Tag Archives: top 10

How Daniel Sturridge Ranks Alongside the Premier League’s 10 Best Strikers

How Daniel Sturridge Ranks Alongside the Premier League's 10 Best Strikers
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Ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup fifth-round clash with Arsenal on Sunday, Brendan Rodgers has been praising Daniel Sturridge’s red-hot goalscoring form for the Reds of late.

According to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, Rodgers has said that Sturridge’s “best is yet to come,” while also ranking Sturridge’s finishing ability as on a par with fellow Liverpool striker Luis Suarez as the best in the league.

Having scored in eight consecutive games for Liverpool, Sturridge’s finishing has been a joy to behold this season, but how exactly does he rank alongside the Premier League’s best?

Here are our 10 best strikers in the Premier League, featuring Daniel Sturridge. Enjoy and make your picks in the comments below.

 

10. Loic Remy

10. Loic Remy
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With 11 goals and two assists in 21 league games for Newcastle United so far this season, it’s safe to say that Loic Remy has enjoyed a fine campaign on loan from Queens Park Rangers.

It wasn’t so long that he himself was linked with Newcastle—January 2013, in fact—but he opted to join Harry Redknapp’s ultimately failed attempt to save QPR from relegation.

Newcastle haven’t exactly been active in the transfer market in recent windows, but Remy will go down as one of their finest strikers in recent history.

 

9. Romelu Lukaku

9. Romelu Lukaku
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Sometimes a striker’s importance isn’t fully appreciated until he becomes injured.

Sure, Steven Naismith has put in hard-working shift after hard-working shift for Roberto Martinez in recent weeks—and he’s even scored a few—but now we’re beginning to see how sorely Everton miss Romelu Lukaku.

He’s followed up his breakout season with West Bromwich Albion last year with nine goals and five assists in 2013/14, spearheading the Blues’ charge for the top four.

Martinez will be anxiously looking forward to the day he has Lukaku back in first-team contention.

 

8. Olivier Giroud

8. Olivier Giroud
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He may have gone slightly off the boil lately—much like Arsenal as a whole—but 10 goals and six assists in 24 league games have been a more-than-decent return for Olivier Giroud.

As Mesut Ozil and Giroud come in for increasing criticism in recent weeks, one thing to note is that Giroud’s style of play—to hold the ball up and bring others into the attack—isn’t exactly the same brand of physical, direct and explosive play that Cristiano Ronaldo provided as an outlet for Ozil’s passes.

Still, Giroud’s excellent team play, work ethic and all-roundedness—not to mention a silky-smooth first touch—make him one of the finest Premier League strikers around, if not entirely the best fit for the Gunners.

 

7. Emmanuel Adebayor

7. Emmanuel Adebayor
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Emmanuel Adebayor’s moody tendencies are often played up by the media, but when he’s on form, he offers attributes that few other strikers in the league do.

His pace, strength on the ball and clinical finishing have yielded eight goals in his last 10 Premier League games since Tim Sherwood took over from Andre Villas-Boas, helping to propel Tottenham Hotspur up the table and keep them in contention for a Champions League spot.

This revealing article by the Guardian’s David Hytner may help explain the Adebayor enigma and why there’s still life in the 29-year-old dog yet.

 

6. Alvaro Negredo

6. Alvaro Negredo
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When it comes to Manchester City and strikers, Sergio Aguero will always dominate the discussions, but his strike partner Alvaro Negredo deserves more than a mention as well.

Powerful and quick, with a strong finish and a good eye for a pass, Negredo embodies the perfect Premier League target-man striker. And with nine goals and three assists so far, he has become Manuel Pellegrini’s first-choice strike partner for Aguero.

With a full league campaign under his belt—and hopefully a fully-fit Aguero by his side—Negredo’s best Premier League years in a Manchester City shirt could well be ahead of him.

 

5. Wayne Rooney

5. Wayne Rooney
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It’s easy to see why Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie frequently feature in the debate about the Premier League’s top strike partnerships: After all, they provide two different skillsets and are perfect complements for each other.

And even with his move to a more withdrawn, deep-lying forward position—at times to central midfield as well—it’s not as if Rooney’s ability to contribute to Manchester United’s attacks has waned.

Nine goals and nine assists in 21 games represent an impressive return, especially in a Red Devils side struggling to really take off under David Moyes.

