Who Is the Best Striker in the Premier League?
With an international break on our hands, now is a good time to analyze the Premier League more in depth. During this breather, Gabriel Jesus' prolific scoring nature has received plenty of attention. Of players that have at least 10 goals in England's top league, he has the best strike rate. But does that make him the league's best striker?
There is plenty of competition for that title, including his Manchester City teammate, Sergio Aguero. In fact, there are at least seven players with seven goals or more, which excludes Jamie Vardy, Alexandre Lacazette, and Alvaro Morata.
JAMIE VARDY'S HAVING A PARTY! What a goal! ðŸ¦Š pic.twitter.com/S1isWi2kxO
â€” NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 29, 2017
For the sake of argument, this comparison will focus on players that typically line up in a forward role, so the likes of Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne are not included. Let's take a look at some key statistics thanks to Squawka and WhoScored.
|Player||Minutes Played||Goals Scored||Total Shots||Shot Accuracy||Shots Outside the Area||Squawka Performance Score||WhoScored Rating|
Clearly, Manchester City strikers dominate the list as the team continues its torrid pace. They have scored 38 goals this season, which is 15 more than second-place Manchester United. The elevated goal numbers place a heightened sense of ability on the attacking players that seem to be working well in a scheme. That scheme put forth by Pep Guardiola has also included squad rotation, which is sure to continue. Just take a look at the minutes played category.
The much-maligned Sterling has been on the low end of the squad rotation and was sent home from this week's international friendlies. He's averaging a goal every 83 minutes this season, but it is easy to argue that he is not on the field enough for Manchester City. He has played just over 800 minutes between Premier League and Champions League play.
Sterling has battled injuries much of his career but has fallen victim to squad rotation more than injury this season. The same cannot be said for Aguero, who has played 826 minutes between Premier League and Champions League action. Manchester City's newly crowned all-time leading scorer is also showing no signs of slowing down.
Aguero has been scoring consistently for the better part of six seasons on one of the biggest clubs in Europe, with 129 goals in 188 Premier League appearances. If you analyze the minutes-to-goal ratio for all players that have scored at least 50 goals in the Premier League, he sits atop the list at a goal every 108 minutes, which is seven minutes quicker than Kane.
Jesus has not been in the league long enough to compare to the records of Aguero, but he seems to be the star of the future for City.
GABRIEL JESUS this season:
15 goal involvements already. 20 years old. The future is bright. pic.twitter.com/j2pAtiwtDS
â€” SeleÃ§Ã£o Brasileira (@BrazilStat) November 10, 2017
In addition to his lethal conversion rate in the Premier League, Jesus has added two goals in four Champions League performances this season. City seems prepared to reward him for his performance with a new deal after showing that he can overcome a major injury. Still, Jesus must continue showing his ability in front of the net to become more than just a mention in the top striker debate.
Alvaro Morata also has more to prove. He's been a great signing for Chelsea, scoring goals and working to be an all-around player. He covers a lot of ground for a striker, second only to Jesus and is scoring every 103 minutes in the Premier League while also adding three assists. His 13 big chances leads all forwards this season, but nagging injuries may have kept Morata from finding top form.
Love this! Lacazette and Mbappe copy each others celebrations in training after Alex scores... pic.twitter.com/ZfJZOvKMdz
â€” Renato (@th14Renato) November 9, 2017
Much of the same could be said for Lacazette, as many also get the feeling that he has more to show. However, he has been dealing with mystery benching rather than an injury. Arsenal made him a record signing from Lyon, but Olivier Giroud continues to take time away from the French international. Given more time on the pitch in the Premier League, Lacazette can be a consistent top-five striker.
Mohamed Salah fits into that same category. There is an argument to be had that he is the best signing of the summer. He's been Liverpool's most consistent player as well as highly durable, boasting four goals in four Champions League matches. Salah has completed 18 key passes, which is fourth among forwards. That puts him behind teammate Roberto Firmino, but well ahead of the other strikers in the discussion.
Lukaku has shown the ability to score consistently over the the last few years and has flourished since his move to Manchester United. However, he has not scored in the last seven matches across all competitions. It makes sense that United has not scored more than two goals in any of those games.
|Goals Per Season||2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||2015-16||2016-17|
Lukaku might be the strongest of all the attackers in this discussion. His hold-up play and aerial ability are often praised. He is also the most durable, but his consistency is now in question with a recent slump, now scoring every 141 minutes in the Premier League. Also, a statistical comparison of some of the league's top strikers after the first six games showed that Lukaku was covering the least amount of ground and scoring just 8.6 yards from goal on average. Only Vardy was averaging a closer scoring range.
Kane had the largest average scoring distance by far in the comparison and also takes plenty more shots from outside the box, as indicated in the chart above. Kane is Tottenham's highest-ranked player according to WhoScored. He is scoring a goal every 109 minutes in the Premier League and every 66 minutes in the Champions League this season. Transfermarkt has him at the highest value in his career right now.
Harry Kane bantered off the Saints whole defense pic.twitter.com/8j47u9Gveq
â€” get nick wright a girlfriend (@Snarkologist) December 19, 2015
Kane has improved in the air, holding up the ball, and is also using his left foot more. Taking a closer look at why Kane's Squawka score outperforms everyone else shows that the 24-year-old England international has created nine chances due in part to a passing accuracy over 70%. Perhaps what sets him apart from everyone on the list is his importance to his team. Tottenham rely heavily on Kane in the center forward role, so much so that some are worried if it could be the team's downfall.
Kane has scored 40% of Tottenham's goals this season, which is just above Morata. With Manchester City's goal scoring being spread out due in part to squad rotation, Aguero has accounted for just 21% of City's league goals. This reliance on Kane could be a detriment to Tottenham at some point, but it shows just how important he is to the team's success.
Statistically speaking, it comes down to Kane and Aguero, but City's ability to score at will and spread the goals around allows for rumors to continue on the possible sell of Aguero, a club legend. Meanwhile, Kane is at home with the Spurs and is looking to capture his third straight golden boot. The debate will rage on, but given all the numbers shared above, it's hard to not give the edge to Kane.