The Hard Tackle takes a look at the five best performing strikers from the recently concluded edition of the Premier League.
They are the superstars of every team – the names most easily recognisable and players on whom each side primarily relies to end up on the right side of the result. The game may be constantly evolving, but the importance of a quality striker remains the same – to get the all-important goals for their teams, more often than not.
So, it goes without saying that the strikers remain the game’s big boys with huge responsibilities resting on their able shoulders. The Hard Tackle attempts to take a look at the five most prolific strikers of the campaign gone by as part of our End of the Season Awards.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang [Arsenal]
He was Arsene Wenger’s last ever signing, brought in to finally bring an end to the chain of inconsistent strikers that Arsenal had for a long time. And so far, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is proving to be every bit worth the money that made him Arsenal’s record signing around 18 months ago.
Playing his first full season with the Gunners, Aubameyang simply continued from where he had left off at the end of the 2017-18 season – he had remarkably scored 10 goals in the last four months of the campaign. And, at the end of this season, he has gone on to win the Golden Boot, quite a big feat in itself.
But, a further dive into the numbers shows just why Aubameyang was not just Arsenal’s top dog, but also one of the best strikers in the Premier League this season. The Gabonese had the best shot conversion rate of the players that are in our list – an impressive 23.4 percent.
Aubameyang also had the most xG in the Premier League this season, surprise surprise. And, he was barely off that mark (23.55 xG to 22 goals), which again points towards how well he took his chances. All in all, a first full season to be proud of for Aubameyang, and one would think that it can only get better from here.
Sergio Aguero [Manchester City]
20 – Sergio Agüero is only the second player in @premierleague history to score 20+ goals in five consecutive campaigns, after Thierry Henry between 2001-02 and 2005-06. Legends. #BURMCI pic.twitter.com/5o0MSDtcgL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 28, 2019
From the most prolific to a player who has become the epitome of consistency, at least as far as the strikers go. Sure, he missed out on the Golden Boot yet again, but Sergio Aguero just continues to astound with his ability to constantly be among the top scorers season after season.
In fact, in the campaign gone by, the Argentinean striker became only the second ever player to have scored over 20 goals in five successive seasons. With Thierry Henry being the only other player to have achieved this feat, Aguero sure is in some elite company. For context, the incomparable Alan Shearer just did it twice.
In the end, Aguero missed out on the chance to win the Golden Boot for the first time since 2015 by just one goal. And, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Aubameyang all clocking much more game time than him, one can only stop and wonder what could have been.
Finally, onto the really mind boggling numbers, Aguero actually netted more goals than his xG sum, while his assists (8) exceeded the xA number (5.23) as well. Add to it the fact that he also had a pass accuracy of 85 percent and one can argue that there’s no striker like him in the Premier League. Simply Kuntastic, but will he prevail in our End of the Season Awards?
Alexandre Lacazette [Arsenal]
Aubameyang was the superstar name in the Arsenal side. But, Alexandre Lacazette was the player whose graft went a long way in creating the spaces that his strike partner thrived on all through the season, which ended with him picking up the Arsenal Player of the Year award.
The season though, started with a major obstacle standing in the Frenchman’s way. With Unai Emery preferring a 4-3-3 formation, Aubameyang, more often than not, was the striker who was favoured by the Arsenal manager, meaning Lacazette was restricted to appearances off the bench at best.
But, once he finally got the nod from his boss, there was no looking back for Lacazette. If he wasn’t finding the back of the net, he would be a big part of the build-up play, something that can be noticed by the fact that he racked up 8 assists this season – Callum Wilson (9) was the only striker to provide more.
Finally, for the icing on the cake, like Aguero, Lacazette too outperformed the xG (12.03) and xA (4.10), which just goes to show just how effective he was with his opportunities in the final third. A real workhorse for Arsenal, can the French striker pocket our award as well?
Jamie Vardy [Leicester City]
From the consistent figures to someone who was far from it in 2018-19. Jamie Vardy had his phases when he was absolutely on fire and even outperformed some of the best players in the division. And the sheer number of goals he went on to score despite his inconsistencies in the end is the reason why he makes our list.
Till Claude Puel was in-charge of Leicester City, Vardy only managed to score in back-to-back games once. While the Frenchman’s style of play did not suit him much, Brendan Rodgers’ appointment came as a blessing. The former English international, in fact, scored in successive games on three separate occasions upon Rodgers’ appointment.
In the ten games that Rodgers oversaw, Vardy went on to find the back of the net nine times, doubling his tally for the season in such a short period. His shot conversion rate (22.8 percent) was quite phenomenal as well – only Aubameyang (23.4 percent) did better than him among the players in our list.
What makes his campaign even more impressive is the fact that he added to his enviable goal tally against the ‘Big Six’ sides with five more strikes this season. Vardy also was the highest scorer outside players from the ‘Big Six’ sides and was the first player from a non-‘Big Six’ side to win the Premier League Player of the Month award. Can he add one more to his kitty? Only time will tell.
Raul Jimenez [Wolves]
Finally, to round off our nominations, is a player who betrayed conventional wisdom to make a major impact for a newly promoted side. That Wolves finished the season seventh on the Premier League table to make European football is nothing short of unprecedented. But, without contributions from players like Raul Jimenez, it wouldn’t have been possible.
Arriving from the Portuguese league, which arguably has a huge gulf from the Premier League in terms of quality and the pace of football, Jimenez had quite a tall wall to scale. But, the Mexican striker was never overawed by it.
By the end of the season, the 28-year-old had scored 13 Premier League goals, the most any Wolves player has found the back of the net in the competition. With the tally, Jimenez also became the highest scoring Mexican in a single Premier League season. Among players to have not made our list, only Callum Wilson (14) and Harry Kane (17) had more strikes.
With all that in mind, it is hardly surprising that Wolves shattered their transfer record to sign him permanently in a £30 million deal. A marvellous debut campaign in the Premier League, but can Raul Jimenez win the fans’ poll in our End of the Season Awards?
Who do you think was the best striker in the 2018-19 Premier League season? Let us know in the poll below.