Thursday 22 March 2018

Ranking the top 20 Premier League strikers in 2015

Shane Long, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy
Shane Long, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy

JJ Bull

Who have been the 20 best forwards in the Premier League over the entirety of 2015? JJ Bull ranks them in order based on form, stats and overall ability.

20 - Shane Long, Southampton

Southampton’s secret weapon, Shane Long is a reliable goal scorer who can play up front or as inside forward out wide. The Irishman has scored seven and assisted four goals in 2015, despite starting most games on the bench.

Bafetimbi Gomis places and scores the second goal for Swansea

19 - Bafetimbis Gomis, Swansea

It’s quite hard to tell how good Bafetimbis Gomis actually is. At times, like against Manchester United this season, he looks like a top Premier League striker but in the next match he is anonymous against teams Swansea should really be beating. Has scored 11 goals in 34 games, which is a good return, but has only created 22 chances for teammates all year – Gomis needs to be more of a team player if he is to be the sole striker in the side.

18 - Theo Walcott, Arsenal

Theo Walcott impressed earlier this season when played as the main striker in Olivier Giroud’s absence - and then at his expense - and has done well to recover from serious injury.

Crucially, Walcott hasn’t lost any of his pace since that cruciate ligament surgery and is an excellent outlet for Mesut Ozil. Walcott has scored eight goals in 28 appearances this year.

Anthony Martial celebrates his early goal

17 - Anthony Martial, Manchester United

OK, look, calm down. I’m aware that Anthony Martial hasn’t scored 28 goals already like his price tag automatically meant he would, since that is the law of football transfers, but what Martial has shown so far is that he has the potential to be a world star.

His control and ability to dribble with the ball is incredible and he is genuinely exciting to watch. If he were afforded more time as the main striker he might have added to the four goals he has scored already for Van Gaal’s side.

16 - Wilfried Bony, Swansea

Always the bridesmaid at Man City, Wilfried Bony has had a few more chances to show what he can do as the main striker at a “big club” this season thanks to Sergio Aguero’s series of injuries. That thing he can do is hold up the ball quite well, sit on the bench reeeeally well and score seven goals in 27 games.

15 - Wayne Rooney, Manchester United

Is Wayne Rooney out of form or past his peak? It’s a question that has been asked a lot this season and while he’s definitely nothing like the goal scoring striker he once was, he is still massively important to Manchester United.

You can see the team improve when he enters play as a substitute though he definitely isn't as potent or clinical as seasons past.

Ayoze Perez's first-team performances were a rare bright spark in Newcastle's poor start to last season

14 - Ayoze Perez, Newcastle

There have been transfer rumours linking Ayoze Perez with teams like Manchester United for a couple of seasons now, and when he moved to Newcastle it was considered a shock move due to Real Madrid’s apparent interest.

The reasons why are obvious on the pitch. Perez isn’t a prolific goal scorer but gives Newcastle something different up front – he's extremely quick and has the much coveted ability to drive at a defence and create opportunities from nothing.

13 - Saido Berahino, West Brom

His attitude might be all wrong, according to Tony Pulis, but both West Brom and Said Berahino know how good the striker could be on the pitch. With 10 goals from 33 appearances, Berahino is the third top English scorer in the league, behind only Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.

Stoke's Marko Arnautovic celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Joselu. Photo: Carl Recine / Action Images via Reuters

12 - Marko Arnautovic, Stoke

You never really see anything written about how good Arnautovic is, but he’s a hidden gem. Mark Hughes’ best signing so far, the Austrian has scored eight and assisted seven for Stoke in 2015.

11 - Graziano Pelle, Southampton

Graziano Pelle is one of those old fashioned number nine strikers that used to grace the Premier League with their headers and standing mostly still most of the time and has 10 goals in 35 games this year, which while not exactly prolific, makes him Southampton's most dangerous player.

10 - Diego Costa, Chelsea

Costa was one of the best players in the league last season but has just never really got going this time around. At times he looks off the pace, out of position and as though he actually prefers spending his time on the pitch fighting anything he suspects may be sentient.

Over the whole year Costa has been a great Chelsea player, even if this season might be the most forgettable and regrettable of his career.

Christian Benteke celebrates scoring the winner with teammate Adam Lallana. Reuters / Andrew Yates

9 - Christian Benteke, Liverpool

Benteke isn’t particularly mobile but my word does he score goals. With 17 goals all year, including some scored in a few months at Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa – the worst of all the Aston Villas – Benteke’s eye for goal has to be sharp. And it has been.

8 - Olivier Giroud, Arsenal

The debate as to whether Olivier Giroud is world class is not is both tedious and pointless, since what that means in essence, is that if a group of space aliens came down to earth to play us at football, those are the players we would put in a team against them.

Giroud probably won’t save the planet but has scored 19 goals all year, as well as being exactly the kind of striker Arsenal’s forward players need – holding up the ball, linking play and being a target man. If Benzema is Spotify Premium, Giroud is Spotify free.

7 - Odion Ighalo, Watford

Despite having only played 19 Premier League games, Odion Ighalo has scored more than Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez and over double the amount of Wayne Rooney. Watford are playing really well at the moment and the partnership of Deeney and Ighalo is one of the best we’ve seen in the Premier League. If they can keep it up (and Watford can keep them together) the future is bright. The future is yellow. Wait a minute…

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring his sides third goal

6 - Raheem Sterling, Manchester City

Raheem Sterling has been used as more of a second striker since January, playing up front on his own for Liverpool and Man City over the course of the year. He’s quite good at it too, and has scored eight and assisted five, as well as being the second best dribbler of a ball in the entire league. Sterling has successful burned 64 players – only Alexis Sanchez has been better.

5 - Romelu Lukaku, Everton

With 19 goals and seven assists all year, Romelu Lukaku has been one of the Premier League’s best strikers, even if he has missed quite a lot of chances. Is improving month on month too and has the potential to be a great – he just needs to convert more. Then again, Andy Cole used to miss tons and he did alright.

4 - Jamie Vardy, Leicester

KAPPOW! Here comes Jamie Vardy flying down the wing, then the centre – HE’S BEHIND YOU! - now he’s at the corner flag celebrating yet another goal. Leicester’s quick attacking play is relentless and as a result of good form and being not bad at football, Vardy has scored the same amount of goals (19) as Sergio Aguero in 2015 and has also assisted nine, three more than the Man City player.

Harry Kane scored twice in Tottenham's 3-0 win over Norwich on Saturday

3 - Harry Kane, Spurs

England’s New Hope, Harry Kane has scored more goals than any other striker in the Premier League in 2015. Comparisons to Alan Shearer’s playing style are fair and welcomed by Kane - the 27 goals in 38 games he’s scored is also eerily similar to the ex-Newcastle forward’s usual tally.

2 - Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez’s work-rate is astounding and you can genuienly see the effect it has on his teammates when he's in the team. His 12 goals and three assists in 2015 don’t really begin to explain or do justice to what it is he brings to Arsenal but if you do want some stats, try this: in 2015 Alexis has created more chances and dribbled past more defenders than any other forward in the Premier League.

And all this achieved while supposedly exhausted and carrying an injury. FAO Daniel Sturridge.

1 - Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

When on form and injury free, Sergio Aguero belongs in the same bracket of elite strikers as Ronaldo, Lewandowski and Suarez. It usually takes the Argentinian about three or four games to get back on track after an absence and even then, in 30 games all year he has scored 19 goals, including an incredible five goal haul against Newcastle.

A joy to watch, lightning fast and capable of astonishing ball control while dribbling in packed penalty areas, Aguero is one of the best forwards in world football.

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