So far this season in the Premier League there have been goals.
A lot of them. 6-1s, 8-2s, and a 5-3 as well, with Manchesters City and United, Arsenal and Chelsea all involved. And Tottenham have been both on the end of and dishing out a 5-1 and 4-0 respectively against Champions League rivals.
Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, Fernando Torres, Emmanuel Adebayor and Luis Suarez have all been at the forefront of the action, and an honourable mention to Demba Ba is due as well. So who is the league’s best striker?
The Manchester United forward has been one the best players in the league for years now. Breaking onto the scene as a 16 year old, Rooney combines superb technique with a traditionally English spirit and physical presence, posing a nightmare for defenders. Blessed with footballing intelligence beyond his years, Rooney can see the game develop and is often one step ahead of opposition defenders, making him a nightmare to mark. Will rarely miss chances and is lethal in big games. His major weakness is his short fuse.
Robin van Persie
The Dutchman has been flying all year, having scored more goals in the Premier League than games he has played in. His injury record has been his main problem over the years, and he has curbed what has sometimes been a tendency to lose his temper in the past. Now Arsenal captain, he leads by example, and has a superb free kick. His left foot is lethal, and his technique is probably the best of the Premier League forwards, with his skill and close control beguiling.
Dzeko has been a revelation this season after a slow start to life at Eastlands (now the Etihad), but his physical power and technique make him another player with the perfect blend of skills required to succeed in the Premier League. A good finisher in the air or on the ground, his finishing is lethal and has helped City to their unbeaten start to the new campaign. Despite the heroics of some team mates, he has been the key goal getter.
Aguero hit the ground running immediately on his debut with a brace against Swansea in a spectacular performance. Aguero has been on the scene for some years now and was a star at the age of just 15, coming over to Europe with Atletico Madrid. The Argentine is slight but he is tough, and his close control and superb finishing make him lethal inside the penalty area. Almost single handedly beat Barcelona when Atletico won against the Catalans 4-3 a few years ago, and his technique and skill arguably put him ahead of Rooney and Dzeko.
Adebayor is a frustrating player for any manager, except Harry Redknapp it seems. He hit the ground running very quickly for Arsenal when he moved to England from Monaco, but after a superb season in 2007-8, he lost his motivation after a huge pay rise. A similar problem faced him at Man City, whom he was excellent for when motivated, but sadly, the Togolose forward seems to struggle to motivate himself after the initial honeymoon period is over with the clubs he plays for. Spurs wisely took him only on loan, and though he is the perfect modern centre forward in many ways, with awesome technique, a big strong physical presence and a lethal finisher, as well as the ability to pass and create, Adebayor is an enigma.
Suarez was the best player this summer at the Copa America, and his lively running and creativity have been a feature of Liverpool’s play. He is constantly creating chances, though frustratingly, he also misses quite a few. But his contribution to Uruguay’s third place at the World Cup last year and Copa America triumph this, mean he is the forward on this list who has achieved most on the big stage in recent times. Superb technique and skill, combined with his energy and work rate, show that brains trump brawn, even in the hurly burly of the Premier League.
Torres has struggled of late but his class cannot be ignored. At his best, he is not too dissimilar from Thierry Henry, except a better header of the ball. He plays best with the ball played in front of him, and is not comfortable receiving it with his back to goal, as this does not get the best out of him. When given the service, his finishing, pace and skill are too much for Premier League defenders, and Chelsea are still learning how to use him correctly to get the best out of the Spaniard. On his day arguably still the best forward in the league.
Choosing between these forwards is like selecting a fine Bordeaux wine. They all offer something slightly different, but you know whichever choice you make is going to be first class. The Premier League has been lit up by these players, as well as their chief creators at their respective clubs (David Silva, Luka Modric and Aaron Ramsey). And ultimately, despite the fun had in comparing these players, football is a team game. Van Persie, Rooney, Dzeko and co. would be nothing without the 10 men around them. But a team looking to be successful needs someone of the standard and calibre of the players above if they are to hope to win trophies.