Friday, 29 November 2013


One notable trait of this season so far is the proficiency of several of the league's strikers. Seven of them have already scored seven or more goals with Sergio Aguero leading the way, hitting his tenth against Spurs on Sunday. At the current rate it seems as if as many as ten players (including Aaron Ramsey and maybe Oscar) look like they could theoretically break the twenty goal mark this season. Only two strikers (RVP and Suarez) hit 20+ goals in the league in 2012/13.

The 4-2-3-1 formation has become more and more popular over the past decade. This year has seen a shift back to the old fashioned striker partnerships. Three Premier League strike-pairings account for 60% of this list which would suggest that playing two up front is the way to go, in England at least.

Here are the ten best strikers in the Premier League so far this season.

10 - Rickie Lambert, Southampton
12 games, 4 goals.

Rickie Lambert.. he's going to Brazil

Not exactly the most proficient in terms of individual goal tally, Lambert also has three assists to his name. Southampton are much less reliant on him for goals than other teams are on their front man, they seem to be able to source them from just about anywhere. Lambert's form last season led to an England call up in August. He's held his place in the squad ever since and now looks a good bet to be in Roy Hodgson's final 23 man squad for Brazil next summer. Barring a miraculous and unlikely return to form for Andy Carroll over the next six months.

9 - Robin van Persie, Manchester United
11 games, 7 goals

Robin will have a tough time retaining his Golden Boot

Golden Boot winner for the past two seasons running, the flying Dutchman has seemingly had  a quiet year by comparison. Injury has disrupted his season slightly, he's already missed two games through injury which he'll be disappointed with having played the full 38 for the past two seasons. Nevertheless he's managed seven league goals already, just one less than he had managed at this stage last season.

With all the furore around Rooney this autumn, van Persie's contribution has gone largely unnoticed at some quarters. With United's lack of anything like a goalscoring threat from midfield, van Persie is much more important to his side than Rickie Lambert is to Southampton for instance as he spearheads the attack. Keeping him and Rooney fit and firing is their only hope of avoiding serious mediocrity this season.

8 - Alvaro Negredo, Manchester City
12 games, 5 goals

Negredo has settled in quickly at City

'The Beast of Vallecas' is rapidly becoming a bit of a cult hero at the Etihad having firmly ousted Edin Dzeko from the side with some impressive substitute performances at the beginning of the season and kept the highly rated Stevan Jovetic on the sidelines for the time being.

Negredo, signed for £20m from Sevilla is a monster in the air. That said, City are not using him as a target man as such. They don't play a long ball game. Crosses are City's main entre and he's a menace in the box when it comes to that. His understanding with former Sevilla team-mate Jesus Navas has been obvious. A wonderful header of the ball and brilliant on the ground too. His turn away from Dawson for his goal on Sunday was brilliant. He's formed a partnership with Aguero now which makes City's attack among the most menacing in the world. The way the team is set up suits both of them and the partnership is mutually beneficial. Negredo is a target man, dominant in the air. Aguero uses his electric pace and awareness to thrive off flick ons.

7 - Romelu Lukaku, Everton
8 games, 7 goals

Lukaku gave Agger a torrid time in the derby

Chelsea's strange decision to let Lukaku go on loan again is looking more and more ridiculous with every goal he scores for Everton. While Chelsea struggle to get the best out of an ageing Eto'o and a beyond-redemption Torres, Lukaku is averaging almost a goal a game, his impressive brace in the Merseyside derby nearly  securing immortality amongst Everton fans.

Lukaku's game is constantly maturing. He's not just a target man nor just a physical presence to worry defenders. His link-up play on Saturday was impressive, combining well with Mirallas, Barkley and Deulofeu at times to open up the Liverpool defence and create many chances. His movement provided Daniel Agger with constant worry throughout the games and he although he finished with two goals, it probably should have been more. It's very predictable to compare him to Drogba but this performance was one the Ivorian would have been proud of. It's difficult to see how Mourinho couldn't find a role for him at Chelsea.

6 - Loic Remy, Newcastle
10 games, 8 goals

Remy, still technically a QPR player

Having got their man at the second attempt (albeit only on loan), Loic Remy is busy making up for six months lost off his St James Park career by scoring at an impressive rate. He's played both on the left wing and as the main striker this season. The wing is where he usually plays for France and he's done a good job out the but up top is where he's hit his best form at Newcastle.

His form has been impressive recently with vital goals against Chelsea and Spurs contributing to Newcastle's wonderful run of results. Some of his finishing this season has been amazing, showing just how important confidence is for a striker. Look at his team-mate Papis Cisse who has yet to score in his eleven games this season. Cisse averages only one shot less than Remy per game, but the Frenchman is much more clinical with his and that's why he's first choice for Alan Pardew.

