goals against both Beckham and Robert’s former clubs, home to Manchester United later in November and at St James’ Park in February, but was unable to find another to match their record.

The following season brought another near miss as he scored at Crystal Palace in December, Wolves in January and Leeds and Brighton in April.

Fulham, Everton and Chelsea were on the receiving end of his trademark strikes last term and the Hammers have given him the chance to add the one he still needs to match Beckham.

On the road

The widespread perception in football may be that home teams are more likely to benefit from referees’ decisions but Ward-Prowse, like Beckham before him, has scored the majority of his free-kicks away from home.

Indeed, just four came at St Mary’s – only one more free-kick than Beckham scored at Southampton in his Premier League career, though two of his three came at their former home the Dell.

Beckham also scored two against each of Leicester, West Ham and Everton, while Ward-Prowse has made West Brom, Watford, Villa and Manchester United repeat victims.

Ward-Prowse has 49 Premier League goals in total from 343 appearances, also including 13 penalties, with the remaining 19 coming from open play.

Beckham’s overall Premier League record was 62 goals in 265 games, with just two spot-kicks along the way.

Beckham and Ward-Prowse are well clear of their nearest competition, with the third-placed total of 12 shared by Gianfranco Zola, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The other players to reach double figures for Premier League free-kick goals are Robert and Sebastian Larsson, with 11 each, and Ian Harte and Morten Gamst Pedersen with 10.

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Andrew McDermott

Andrew is a sports betting content journalist at PA Media. He is a lifelong Huddersfield Town fan but when he isn't reminiscing about their Premier League days he is also a junior cricket coach and enjoys cycling.