Almost half of the Premier League season has been played. There have been some very good goals, some very lucky goals, some consistent play and some flashes of brilliance from Premier League strikers. How do we separate them? With statistics of course. Here I take a look at the strikers for the current top 7 clubs, their importance to their respective teams and whether they are actually performing to their expected level.
An awful lot has been made of Arsenal’s season in the press. They’ve gone from being miles out of the title race to being back in to being taken out once more. They’ve consistently been labelled a ‘one man team.’ Personally, I deteste the phrase and will not stoop to using it on this occasion. The fact of the matter is that Newcastle are far more reliant on Demba Ba to score their goals than Arsenal are on Robin Van Persie.
In Robin Van Persie, Arsenal have a world class striker. he is currently the Premier League’s top goalscorer and is one of the best players in the world. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Van Persie is their one and only out and out scorer which is effectively where Arsenal’s title bid has faltered. Addressing this issue in the summer will probably suffice for Arsene Wenger, whose team should not fail to finish in a top 4 Champions League spot this term.
Chelsea have probably had the most recognised strikers in their squad this season. There has been a constant dilemma for Andre Villas-Boas in which striker to pick; Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba. The stats suggest he should pick neither. The stats would also suggest that Danny Sturridge is the only real reason as to why Chelsea find themselves still in the top 4, a lofty compliment for the young Englishman.
Chelsea’s struggle this season coincides with the fact that their main strikers are also struggling. Since Nicolas Anelka has now left the club, Chelsea only have the 4 aforementioned strikers plus the relatively unused Romelu Lukaku. One, or possibly two, will have to find form for Chelsea to mount a serious challenge come the dying embers of the season.
Liverpool’s lack of goals this season has been very noticable. They have scored the least amount of goals out of the top 7 clubs. Liverpool’s chance conversion rate is also the lowest out of the top 7 clubs 8%. The chance conversion rate of Liverpool’s 2 ‘best’ strikers is even lower. Effectively, Liverpool’s lack of quality in front of goal has put them out of contention in the race for the title; a race in which after spending in excess of £100million over the past year, they were billed by fans and the media alike to have a major say.
Luis Suarez is Liverpool’s top league goalscorer with just 5. With Luis Suarez facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, likely to miss 8 games through suspension, Liverpool will need to delve into the transfer market or hope another striker or a midfielder chips in with a few more goals. They may however find themselves better served playing Craig Bellamy more as his statistics better that of the other 2 despite not featuring too often this season.
Manchester City have without doubt the most fearsome striker force in the Premier League. The statistics indicate that manager Roberto Mancini must have a real headache in picking his strikers. Statistically, not much distinguishes one striker from the others however having 3 of the best strikers in the Premier League is one selection dilemma which I’d welcome as a manager.
Despite being an expensive strikeforce, they all seem to be justifying their price tag. When compared to other strikers in the league, you’d be hard pushed to find many better. If each of these strikers can keep their form throughout the season, Manchester City will be a force to be reckoned with come the end of May.
The red half of Manchester have equalled City’s points tally after 18 games of the season. Although Manchester United have not scored as many goals as Manchester City, they have scored quite a substantial amount. Wayne Rooney has been their man in front of goal this season so far this season and finds himself being the 3rd top goalscorer in the league despite playing a number of games in the centre of midfield.
Dimitar Berbatov hasn’t played too often this season so a goal and a hatrick in his last 2 appearances probably explains why Dimitar Berbatov has the best minutes per goal statistic from all the strikers at the top 7 clubs however with such form, he may find himself being used more often than he has been previously.
At some point in the season, injury has affected all 4 of Manchester United’s strikers however with that seemingly behind each of them it looks like they can kick on and get a few more goals. What’s been missing this season for some of United’s rivals has certainly not been lacking for Manchester United. With 4 top class strikers in good form, Manchester United can keep up the fight with City and will find themselves in a good position to contend for the title at the end of the season.
