Which Premier League club has the strongest strikeforce?
The Premier League last season was dominated by strikers, as the malaise on the overall standard of defenders continues. With Robin van Persie’s move to Manchester United from Arsenal perhaps tipping the balance of power back towards Ferguson’s side, it’s worth taking a look at the main contenders to see which club currently operating has the best strikeforce on show?
Firstly, let’s set some ground rules, otherwise we’ll resort simply to a ‘he’s better than him’ debate, which is all rather reductive and boring. This is in no way scientific, so feel free to chew the fat in the comment section below and I’m also discounting creative midfielders and wingers simply because they are not what you would term conventional strikers, so there’s no place for Hatem Ben Arfa, Juan Mata or Santi Cazorla I’m afraid, despite their obvious talent.
The criteria are – first-choice starters, back-up, variance to their attack, impact and pedigree. So without further ado, let’s get the ball rolling.
Manchester City are the first club that springs to mind, having won the league title last term and containing the likes of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko within their squad. Aguero and Tevez are the first-choice pairing for the club and they’ve struck up a wonderful partnership in recent months, so we’ll give them 9/10 as they’re comparable to any in the rest of Europe.
When it comes to back-up, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko are also formidable, with the Italian striking a double in the semi-final of Euro 2012 to knock Germany out, while Dzeko struck 14 times in the league last term despite not being first-choice, so we’ll give them 9/10 again. The variance is there, with Dzeko the big man, Aguero and Tevez the small, intricate forwards and Balotelli somewhere in between, so again, 9/10.
In terms of pedigree, Balotelli, Dzeko, Tevez and Aguero are all recognised players at international level and have experience of European competition – none have set either alight just yet, though, so 8/10 for that one. The impact of Tevez had transformed City as club laying the groundwork for future star players to follow, while Aguero’s record is exceptional despite only being in England a year – Balotelli and Dzeko have been somewhat more inconsistent, but they’ve scored goals in big games that helped them clinch the title last term, which at the end of the day, is what it’s all about, so we’ll mark them a brave and bold 10/10 for that – for those of you counting in the back, that’s an overall score of 45/50.
To Stamford Bridge next and the club’s three recognised strikers, one of which is out on loan, are Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku. The £50m Spaniard is the first-choice man in a 4-2-3-1 system, but a record of just 13 goals in 69 games, only seven of which have come in the league is quite frankly very poor, so 3/10 for him.
The back-up of Daniel Sturridge is decent, and this could all change soon, with the club reported to be chasing both Edinson Cavani and Hulk at the moment too, but there’s not much depth to speak of at the moment. The England international spent most of last term out wide on the right and despite an excellent first half of the campaign, faded badly, so we’ll give him a 5/10, given that Lukaku is out on loan at West Brom.
When it comes to variance, Sturridge is certainly different to Torres, relying on his pace more than positioning and sharply timed runs, so 6/10 for that, although it would be more if the big Belgian were still at the club. Impact at the club, having lost the hugely experienced Didier Drogba at the end of last season also comes in for a battering, with just 4/10. Pedigree is almost entirely weighted on to Torres, and despite his struggles, he’s a World Cup, Champions League and double European Championship winner, so in that regard, along with Sturridge, they get a 9/10 – a grand total of 27/50 for a club in a period of undoubted transition.
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