As our Premier League Team of the Season so far uses a 4-4-2 system, it means there is room for only two strikers. A quick glance at the goal charts for the season makes it obvious as to who has been the standout striker thus far, and with only one other spot available, we will list a few other strikers we think are worthy of merit as the Premier League season passes the quarter mark.
Diego Costa – Chelsea
The brute Brazilian-born Spanish international has hit the ground running this season, already scoring more than half of last season’s league tally by notching up seven goals from nine appearances to lead the race for the Premier League golden boot. He has proven the difference for Chelsea on several occasions already this season, hitting late winners against West Ham and Watford as well as two assists and an equalizer away at Swansea.
More impressive than Costa’s scoring tally is his efficiency with his shooting, totalling just 27 shots in nine games to average out at just three shots per game. That evens out to a goal scored after every three shots taken, which when compared with other high profile strikers like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sergio Aguero, shows just how deadly Costa has been in front of goal this season. Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in the league but has the worst conversion rate, with an average five shots per game and 45 overall, meaning a goal scored every 11.25 shots taken. Sergio Aguero’s conversion rate rates much better than the Swede, at 6.2 shots taken for every goal, but still doesn’t come close to how effective Costa has been.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=819qQ3H1GxI
The Belgian striker hardly tried to endear himself to Everton fans during the summer, publicly toying with the idea of leaving the club in pursuit of Champions League football with the likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus and a host of other massive clubs. Instead, Lukaku stayed at Everton, and his recent form will go some way to patching up the negative consensus that the fans hold towards their star striker.
Lukaku almost holds a perfect goal-a-game ratio, at six goals scored from seven starts, and eight appearances overall in the league. Lukaku also holds an excellent conversion rate at 4.17 shots per goal scored, just slightly behind that of Diego Costa. He also has two assists to his name and grabbed the competition’s first hat trick of the season in a dominant 3-0 win over Sunderland in September.
Raheem Sterling – Manchester City
Not a striker, though certainly possessing all the tools required to play as one, Raheem Sterling is one of the league’s standout performers. Playing in a very fluid and free-flowing system, Sterling has reaped the rewards with four goals and two assists from nine league appearances so far, but his statistics don’t distinguish him from the rest of the league until you take a closer look.
Sterling’s four goals come with the lowest shots per game ratio when compared with forwards, or other wide midfielders like Alexis Sanchez and Son Heung-Min, who had scored at least the same amount of goals, at 2.1 shots per game. He is the league’s most successful dribbler amongst the top scorers, with 29 total successful dribbles at 3.2 per game, slightly edging ahead of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane who averaged 3.1 per game. Obviously, his positioning plays a role in that statistic, and the more classic number nine’s like Charlie Austin and Jermaine Defoe can’t really offer a reasonable comparison.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKw2BbxO7GI
Once again we mention a more versatile forward who certainly has the capabilities to play as a central striker, but it used out on the right flank by Jurgen Klopp. Mane has seamlessly slotted into Liverpool’s side, returning the same number of goals and assists as Sterling with one less appearance; the two’s returns so far this season almost read as identical.
Mane has added energy and pace to Liverpool’s attack, but also an eye for a decent pass, making 11 key passes this season, bettering Sterling’s number by two. We mentioned how Mane and Sterling’s dribbling numbers were basically the same, which also applies for their shots per game, as Sterling’s 2.1 per game is ever so slightly better than Mane’s 2.3. Only Southampton’s Charlie Austin comes close to that figure, at 2.6 shots per game to return four goals, which he has done with much less game time.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpRBrBWY0R4
We round out the honourable mentions with Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez, who edges out his teammate Theo Walcott with performances that display his complete package as a footballer. No other forward has made as many contributions across the pitch as Sanchez, even though he has mostly been used as a central striker by Arsene Wenger in the absence of Olivier Giroud.
Only Phillipe Coutinho has scored as many goals and made more key passes than Sanchez, the Brazilian’s four goals and 21 key passes slightly bettering Sanchez’s four goals and 19 key passes. That also reflects well in his assists, with three, the highest return for scorers of four goals or more. He fares well with successful dribbles, at 23 overall, which places him 10th in the league leaders list with only Mane and Sterling matching his goal return and having a better dribbling rate.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEHzP5fszp0