Global Sports : Sturridge V Aguero

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Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City on Super Sunday pits two of the Premier League’s deadliest strikers against each other. But who is the best?
Aguero was on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture in August, while it was Sturridge’s Liverpool who ran out 3-2 winners in this game last season.
Here we compare the two men with the best Premier League strike rates at their current clubs. From their earliest days to the top of the game, it’s been quite a journey…
Child prodigies
Sturridge grew up in Birmingham and according to Pete Evans, youth coach at Cadbury Athletic, the ability was evident well before his teenage years. “It was clear from an early age he was a real talent,” Evans told the Birmingham Mail. “He scored some of the best goals I’ve ever seen at the age of eight or nine that were like adult goals. So good was his first touch that rarely did you see him miscontrol the ball. He was genuinely quick, but it was difficult to tell if he was also just reading the game better than those around him.”
Aguero grew up in a poor household south of Buenos Aires and made his first forays into the game with Independiente, the club he joined at the age of nine. Former Argentina international and Independiente icon Ricardo Bochini was a youth coach at the club and identified the talent immediately. “At that age he was still very small, but when we took him to play indoor football on a smaller pitch you could see just what great natural ability and technique he had,” said Bochini, quoted in The Guardian. “He had great confidence on the ball and was an excellent finisher.”
International recognition
Sturridge was earmarked for stardom as he came through the ranks and represented England at every youth level. He featured at the European U19 Championships and the European U21 Championships three years later in 2011. Shortly after the latter tournament he made his debut for Fabio Capello’s senior side against Sweden and followed up by making a goalscoring impact for Great Britain at the London Olympics before missing a crucial penalty in the quarter-final shootout against South Korea. The World Cup last summer brought further disappointment, although Sturridge did mark his first appearance with an equaliser against Italy.
Aguero was also a regular for Argentina in under-age football and tasted plenty of success too. After appearing for his country at Under-17 level he later scored six goals at the Under-20 World Cup in 2007 – claiming both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for his efforts. He was also part of Argentina’s win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, scoring twice against Brazil in the semi-final. Aguero had made his senior debut by that point and went on to represent his country at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, scoring in a semi-final shootout win over the Netherlands last July.
Early club career
Sturridge broke through with Manchester City, netting on his FA Cup debut in January 2008 and then adding another goal in his first Premier League start just three days later. The following year Sturridge moved to Chelsea with the fee decided by tribunal and the young forward was a bit-part player in the club’s 2009/10 Premier League title win. It took a loan move to Bolton for the goals to really flow and while Sturridge was Chelsea’s joint-top scorer in the 2011/12 season, he was an unused substitute in their Champions League triumph and left for Liverpool the following January.
Oscar Ruggeri handed Aguero his Independiente debut just weeks after he turned 15 but it took some time before the diminutive forward established himself as a first-team regular. That happened in late 2005 and the inevitable move to Europe occurred the following summer when Aguero joined Atletico Madrid for a fee in the region of £15.7million. After a season playing second fiddle to Fernando Torres, he formed a famous partnership with Diego Forlan and by the time he moved to Manchester City in 2011 had scored over 100 goals for Atletico, winning the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup in the process.
Strike rates
The headline statistic that highlights Sturridge’s impact during his time at Anfield is truly remarkable. His strike rate of 0.68 goals per Premier League appearance for Liverpool is better than any other player at their current club – including Aguero at Manchester City. It’s a world-class return and reflects his stunning impact since arriving at the club, especially given that the tally includes only one penalty. With Sturridge still only 25, the scope for further improvement remains.
Aguero, a year older at 26, found form immediately upon his arrival at Manchester City with a brace off the bench. He has now scored 69 goals in 108 Premier League appearances for the club at a strike rate of 0.66. Given that he has been frequently substituted, that amounts to a goal every 110 minutes of action – by far the best of any consistent goalscorer. When it comes to hitting the net, Aguero is closer to being a ‘goal-a-game man’ rather than the old ‘one-in-two’ benchmark.
Head to head
Sturridge’s first match against Aguero came in 2009 and resulted in a big win for the Englishman as Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League group stages at Stamford Bridge. Sturridge hasn’t always fared too well against his old club Manchester City though. He came on for Chelsea in a 4-2 home defeat in 2010 and was red carded in his final appearance for Bolton the following year.
It’s a similar story for Aguero against Liverpool. He’s failed to find the net in four visits to Anfield including a 2010 trip there with Atletico. It’s been a different story at the Etihad Stadium, however, with the City striker scoring in the fixture in each of his three seasons with the club. Only once have both men found the net in the same game – a 2-2 draw in 2013. Will the spoils be shared again on Sunday or will one of the Premier League’s star strikers claim the glory for himself?

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