Seeing as we’ve reached the midway point in the season, we thought it would be shrewd to quickly assess who the best punts are in terms of who will finish the Premiership season as the leagues most prolific striker. With 20 matches already played for some teams, we have three frontrunners setting the standards with 14 goals-a-piece; Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Didier Drogba (Chelsea) and Wayne Rooney (Man Utd). Each are plying their trade with a team currently occupying a top four berth, which just goes to show that having quality assistance makes a tremendous difference to a strikers goalscoring return.
English Premiership Top Goalscorers (As of 31/12/09):
Jermain Defoe 14
Didier Drogba 14
Wayne Rooney 14
Darren Bent 13
Fernando Torres 12
Louis Saha 10
Cesc Fabregas 9
Carlos Tevez 9
Gabriel Agbonlahor 8
Carlton Cole 7
Jermain Defoe – The former Pompey front man made his return to Tottenham nearly a year ago today and has proved a shrewd acquisition ever since, even if the Spurs fans didn’t know what they already had in front of their own noses. In his second stint at the club, Defoe has bagged 17 goals in just 24 appearances in all competitions. This season, Defoe has been the catalyst for Tottenham’s top four push and has scored exactly a third of their league goals this term.
Main Strength: Pace
Defoe’s biggest asset is his pace, without a doubt, but his all around striking ability has gradually improved since his spell at Portsmouth under the same manager, Harry Redknapp. His movement, both on and off the ball, has come on leaps and bounds, while his quick ability to read the play has been one of several positive reasons why Defoe has been such a handful for opposing defences during the early parts of the season.
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Top Goalscorer Odds: 10/3 Boylesports
Didier Drogba – The Ivorian has not only been Chelsea’s best player this season but also probably the best performer in the league on current form, possibly even in Europe. When Drogba goes on one of his free-scoring, confidence beaming runs, the 6ft 2in powerhouse is close to unstoppable. After a difficult season last term, Drogba has come on strong in the early part of this season, but now his priority’s turn towards his International duties with the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. The former Marseille front man will be sorely missed as, like Defoe, Drogba has scored a large part of Chelsea’s goals this season and has been one half of a lethal striking duo involving himself and Nicolas Anelka. A partnership many thought would never work.
Main Strength – Strength
You don’t appreciate just what an athlete Didier Drogba is until you see him in person, strutting his stuff on that green acre of grass. His 6ft+ height enables him to tower over even the tallest of defenders but it’s his abundance of strength which makes him stand out from the rest and what makes him one of the most feared strikes on the planet. He has the strength to brush even the strongest and bulkiest of defenders aside and yet he still has the composure to finish with aplomb when given a sniff of a chance. Arguably the worlds best striker on present form but his International stint will stop him firmly in his tracks, especially if Ivory Coast do go all the way.
Top Goalscorer Odds: 5/1 Bet365
Wayne Rooney – Just the name should be enough for all you Englishman and women out there. He is, quite simply, England’s brightest talent and he’s not only pivotal for his club, Manchester United, but even more so for England’s chances in the forthcoming summer World Cup in South Africa, although the conditions will be far from sun & shades out in Africa come July.
Rooney has been embracing our screens with scintillating displays ever since his arrival onto the scene at Everton, with his memorable long range strike against Arsenal catapulting him into the arms of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, his performances in a United shirt have confirmed what we pretty much knew all along, that Rooney is a world-class player. He has been United’s stalwart this season, driving the Red Devils forward whenever they have had their backs to the walls. Rooney never cowers away, he thrives on difficult situations and he’s actually been the only shining light in what has been a pretty poor United outfit this season.
Main Strength: Work Rate
Wayne Rooney has similar characteristics to Carlos Tevez, a former team-mate of Rooney’s. Whenever United have looked sluggish, which has been a lot this season, Rooney has picked up the pace by closing down every single opponent who dares to come into possession of the ball. Rooney just doesn’t know when to give in and you’ll often see him running right back to defence in order to make a tackle just so United can gain possession and start another offensive push. This sort of attitude infects those around him to do the exact same and try match his high levels. Those at the club strive to match Rooney’s work rate and high footballing standards, while those outside the club just want to be like him. What’s more, he is actually a decent chap off the field, although he’s like a possessed bulldog on it at times.