 

4. Robin van Persie

4. Robin Van Persie
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And it’s exactly because of Manchester United’s inconsistent form this season that Robin van Persie is only in fourth place on this list.

Last year, he would probably have edged Luis Suarez in a similar list—and indeed, van Persie did finish ahead of Suarez for the Premier League Golden Boot.

What van Persie currently lacks in team form, he more than makes up with his clinical finishing and breathtaking technique. He’s scored 10 goals and notched two assists in just 15 league games this season.

 

3. Daniel Sturridge

3. Daniel Sturridge
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Our cover hero Daniel Sturridge comes in at third place on our list here, behind the two main picks for the Premier League’s best striker.

Put simply, Sturridge has enjoyed a phenomenal campaign by any Premier League standards: 16 goals and four assists in just 18 games, including seven in his last seven league appearances.

Since moving to Liverpool, Sturridge has matured and taken his game to the next level, becoming one of the league’s deadliest finishers. Scarily for the Premier League, at 24 years of age, his best is yet to come.

 

2. Sergio Aguero

2. Sergio Aguero
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Fifteen goals and five assists in just 17 games: One can only imagine what Sergio Aguero’s Premier League haul this season would be had he remained fit for the entire campaign.

Nonetheless, Aguero’s enjoyed a renaissance under Pellegrini’s tutelage. Once again he looks the complete striker he seemed to have become in Manchester City’s title-winning 2011/2012 campaign, before his form dipped amid injuries.

As a striker, Aguero has it all: searing pace, rapid acceleration, incredible strength and deadly finishing. But still, he’ll need to rid himself of injuries before he can claim to be the Premier League’s best striker.

 

1. Luis Suarez

1. Luis Suarez
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That title deservedly goes to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, who set a record of most goals ever scored in a Premier League month with 10 in December, and currently has 23 goals and eight assists this season—despite missing the first five games due to suspension.

A profligate finisher when he first arrived at Anfield, Suarez has improved massively every year and has become one of the best forwards in all of world football, never mind the Premier League.

He’s added the direct free-kick to his arsenal of abilities, while his relentless off-the-ball work and pressing mean he offers so much more to Liverpool than just his goals and assists.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

Liverpool’s Top 10 Best Central Defenders of All Time

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On Saturday September 21, 2013, Liverpool hosted Southampton with a notable curiosity in their starting XI: Out of the four defenders in red at Anfield, all four of them were center-backs.

Kolo Toure was deployed on the right flank over Andre Wisdom in the absence of Glen Johnson, while Mamadou Sakho, also a specialist central defender, was asked to play on the right given that Jose Enrique had picked up a slight injury.

So with Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Toure, Sakho, Wisdom, Martin Kelly, Tiago Ilori and Sebastian Coates—eight senior central defenders—currently on Liverpool’s books, let’s look back at the great central defenders in the Reds’ illustrious history.

Here are Liverpool’s top 10 best central defenders of all time. Enjoy, and let us know your picks in the comments below.

 

10. Alex Raisbeck

The first name on our list is probably a name that even the most ardent Liverpool fan might not recognize.

That’s because Alex Raisbeck made his debut for the Reds in September 1898 and was considered the club’s first star player. Signed for a hefty £350 from Stoke City, he led his new side to their first League Championship while also winning successive Second and First Division titles in 1905 and 1906.

He was noted for his speed and skill in the center of defence, and after returning to Scotland following his spell at Anfield, he returned to Liverpool as a scout.

 

9. Gary Gillespie

After arriving from Coventry City for £325,000, Gary Gillespie initially took his time to bed into the squad, given the outstanding form of the Mark Lawrenson-Alan Hansen partnership.

Eventually, though, after three years, he became a mainstay in the Reds first team and became the first-choice partner for Hansen.

A winner of many trophies during his time at Anfield, Gillespie also scored a notable hat trick in a home match against Birmingham City in 1986.

 

8. Mark Lawrenson

Gillespie’s predecessor in the heart of the Liverpool defence was Mark Lawrenson, a Republic of Ireland international who was the strength to Alan Hansen’s beauty.

Starting out as a left-back, Lawrenson was known for his tackling, strength and speed, making him a very versatile defensive player in a title-winning Liverpool squad.

Lawrenson ended his Reds career with five league titles, and is now more recognizable as a football pundit on the BBC.

