(Don’t) Feed Nico and He Will Score: Anelka’s Ramadan Goal Rush

Posted on August 23, 2010


Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho courted the ire of some Muslim groups last year when he claimed that he had to substitute Inter midfielder Sully Muntari after 30 mins because he was observing Ramadan.

Divine Intervention? Nicolas Anelka proves fasting footballers can still function at the top-level

Current manager Carlo Ancelotti will be doing no such thing with striker Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman, a convert to Islam who goes by the name of  Bilal, fasts during the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from ingesting all food and drink during the daylit hours. In mid-August this is roughly 15.5 hours a day in the UK.

Over three seasons at Chelsea, a fasting Anelka’s goal to game ratio  is 0.56, compared to 0.34 goals per game over the rest of the season. If a striker is to be judged by his goal return, then Ramadan is a fruitful a time as any for the mercurial French forward. This was proved again by his brace against Wigan Athletic in a 6-0 victory on Saturday.

To be fair to the Premiership’s top-scorer of 08.09, goals haven’t been too hard to come by in a blue-shirt. With the exception of a barren spell in the early part of this year, Anelka’s goals and assists rate have been more than adequate and enough to earn the 31 yr-old a contract extension at Stamford Bridge.

Unfortunately for Mourinho, Sulley Muntari seemed to be suffering, not from the ill-effects of Ramadan, but the more incurable disease of not being very good. The Ghanaian went on to prove this fact month in month out with the Nerazurri last year.