5 - Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
12 games, 7 goals

Giroud has proven himself a fine player, worthy of a place in this Arsenal side

Ask Arsenal fan's who's the player they'd least like to lose to injury. Granted a lot would say Ramsey, Ozil or Flamini, I think Giroud would probably be the most chosen answer. A large part of this is the fact that Niklas Bendtner is his only established deputy for the moment but his game has improved this year and he's now a quality Premier League striker.

To fit into this Arsenal team, you have to be more than just a regular centre forward, a goal poacher. Giroud's link up play with the likes of Ozil and Ramsey has come a long way this season. He's contributed four assists this year, already more than he managed in the whole of the last season. He's more than just a spearheading battering ram of a striker driven by a wealth of attacking talent, he's a part of what is a very fluid Arsenal attack.

Could they find a better fit? Absolutely. But they have Giroud for now and he's doing a fine job. He's not as good technically as they names above him on the list but he does have something Arsenal need in his size. Where his size does come into play is in the air. He's head and shoulders, literally, above his team-mates in terms of aerial prowess. Their only genuine attacking threat in the air.

4 - Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
11 games, 6 goals

Wayne Rooney - MVP

Looking back now it seems unthinkable that many United fans were prepared to lose Rooney during the summer, deeming his latest strop to be the final straw. Only three months after his staying was confirmed, he's now by far the club's most important player and firmly back in the fans good books after a string of impressive and passionate performances.

His season really started in August against then potential suitors Chelsea with a captivating performance. Since then he hasn't dwindled, even when his side went down 4-1 at the Etihad, Rooney still had a good game. Under David Moyes he's gone back to playing in his preferred second striker role rather than the box-to-box central midfield position he was playing around about this time last season. It always has been his best position. I don't think it matters too much who the main striker is. Hernandez, van Persie or van Nistelrooy back in the early days of his United career, Rooney has always worked well playing off a leading striker.

He is yet to commit his long term future to the club, which will be a worry for United fans. If Chelsea had got him this summer, with him in the form he's in, they'd be walking this league right now.

3 - Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
12 games, 9 goals

Sturridge flew the flag well without Suarez for the first 5 games

It's taken him quite a while, and the right club but the younger half of SAS is finally showing the world just how good he is. His form at the start of the season suggested Rodgers may have been wiser to cash in on Suarez. Since the Uruguayan's return, Sturridge has been pushed out of the spotlight slightly but his contribution to Liverpool's cause has not diminished.

Unlike the Negredo and Aguero which is a 'big man/little man' partnership, Suarez and Sturridge are merely two very skillfull and intelligent footballer who naturally have a very good understanding. Sturridge is not a particularly strong player, he's not going to win a lot of aerial match ups with defenders but he's energetic with a good footballing brain so he suits Liverpool's style of play very well. This is the right club for him and his breakout since he joined in January is testimony to that.

The fact that he seemingly isn't guaranteed a place in the England side next summer is utterly ridiculous. I think him and Rooney would be an amazing partnership.

2 - Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
11 games, 10 goals

Aguero is flourishing in a much healthier atmosphere than before

Amazing to think that this is his third season at Manchester City. Aside from his famous goal against QPR, Aguero has never really been a headline-grabber, having spent most of the previous two years in the shade of the mercurial Carlos Tevez and the unpredictable Mario Balotelli. Both of them left for Italy in 2013 and now Aguero is the most talked-about striker at Manchester City. 

He has the kind of technical ability that just isn't seen in English players. I think it was Alan Shearer who coined the phrase 'a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals'. Aguero fits this bill. Adding to his seemingly infinite amount of tap ins from the six yards box this season he also scored an amazing goal out of nothing against Chelsea and one of the best volleys I've ever seen in the derby against United.

Playing off Negredo suits him down to the ground. He likes to run onto flick ons from a big man. I don't think we see the best of him playing up front on his own, certainly not from a goalscoring point of view. He's got six in five games in the Champions League too, a competition where City have really struggled so far in his time at the club, they now look poised to make a real impact on the later stages of this seasons competition.

1 - Luis Suarez, Liverpool
7 games, 9 goals

The King of the Kop once again, Suarez has been immense

It feels strange to be making a list for this blog and not end it by drooling over how good Arsenal are. Instead it's time to marvel at how Luis Suarez has been the best player in the country since his return to the Liverpool side in September.

His first league game back was at Sunderland where he and Sturridge combined brilliantly at times to cut the defence open and score. He wasn't man of the match that day, Sturridge was. Aside from that game, the loss to Arsenal and the recent Merseyside derby, Suarez has been man of the match in every league game he's played this year. He got a hat-trick against West Brom. He should have got another against Fulham and potentially against Crystal Palace. Even in the only games he's failed to score since his return, Newcastle and Arsenal away, he's been a constant menace to defenders and threat in front of goal.

Suarez is an amazing technical footballer. His dribbling at speed and close control is a joy to watch at times. He's probably the best finisher in the league and what impresses me the most is how he can unleash such a powerful shot from virtually standing still at times. It's a cliche, but he's about as unplayable as Premier League strikers come.

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