The Premier League’s Top Strikers of 2018/19
Very often, the terms central midfielder and striker are used interchangeable. However, the job of a striker is very different to that of a traditional centre forward. Both play further up the field than the other players and like the centre forward, the traditional job of a striker is to score goals. As a result, strikers are known as being able to get past defenders, run into space through the blind side of the defender and receive the ball in a strong position from which to score.
Generally strikers are very fast players with excellent ball control and dribbling abilities. The best strikers can shoot confidentially with either foot, possess a huge amount of power and accuracy, and are able to link up with teammates and pass the ball when under pressure in breakaway situations. Many strikers wear the number 9 shirt, but occasionally a striker will wear the number 10 or even 7 or 11.
The Premier League is home to many fantastic strikers and many have impressed over the past season, here are some of the best of them.
Martin Keown has described Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as, “The closest thing to Thierry Henry” and he certainly had a fantastic first full season in the Premier League. It took hardly any time for Aubameyang to settle after he become the team’s record signing in January 2018, and scored 10 goals from 19 shots on target. This season he continued in exactly the same way.
There are hardly any strikers who have a better shot conversion rate and Aubameyang is one of the joint recipients of the Golden Boot awards. However, it is arguable that Mo Salah and Sadio Mane had far better players working around them, making Aubameyang’s feat even more impressive.
Even as the team were struggling to reach the top four, Aubameyang kept going and helped them to focus on the Europa League. He scored four goals in the semi-final, including a fantastic hat trick at Valencia that helped the team reach the final. Now he will have one more chance to shine in the final and see if he can get the team to next year’s Champions League.
The Manchester City player ensured that he reclaimed the position as the team’s starting striker from Gabriel Jesus by scoring more than 20 goals in the Premier League for the fifth season in a row. Just Alan Shearer has broken the 20 goal barrier in more seasons than Aguero.
He is so consistently good that it is easy to stop appreciating it. However, assuming nothing goes wrong, next season he is likely to climb to fourth place on the all-time Premier League goal scorers list.
However, he has not just been impressive scoring and he has not been as single minded as in the past. Of the top centre-forwards in the Premier League, only Callum Wilson has provided more assists.
While Aubameyang may have been Arsenal’s top goal scorer, his strike partner, Alexandre Lacazette, received the team’s Player of the Season award and there are rumours that Barcelona are offering £70 million for him.
Arguably, Arsenal have had a very successful season. However, were it not for their two strikers, the chances are that thing would have been very different and fans would have far less to be happy about.
Lacazette is the only team member in double figures for both goals and assists in all competitions this season and there is just one striker in the Premier League who can claim to have laid on more goals, Callum Wilson. However, the numbers don’t really demonstrate just how impressive Lacazette has been outside of the box where he has built a huge following of fans.
Raul Jimenez has made a huge impact at the Wolverhampton Wanderers since he arrived from Benfica on loan last summer and the team lost no time in offering him a permanent contract, making the Mexican their record signing when they reached a deal for £30 million.
Jimenez had a role in every one of Wolves’ Premier League games this season, and he scored 13 goals to tie with Javier Hernandez as the highest scoring Mexican in a Premier League season. Jimenez has formed an excellent partnership with Diogo Jota since Jota was moved off of the wing to play as a second striker, and the pair have also set the tone defensively from the front. Arguably, his only mistake of the season was putting on a wrestling style mask when celebrating a goal against Watford.
When Newcastle United announced Rondon as their Player of the Season they said, “In the Premier League alone, Rondon has been involved in 47 per cent of United’s goals, having contributed eight assists in addition to his 10 top-flight strikes.”
That was before he went on to score another goal, his fifth of the campaign. It was a highly impressive season from Rondon, but not quite good enough to persuade the team to offer him a permanent contract. There is every chance that the team will come to regret this decision if they fail to secure a similar goal scorer for next season.
Speaking about Callum Wilson recently, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said, “There is a lot more to come in every aspect of his game”. However, with fourteen goals last season, there is plenty of evidence that Wilson is already an excellent striker. Furthermore, Wilson recorded more assists last season than any other central striker, with nine of them, so it is not quite clear where Howe expects him to improve.
Perhaps Wilson’s one weak area is his finishing. While he did reach double figures for the first time, he also missed 21 big chances and there is only one striker who has missed more. However, this hasn’t been enough to put off Gareth Southgate and there are also rumours that there is interest in him from Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
With a new manager to make an impression on, Jamie Vardy has certainly been working hard. He won the Premier League Player of the Month in April and showed everyone how good he is when at his best.
Vardy seemed to fade during much of Claude Puel’s time in charge. The French manager dropped him at times, a sign of how much Vardy struggled with the Frenchman’s possession based approach. However, since Brendan Rodgers took over, Vardy has scored ten goals in ten games, taking his total for the season to eighteen.
Vardy also has an excellent record against the top six. He scored five goals against them this season despite the team finishing halfway down the table.
Aleksandar Mitrovic had to leave the Premier League after he was deemed not good enough for Newcastle. However, he quickly returned after helping Fulham to reach the top flight last season. While the team had a very poor season in the Premier League, Mitrovic was one of the few players to end the season with any credibility.
He scored close to a third of his side’s 34 goals and without him the team would have done even worse. There is no team in the Premier League that had fewer goal scorers than Fulham. Furthermore, no striker in the Premier League has taken more shots than Mitrovic, and just two regulars have a worse conversion rate.
In his five seasons as a Tottenham Hotspur regular, this was the first in which Kane failed to break through the 20-goal barrier. However, scoring 17 in 28 games is still an impressive amount when one considers that he has been struggling with ankle injuries and that he won the Golden Boot at the World Cup last summer.
Kane had pretty much written his season off, but the team’s passage to the Champions League final has given him added motivation to get back to full strength as quickly as possible. However, Mauricio Pochettino will have to decide whether there is any truth to the claims that Spurs are more dangerous with the pace of Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura in his absence.
Virgil van Dijk is likely to prefer to deal with the threat of Kane, who normally plays where the centre-back can see him, rather than have to chase Son and Moura. However, there is always the chance that Pochettino will include all three in his XI.
Glenn Murray’s thirteen goals for Brighton this season have been very impressive. He has put the team’s goal scoring problems down to a lack of creativity rather than poor finishing, and the statistics appear to back him up. His goals have come from just 44 shots, the fewest number of any first-choice central strike, and only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a better conversion rate.
Brighton are lucky to have had Murray this season. Without his goals they would have had 13 points fewer and would almost certainly be facing relegation.