While football ultimately provokes a vast array of diverse opinions, one thing we can all agree upon is we all love free-kicks – and James Ward-Prowse is a master of them.
The Southampton captain was on target from a dead-ball situation again in their Premier League win at Chelsea, bringing him to within a whisker of equalling a long-standing record held by David Beckham.
For many, perhaps most, Beckham will always be the most definitive set-piece player in Premier League history. However, how close is Ward-Prowse to usurping the Man Utd legend?
How close is James Ward-Prowse to David Beckham free-kicks record?
The Southampton winner at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea was the 17th time that Ward-Prowse had scored direct from a set-piece in the Premier League.
That tally puts him just one behind Beckham’s total of 18 during his brilliant Premier League career for Manchester United.
How does David Ward-Prowse free kick record compare to David Beckham?
While James Ward-Prowse will almost certainly beat Beckham’s record, the Man Utd icon’s status as the Premier League’s top dead ball specialist may not be in doubt.
That is down to the Beckham needing considerably fewer games to get to his tally.
Ward-Prowse’s 17th free-kick goal game in his 328th Premier League appearance. Beckham, meanwhile, played 265 times for Man Utd.
When can James Ward-Prowse beat David Beckham’s record?
Southampton fans will be hoping he can equal it immediately, especially given how important their next game is.
The Saints face Leeds in a relegation six-pointer at Elland Road on Saturday February 25th. They will certainly be hoping he has another one in him this season at least.
Despite the win over Chelsea, Southampton are still rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table and they need all the magic they can get. A free-kick streak from Ward-Prowse would certainly help there.
There is even the possibility of him equalling the record - or beating it - at Old Trafford, where Beckham shone for Man Utd.
Remaining Southampton games this season
Ward-Prowse may have to be patient, though. He has gone an average of 19 games between free-kick goals in his career so far, and if he maintains that then it will be the start of next season when he equals the record.
He would then break it half-way through next season, whether that is with Southampton or someone else if they are unable to save themselves from the drop.
Source : 90min