The Premier League may be (all too often, for some people’s liking) branded the most exciting league in the world, but the headline making strikers seem to be lacking for many of the league’s clubs.
Whether it be Chelsea’s strikers failing to score an away league goal in 2013, or Stoke City relying on Peter Crouch with Kenwyne Jones now refusing to play, it is cursing sides up and down the league.
Hull City (or is that the Tigers?) have recently acquired two of forwards to line up in their 3-5-2 system, where Yannick Sagbo and Danny Graham have underwhelmed and scored just three league goals between them.
The Tigers have signed both Nikica Jelavic (who started magnificently at Everton to find himself short of goals and out of favour) and the inconsistent but electric Shane Long; the difference between staying up so often comes down to the sides who can score regularly enough and Hull may have taken a huge step to that with these signings.
However, how many sides seem to be short of goalscoring threat? Possibly over half of the league have insufficient options as their front man – this may well determine the title winners, relegation candidates and European places.
With Manchester City leading the way (by far) in all goalscoring and striking options, they remain title favourites, while at the other end of the table, Sunderland would have greater hope of escape from relegation threat themselves with the striking talent of Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore.
Why is there such a striker shortage? Some may believe this to simply be down to mis-management at clubs or insufficient options being available, but there seem to be further reasons for less in the striker market.
With a developing footballing style across the country that functions on attacking midfielders being incredibly prevalent and influential, the striking position no operates as more of a focal point rather than necessarily the old-school goal scorer that players like Alan Shearer were used as.
Attacking midfielders (and some ‘wingers’) are readily available, up and down the league from Stephen Ireland to David Silva they are very much the vogue right now.
With Chelsea seemingly linked to every striker on the planet – often accompanied by Arsenal – there seems to be an insufficient number of forwards around to lead the line at the world’s top clubs, with a very limited list of names being produced as potential targets; this is reflected lower down the division.
Cardiff City, Swansea, Tottenham, West Brom, Stoke, Aston Villa and Newcastle all regularly linked with adding to their striking options, is an indictment of the sick state of strikers in English football right now, with many struggling to score through lack of chances and sides not setting up to ‘put it on a plate’ for the striker but focus more so on midfield runners producing the goals – a risky business for lower sides who are seldom finding the net and has plunged them into relegation mayhem. See Cardiff.
Strikers may be going out of fashion, but it can only be a matter of time before the forwards are reinstated as the central point of the team’s attack with a limited amount of quality number 9s available restricting many sides. The sales of Edison Cavani and Radamel Falcao last summer shows the market value for prolific forwards.
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