 

7. Phil Thompson

And Mark Lawrenson’s own predecessor, alongside Alan Hansen (more on him to come) was Red, Phil Thompson, who joined the club as a youngster and made his debut aged 18 in 1972.

Thompson delivered the league title, European Cup, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup during his time at Liverpool, and was the natural heir to the captain’s armband after then-skipper, Emlyn Hughes, left for the Wolverhampton Wanderers.

After retiring as a player, Thompson returned to Anfield as a coach in Kenny Dalglish’s backroom staff, and also later served as assistant manager and caretaker coach during Gerard Houllier’s reign.

 

6. Emlyn Hughes

Emlyn “Crazy Horse” Hughes, Phil Thompson’s central defensive partner when the latter came into the team, happened to be the captain who lifted Liverpool’s first two European Cups.

Hughes was an integral part of the successful Liverpool teams in the 1970s, brought to the club by Bill Shankly and becoming an inspirational and popular captain under Bob Paisley.

Besides his strength and tackling, Hughes was also known for his skill and technique, and Shankly duly changed Liverpool’s playing style with Hughes and Thompson marshaling the defence: They would now build from the back, which would remain the Reds’ blueprint to this very day.

 

5. Jamie Carragher

When it comes to records, Jamie Carragher is second only to Ian Callaghan, having made 737 appearances in a Red shirt over the years and serving as vice-captain at Anfield for 10 years.

Carragher, a boyhood Everton supporter, made his debut in 1996 and was initially known as a versatile defensive utility man before Rafael Benitez saw his potential as a center-back and moved him inside with great success.

After winning a multitude of trophies, including two FA Cups, a Champions League and a UEFA Cup, Carragher retired in the summer of 2013, legendary status intact, to become a respected television pundit.

 

4. Tommy Smith

“Tommy Smith wasn’t born; he was quarried.” So said Bill Shankly of the Anfield Iron, who was every bit the hard man his name suggested he was.

Smith was a survivor of the first Shankly team, and soon resumed his role as one-half of a formidable defensive partnership with Emlyn Hughes to form a backline in an all-conquering team featuring the likes of Steve Heighway, John Toshack and Kevin Keegan.

He lost the Liverpool captaincy to Emlyn Hughes, with whom he had a difficult relationship despite being such a successful partnership, and in his later years scored the second goal in the 1977 European Cup final, bringing home the Reds’ second triumph in the competition.

 

3. Ron Yeats

Such was the impact and importance of Ron Yeats that legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly later referred to the big Scot as the turning point of the club’s fortunes and the “beginning of Liverpool.”

Arriving from Dundee United, Yeats joined a club that was still in the Second Division. But at the end of his first season, he had led the team back into the First Division and on to greater successes both in England and in Europe.

Known for his formidable size, Yeats was the perfect complement to Tommy Smith in the heart of the Liverpool defence, an inspirational captain and according to Reds goal-scoring legend Roger Hunt, “the best center-half I have ever seen.” Some tribute for some defender.

 

2. Sami Hyypia

Think of the finest ever Premier League center-backs and foreign arrivals, and the finest ever Liverpool defenders, and you’d be hard pressed not to include Sami Hyypia, who wore his No. 4 shirt and served as captain with distinction.

In 10 seasons at Anfield, Hyypia, who cost a bargain-basement £2.6 million, proved an inspirational signing and leader of men, sharing the stand-in captaincy with Robbie Fowler as he delivered the 2001 treble under Gerard Houllier.

While he eventually passed the captain’s armband to a certain Steven Gerrard, Hyypia’s no-nonsense, yet graceful style of play, and the uncanny timing of his headers led to many a memorable moment for the big Finn, who is now making his name as a bright young manager at German club, Bayer Leverkusen.

 

1. Alan Hansen

Eight league titles and three European Cups across three decades as a mainstay in the Liverpool defence, under Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish. Thus stands the record of legendary defender, Alan Hansen.

Cool, calm and collected, Hansen was an important presence in the Reds defence, and his longevity at Anfield was testament to his impressive ability to read the game and shackle an opposition attack. But we’ll let Paisley have the final word on the greatest central defender to ever play for Liverpool:

“Alan Hansen is the defender with the pedigree of an international striker. He is quite simply the most skillful center-half I have ever seen in the British game…I can’t think more than a couple of players who could beat him over 100 meters. He has both the ability and the patience to launch attacks from deep positions.” Bob Paisley on Alan Hansen

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and other Premier League-related matters.