Top 10 Strikers of the Premier League season

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As we roll through our postseason awards, it’s time to focus on the meat of every attack.

What do spectators want to see? Goals! Right?

Ok, well maybe not everyone, but there’s no doubt goals are exciting, and parked buses are not. Just ask Brendan Rodgers, I bet he has some choice words on the topic.

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While goals are certainly what every manager looks for when they pick a striker, that’s not the only way they can contribute and get themselves on this list.  Assists, work rate, and passing ability can all land a striker minutes even when he’s not scoring goals.

But ultimately, the goals will be required sooner or later for a frontman.  If they dry up, often players lose their place.

Look no further than Norwich City’s Ricky van Wolfswinkel.  The Dutch striker scored on his debut for the Canaries, and put in shift after shift of hard work and energy up top.  However, that debut goal would be his only in the Premier League across 25 appearances, and he’d find himself on the bench in nine of the club’s final 15 matches.

The top of the list may be somewhat obvious, but the bottom half will be intriguing to see. Let’s take a look at the top 10 strikers from the 2013/14 Premier League season:

10. Loic Remy – Newcastle (on loan from QPR)

Newcastle struggled mightily down the stretch thanks to turmoil in the front office, and Remy was (not coincidentally) on the sidelines for much of it with injury.  But when he saw the field, the Frenchman was a force, grabbing 14 goals on the season.

The Magpies won 15 matches in total this season – Remy scored in nine of them, including their final five.  He was a spark plug for the club, and if they can’t secure him on a permanent transfer from Queens Park Rangers, Remy could be headed to other clubs like Arsenal or Atletico Madrid, to name a few that have already been thrown around.

Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez was an electric player at St. Mary’s this season, only to have it cut short by injury.

9. Jay Rodriguez – Southampton

A mentally and physically devastating injury ended his season – and World Cup hopes – prematurely, but that should not take away from what the young England international accomplished this year.  The 24-year-old academy product hit for 15 goals and three assists while playing in all 33 of his club’s Premier League matches before his injury.

His form earned him his England debut along with teammate Adam Lallana, and the two shone on the international stage as well. It’s a shame we won’t be seeing him in Brazil this year, but Rodriguez is on the big stage to stay and his name should pop up on plenty more of these lists throughout the years if he can make a full recovery from his ACL tear.

8. Edin Dzeko – Manchester City

He remains in the shadows of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo at Manchester City, but he continues to provide goals up front. Dzeko is a striker in the true sense of the word, and doesn’t have a whole lot of other strengths, but 16 goals and a championship medal to his name this year earns him a place on the top 10 list.

The Bosnian picked up some enormous goals this season for Manchester City, including a winner over Crystal Palace in December when his team was struggling, and a brace in the penultimate match against Everton to keep them on top in the title race heading into the final weekend.

7. Wilfried Bony – Swansea

A Premier League debutant, Bony was bought from Vitesse with the intention of lightening the load of last season’s star Michu.  Bony did more than that, as he essentially took over for the Spaniard who struggled mightily with injuries all year.

While Michu scored just two goals in 17 matches, Bony shrugged off a slow start to the season to finish with 16 goals and earn Swansea’s player of the year honors.  With a healthy Michu next season, the two should be a force if they can both be utilized in the lineup properly by Garry Monk.

6. Olivier Giroud – Arsenal

While he may have had too much to do as the only capable striker in the Arsenal ranks, Giroud is still one of the best in the league at scoring goals and playing the attractive brand Arsene Wenger asks of his players. The Frenchman struck 16 times this Premier League season and set his teammates up eight for eight more.

Giroud benefited heavily from the arrival of Mesut Ozil at the end of the summer transfer window, but the striker still remains a great litmus test for how Arsenal will finish – all but two of his goals this season came in Arsenal wins.  If he can figure out how to shorten the doldrums he sometimes seems to disappear into at times, he can be one of the best three in the league and lead Arsenal to heights of old.

5. Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

While his sole importance to the Championship-winning Manchester City attack isn’t that of those below on this list thanks to a deep squad, Aguero still leads Pellegrini’s squad up front.

Aguero posted 17 goals and six assists this year in a season where he only saw the pitch 23 times due to a serious battle with a hamstring and knee problems that lasted nearly five months.  Despite the lack of time, Aguero is a dangerous force when he is on the field, and he’s only a bigger threat still thanks to the additions Pellegrini made this season up front.

If he can keep that pace throughout a 38-match season (which would give him about 28 goals this season), Aguero could challenge the numbers Luis Suarez put up this year and earn himself even higher individual honors.

4. Romelu Lukaku – Everton

Lukaku’s loan spell at Everton did its job – it made many Chelsea fans furious with Jose Mourinho’s decision to let him go in the first place. While the manager blamed Lukaku for his departure to Goodison Park, it was ultimately Chelsea’s final call to send him away.

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Thanks to his incredible form, Lukaku’s future is in question, having made Jose Mourinho regret sending him away.

No matter who’s fault it was, the decision will no doubt net Lukaku a lot of money in the future.  At only 21 years old, the towering Belgian scooped up 15 goals and six assists, including a strong finish where he scored six times in the club’s last 11 matches fresh off a serious ankle injury.

The talisman of the Belgian national team’s attack in Christian Benteke’s absence, Lukaku has a lot on his shoulders at such a young age.  And with Diego Costa’s imminent arrival at Stamford Bridge, there will be plenty of Lukaku’s name sprinkled throughout the papers this summer.

3. Daniel Sturridge – Liverpool

The Robin to Suarez’s Batman, the 24-year-old picked up 21 goals for himself while assisting another seven, meaning the SaS pair picked up 52 of Liverpool’s 101 goals this year – over half.  Add Gerrard’s 13, and the trio had a whopping 64% of Liverpool’s goals this season.

Sturridge’s statement came early on, when Suarez began the season on the bench, scoring in eight of Liverpool’s first nine games.  Injuries slowed him down at times, or forced him out of the lineup altogether, but he still finished with three goalscoring streaks of four or more matches, including one seven-match stretch where he scored nine times.

Even with Suarez’s PoY performance, the Reds wouldn’t be close to what they accomplished without Sturridge’s contributions.

2. Wayne Rooney – Manchester United

Despite his inferior goals tally to Sturridge, Rooney gets the nod in the second position because of how he was far and away the best player on the pitch for Manchester United all season.  Rooney bagged 17 goals and 12 assists while the Red Devils struggled under enormous media scrutiny all season.

Rooney doesn’t just provide goals and assists, either. He was successful in 64% of his take-ons this season, according to Squawka statistics, and created 58 chances for teammates, tops on the team and third in the Premier League among strikers.

The English international is a leader on the field, and it’s no wonder the club threw every resource they had at him to get him to sign back on for next season, despite the lack of European play.

1. Luis Suarez – Liverpool

This was a relatively obvious top choice. Having already received the PFA Player of the Year award, in addition to our very own ProSoccerTalk Player of the Year award.

Suarez matched the Premier League record for goals in a 38-match season with 31 goals, and he missed the first six matches of the season, making the feat that much more incredible.  Add to it the media and fan pressure he faced from his negative image stemming from the previous year, and the stars had to align for him to have an outstanding season – and they did.

Oh, and he also bagged 12 assists (which is an objective statistic, with transfermarkt totaling 21 assists for the Uruguayan), meaning if soccer did points like hockey or lacrosse does, Suarez would have the most in the Premier League by fourteen. Yea, this one’s an easy choice.

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

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Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

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Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

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The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.

Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

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There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.

Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.

Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

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Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.

Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:

On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”

But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”

In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”

It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.