Global Sports : Who’s The Top Striker?

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After scoring twice in Arsenal’s win at Newcastle, Arsene Wenger was full of praise for Olivier Giroud. “Is he one of the best in the Premier League now? I think so.” But what do the stats show? We had a look at the evidence…
Who has scored the most goals? Who needs the fewest number of minutes per goal? Which striker is most important to his team? Who works the hardest and which player can claim to provide the most opportunities for his team-mates?
Using the criteria that a player must have scored at least five Premier League goals to warrant inclusion, we waded through the Opta statistics to pick out the star men in 10 key categories…
Goals
19 – Diego Costa and Harry Kane
Where better to start than goals and it’s a dead heat in the race to be Premier League top scorer with Chelsea’s Diego Costa and Tottenham’s Harry Kane tied on 19 goals. Kane had briefly gone top of the pile following his hat-trick against Leicester on Saturday but Costa responded with a curled effort at Hull the following day to level things up. Don’t rule out Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero either though as he’s only two goals behind with 17 of his own.
Mins/goal
92 – Papiss Cisse
This is the category that best illustrates the point regarding Olivier Giroud’s impressive contribution with the Frenchman netting a goal every 96 minutes of action, just ahead of Kane’s record of a goal every 98 minutes. But neither man can keep up with the Premier League’s most deadly marksman – Papiss Cisse. The Senegal striker has found the net once every 92 minutes he’s been on the pitch for Newcastle this season.
Headers
5 – Diafra Sakho
Another area in which Giroud excels. Indeed, there were some familiar names prominent on this list with Peter Crouch having scored four goals from headers to rank second alongside Giroud and Kane so far this season. But it’s a new arrival to the Premier League that can currently claim to have scored more headed goals than any other striker in the division. Diafra Sakho is not quite 6’2” but boasts a prodigious leap and has nodded the ball home on five occasions for Sam Allardyce’s West Ham this season.
Points won
22 – Harry Kane
There’s a clear winner in this category with Kane responsible for an astonishing 22 of Tottenham’s points so far this season. Neither garbage goals when the game is won nor late consolation strikes have inflated Kane’s tally – his goals have made the difference for Spurs in 2014/15 and kept them in the hunt for the European places. Next on the list is Cisse with the Newcastle striker’s goals helping his team to 11 points this year – half as many as Kane.
Goal contribution to team
48% – Charlie Austin
It’s one thing scoring goals in a team that bags three or four of them most games but there are some strikers who don’t have that luxury. Some Premier League forwards are waging what must feel like a one-man battle against the opposition and none more so than Charlie Austin. The QPR player has scored a whopping 48% of his team’s goals this season, just ahead of West Brom’s Saido Berahino (44%) and that man Kane (38%).
Clear chances converted
78% – Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney has not been given the opportunity to play regularly as a striker under Louis van Gaal but the England captain’s record in the Premier League this season suggests he remains a reliable finisher when given the chance. Opta defines a clear chance as ‘a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range’ and Rooney puts them away more efficiently than anyone else. Next on the list? Costa.
Shooting accuracy
67% – Jonathan Walters
If you don’t buy a ticket then you can’t win the raffle. It’s an old maxim that Jonathan Walters seems to have remembered as the Stoke forward hits the target with a greater percentage of his efforts on goal than any other Premier League striker. It’s helped bring Walters seven goals this season and he also boasts the best conversion rate (excluding penalties) in the division too (39%). Costa ranks just behind him in both categories.
Assists
6 – Sergio Aguero
Man City’s Aguero might not be perceived as a playmaker but the Argentine has six assists as well as his 17 goals, making him the top-assisting forward in the Premier League. As a result, when goals and assists are combined Aguero remains the most effective striker in the country despite the arrival of Costa and emergence of Kane. Honourable mentions here for Rooney, Romelu Lukaku and Danny Ings who all have four assists to their name.
Open play chances created for others
37 – Diego Costa
It isn’t just about the goals with Costa. The Premier League’s joint-top scorer has also fashioned 37 chances for his Chelsea team-mates – more than any other striker in the country. It helps when you have Eden Hazard in support but it’s clear that Costa is the leader of the line that Jose Mourinho craved. Also high on this list are Southampton’s Graziano Pelle and Rooney – with the Manchester United man top if you include his set-piece deliveries.
Distance covered
289km – Graziano Pelle
The goals might have dried up for Pelle but there can be no denying the Italian’s contribution to his team’s season. The Saints target man has covered 289km – more than any other Premier League forward in 2014/15 and his relentless work has been appreciated by supporters and team-mates alike. Also featuring prominently in this category are Rooney, having spent much of the campaign in midfield, and Burnley’s tireless frontman Ings.

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