The relegation fight is starting to really heat up and every team needs goals to secure their Premier League status. It is a common belief that strikers become more important during the run in, as they are the match winners in the side. There will be many tight matches before the end of the season down the bottom of the league and these will be the games that determine which sides will go down. If a striker scores 4 to 8 goals for one of the teams in the bottom five between now and the end of the season, that side will probably stay up, this shows how important a front man is for a side in the relegation zone.
In their last outing, Pepe Mel opted to start Victor Anichebe who has impressed in the past few weeks. Many were shocked when the club sold Shane Long and that could be a decision that they live to regret as he has already netted twice for his new club. Anichebe has scored three times this season, but he is more likely to used to create chances for West Brom’s impressive array of midfielders. The Baggies have struggled for goals this season, with Saido Berahino leading the way with four goals, but his performances have dropped recently. Despite their victory over Swansea, West Brom are in a precarious position and their lack of a goal threat could prove to be a huge problem.
Tony Pulis has revitalised Crystal Palace since arriving as manager, but their success has been built on a strong defence rather than a prolific strikeforce. They have scored the fewest amount of goals in the league with 19, and that trend looks unlikely to end as Palace have scored only one goal in their last four matches. Marouane Chamakh is the club’s top scorer with five league goals, but he is currently missing with injury. Pulis has opted to field Glenn Murray recently and he has scored once. Last season’s top scorer has only just returned from injury, he has the potential to fire Palace to safety over the next couple of months. The club also have Cameron Jerome and Dwight Gayle on their books, both of whom are capable of netting crucial goals.
Sunderland have been changing their first choice striker frequently this season, with none of them securing a place in the team. In fact their leading scorer is Adam Johnson, a winger, who has found the net on seven occasions in the league. This highlights Sunderland’s issues in the final third. Fabio Borini and Steven Fletcher have both scored three times in the league, but three of their combined six goals have come against Newcastle. This shows that Sunderland have struggled to find a regular goalscorer, especially in matches against their fellow relegation rivals. They only managed a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace at home this weekend, which emphasises their striker problems. The Black Cats perhaps have a better side than many of their rivals, but their lack of a goalscorer could prove terminal. Jozy Altidore was brought in to score goals regularly, however the American has failed to impress, scoring only once.
The Welsh side are another who have struggled to score goals this season, with their top scorer being Fraizer Campbell, who has scored five goals. He has looked impressive and he is certainly capable of scoring two or three crucial goals in the run in. Their other option is Kenwyne Jones who has netted once since moving to Wales. He offers a more physical option to Campbell, while they also have the option to pair the two. This could prove to be effective in home matches as Cardiff could attempt to utilise a more direct style of football with Campbell running in behind. The former Manchester United youth player has lots of pace which is a weapon that the other clubs don’t have. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also has the veteran Craig Bellamy to call upon who has the experience to score vital goals.
Fulham allowed Dimitar Berbatov to depart on loan in January which caused doubts about who would be the man the team looks for in the final third. Cauley Woodrow has started the last two matches, but the youngster has failed to score in the Premier League. He only managed to score twice for Southend in 18 matches in League 2 while on loan this season. If he struggled to score goals in the fourth tier, then he isn’t likely to be able to fire Fulham to safety. Darren Bent has netted three times in the league and his experience could prove critical in the remaining matches, while Hugo Rodallega is another option with Premier League experience for Felix Magath. The former Wigan striker is yet to find the net in the league this season though. The Cottagers spent a lot of money of the Greek International Kostas Mitroglou. Magath is yet to be convinced by the big money striker as he has struggled to impress in his first two matches for the club.
None of the sides have a standout striker, but Crystal Palace and Sunderland are probably best prepared to fire themselves to safety. Despite being the lowest scorers in the league this season, Crystal Palace could have a very dangerous partnership if they opt to pair Glenn Murray and Marouane Chamakh together. The Moroccan will bring the aerial ability to win the flick ons, while Murray is a natural finisher, who has the ability to score goals in the top flight. Sunderland have the quality up front to score goals at this level, with Fabio Borini in particular showing his class in recent weeks. The other three could really struggle to find the net as frequently as they need to.