Club: Manchester United
Top Goalscorer Odds: 13/5 Boylesports
Darren Bent – Bent was the loser of the Tottenham camp under Harry Redknapp, and even with some newspaper columnists, but the England hopeful has put them all to shame with a superb start to the season which has seen the former Spurs man score 13 goals in 20 appearances for Sunderland, a club that were struggling to fend off relegation last season. Bent’s goals this term has enabled Sunderland to challenge for a top ten finish, and, outstandingly, claim the scalps of both Arsenal & Liverpool, with Bent scoring the only goal in the two 1-0 victories over both sides. His confidence at Spurs may have taken a battering but his morale will have sky-rocketed through the roof after a superb opening to the campaign with the Black Cats.
Main Strength: Awareness
Bent has always possessed a fair amount of pace and acceleration, whilst his finishing has generally been OK, but it was his off-the-ball awareness that tended to let him down as he didn’t have that predatory striker instinct which made the likes of Les Ferdinand & Alan Shearer so prolific in front of goal at club level. However, Bent appears to have got the knack of that old adage ‘being in the right place at the right time’ as time and time again this season, Bent ends up with the ball at his feet inside the penalty area. It’s not always about scoring the perfect 20 yard goal but more about sticking the tap-in’s into the goal, as those sort of goals come about more often, which is why Bent has prevailed this season.
Top Goalscorer Odds: 7/1 SportingBet
Fernando Torres – Does this lad really need any introduction? The Spaniard stormed onto the scene with an unbelievable début season, scoring 24 in just his first ever season in the Premiership, two season ago, before enduring an injury ravaged season last term. To be fair, he has had his fair amount of injuries this season, with a hernia the latest in a long list of Torres injuries. However, even a cast-iron cast wouldn’t stop this lad scoring as he’s just unstoppable on his day, and he has his day just about every other week, which is why he’s just so deadly. This season, despite starting just 14 times for Liverpool, has notched up 12 goals, just two off the leaders who have played a good handful of games more than him. He narrowly missed out on the Golden Boot in his first season, but will be eager to go one better this season providing he eases off the injuries.
Main Strength: Finishing
I can’t think of a better finisher of the ball than Fernando Torres in today’s game. Stick the Spaniard in a one-on-one situation, heck even a three-on-one, and, chances are, he will skin both defenders and stick it away with ease. He makes goalscoring look so easy, with some composed finishing and neat ball work in tight spaces. That’s another thing with Torres, he not only has the pace to skin a defender but the skills to do so, as well as the know-how to beat a man to the ball from set-peices. You’d be hard-pressed to find a defender who hasn’t been made to look foolish by the Liverpool No.9, just ask Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd), who was supposedly one of the world’s best defenders last season, and yet Torres tore chunks out of him at Old Trafford, both last season and this season.
Top Goalscorer Odds: 4/1 Coral
The four mentioned above are what I consider to be the main contenders for the crown. Carlos Tevez (Man City) could be a possible outsider but I can’t see him scoring enough regular goals to put him in the frame.
A few factors that could affect the outcome:
Injuries (both to themselves and team-mates, as players like Defoe thrive on a quality supply)
Discipline (Be careful of fiery characters; such as Wayne Rooney, who can lose his cool when things aren’t going his way which could then lead to a suspension)
Form (For both the player and the team)
There are others, things like off the pitch problems with club debts, transfers, hiring and firing of managers etc. All of which could affect the overall morale of a camp, but they are the main ones that could come up with off the top of my head.
Our Golden Boot Pick: Fernando Torres
If he’s fit; he starts. If he starts; you’d fancy him to score. It’s as simple as that for us. Torres could go games without a goal and yet he would still have it within him to pull a hat-trick out of the blue. He’s immensely talented, one of the very best strikers on the planet when in tip-top shape, and an injury free end to the season would make him a very strong candidate for the crown as the two goal deficit he faces at the moment is nothing for him, especially now Drogba will miss the best part of January’s fixtures.
Odds: 4/1 Coral