I wrote about my dislike of the phrase ‘one man team’ earlier, however if ever there was a time where this phrase was adequate, it would probably be applied here. Demba Ba’s exploits in front of goal has seen him more or less match the statistics of a world class striker like Robin Van Persie this season. Him scoring 56% of Newcastle’s league goals is the highest from out of the top 7 and his goals are the reason why Newcastle find themselves in such a good position at the half way point in the season.
The lack of backup at Newcastle United is noticable. Leon Best has done relatively well for them however his statistics do not compare to that of Demba Ba. There will no doubt be interest in Ba when the January transfer windows opens. Newcastle United will need to keep hold of him if they are to continue showing form which could easily find themselves in the Champions League next season.
Challenging for the league title is by no means beyond Tottenham Hotspur this season. With two strikers playing at a good level and a 3rd who also possesses great ability, winning the title seems a realistic goal for the first time in a long time for Spurs fans. Emmanuel Adebayor’s signing has helped to further their team and their squad in terms of ability and quality and so they rightly find themselves in 3rd with Champions League qualification a real likelyhood. In Adebayor and Defoe, Spurs possesses two of the more consistently accurate shooters in the league, with accuracies of 60% and 59%.
Robin Van Persie is the league’s top goalscorer with 16 goals. Demba Ba, another very consistent performer this season finds himself the league’s 2nd top goalscorer with Aguero and Rooney who play for the top 2 clubs in 3rd with 13 goals.
Newcastle are the team in the top 7 of the Premier League who are most reliant on their star striker with Demba Ba having scored 56% of all of Newcastle’s league goals this season. Arsenal have also been quite reliant on Robin Van Persie’s goals this season and none of the other better performing teams have shown such a dependancy on just 1 striker for their goals.
Dimitar Berbatov has the better mins per goal statistic despite not played too often so far this season. Last season’s top goalscorer has scored 1 goal every 62 minutes in the league, helped by his hatrick in the last game. Edin Dzeko does not find himself too far behind in this regard scoring 1 goal every 69 ninutes having played a lot more and scoring more than double what Dimitar Berbatov has. Giving Edin Dzeko more game time would be wise of Roberto Mancini. Other notable leaders in this statistic include Robin Van Persie, Demba Ba and Sergio Aguero who have been scoring at more or less a rate of a goal per game.
Saloman Kalou leads the shooting accuracy with 80% however this statistic is an anomalous result when you consider how little he has played so far this season. Surprisingly Gervinho and unsurprisingly Javier Hernandez find themselves to be the major leaders of the shooting accuracy statistic. This statistic does not mean much if the players can’t convert their chances but Javier Hernandez does find himself to be one of the leaders of this statistic too. Demba Ba’s chance conversion rate is also very impressive.
The players with the worst chance conversion rates, unsurprisingly, are the players who have so far disappointed this season. Andy Carroll has the lowest chance conversion out of all of the strikers who ply their trade at the top 7 clubs, a statistic which I’m sure if it were to be presented to the £35million striker, he would look back at you in shame. The 3rd most expensive striker on the list can be reprieved by the most expensive striker on the list who’s chance conversion rate is also pretty terrible. It was widely thought that Andre Villas-Boas has to either solve the Fernando Torres problem or just opt from using him at all. He’s done neither and as a result his team’s problems in attack has been noticable. Another player who has a poor chance conversion rate is Liverpool’s star striker Luis Suarez. Surprisingly, Luis Suarez’s lack of potency and quality in front of goal this season has gone largely unnoticed when compared to Andy Carroll, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.
Craig Bellamy of Liverpool has the best mins per chance created statistics from all the strikers at top 7 clubs. It’s not too often that he’s been used as a central striker this season but this statistic of creating a chance created every 25 minutes is still impressive when you consider that Nani has created 1 chance every 29 minutes and David Silva has created 1 chance every 28 minutes. Other strikers who have been notably creative this season include Robin Van Persie and Edin Dzeko, both of whom have had a brilliant season to date.