From Rooney to Van Persie via Aguero: The top 10 strikers who could win the Premier League golden boot

ANALYSIS
By Chris Myson

Despite Spain’s successful implementation of playing with a false nine at Euro 2012 this summer, all football fans love having a goalscoring striker in their side’s ranks.

The new campaign in England is fast approaching and yet again we are going to be treated to some impressive talent, particularly in front of goal.

The race for this year’s golden boot is to be a tough one to call and is arguably as open as it has ever been, with both Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and even Newcastle having claim to a striker with the credentials to outscore the rest.

With the opening day now just over a week away, Goal.com profiles and ranks the top 10 candidates to score the most goals in the new Premier League season. Do you agree with our choices?

10. Nikica Jelavic – Everton

Eyebrows were raised when Everton bought Nikica Jelavic from Rangers in January as they sought the goalscorer they have been missing for a number of years.

Having been a heavy scorer in the SPL, doubters suggested he would not be able to reproduce those exploits in the tougher surroundings of the Premier League in England.

However, nine goals in just 13 league games represented a tremendous start to Jelavic’s Everton career, with two goals in the 4-4 draw with Manchester United a particular highlight.

The challenge for the 26-year-old is to now replicate those goal returns over a full Premier League season. He will be first choice at Goodison Park and if he hits form early on, he could be a good outside bet to challenge the league’s stars for the golden boot.

9. Darren Bent – Aston Villa

Darren Bent is coming off another international summer of frustration, having missed another major tournament for England after picking up an injury which ruled him out of the closing stages of Aston Villa’s poor 2011-12 campaign.

With Paul Lambert now in charge at Villa Park, optimism is high again and Bent has had a full pre-season of action to get back in shape ahead of the new season.

The 28-year-old has been a proven goalscorer wherever he has been in the Premier League and once hit 24 goals in a league season for Sunderland.

He will get every opportunity to lead the line for Villa, for whom he has scored 18 times in 38 top-flight games to date and will be expected to enjoy a productive campaign.

8. Emmanuel Adebayor – Manchester City

Emmanuel Adebayor’s chances of topping the goalscoring charts next season rest heavily on whether or not his move to Tottenham goes through this summer.

As yet the deal has not been finalised, but the chances are the Togolese hitman will be at White Hart Lane before the end of the transfer window – it is in the interests of all the parties negotiating the deal.

If he is indeed leading the line for Tottenham and not sitting in the stands for Manchester City, Adebayor will be one of the leading contenders for the golden boot.

He scored 17 times in the league for Spurs last season during an impressive loan spell, and given their current shortage of strikers, would be looked upon as their main source of goals again if the move goes through.

7. Mario Balotelli – Manchester City

For all the off-pitch antics of Mario Balotelli, his emerging footballing talent is often overlooked. Still just 21, the Italian’s temperament is questionable but his quality cannot be criticised.

Suspensions and non-selection for spells of last season limited him to just 14 starts and nine substitute appearances in the league, but in those appearances he scored 13 times, many of them vital contributions.

His displays leading the line for Italy at Euro 2012, particularly in the semi-final against Germany, have prompted many to believe he is set for a big season at Manchester City.

If he can stay out of trouble, and get enough regular first-team action despite the presence of Aguero, Tevez and possibly Van Persie, there is no reason why he will not threaten the top of the scoring charts. But with Balotelli, you have to suspect things will not run smoothly throughout the full year.

6. Papiss Cisse – Newcastle

One of the signings of last season, Papiss Cisse burst on to the scene, scoring 13 Premier League goals even though he was only brought in during January.

Newcastle fans cannot wait to see what their new striker can produce over a full campaign and with his physical presence and ability to score spectacular goals, top-flight defenders will not be looking forward to coming up against the Senegalese star.

Playing alongside Demba Ba or possibly Andy Carroll, Newcastle will be hoping to represent a real attacking threat and if he can stay fit throughout the campaign, Cisse should be a consistent goalscorer to boost his cult status in the north-east.

5. Luis Suarez – Liverpool

It has been a tough 12 months for Luis Suarez at Liverpool. A season that started with frustration in front of goal in a tough spell where he continued to hit the woodwork and received diving allegations turned sour with an eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.

Towards the end of the campaign he finally showed his quality with some impressive performances on the pitch but the aforementioned problems limited him to just 11 Premier League goals.

Now, after speculation over his future, he has signed a new long-term contract with the Reds and will finally want to be in the headlines for all the right reasons.

Despite the signing of Fabio Borini, Suarez will remain Liverpool’s main man in attack and if he can put in a full, consistent, season, we know the Uruguayan has the finishing prowess to score a large number of goals.

4. Fernando Torres – Chelsea

With Didier Drogba now in China, Fernando Torres is finally the main man at Chelsea, a status he feels he has deserved ever since his £50 million move from Liverpool

With the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Frank Lampard behind him, the Spaniard will surely be licking his lips at the service he is likely to receive next year.

The formation will be designed around him scoring heavily and towards the end of last season, for club and country, he was finally showing signs of life in front of goal after a barren run of form.

It remains to be seen, though, if his confidence has fully recovered, and going from six league goals in 2011-12 to top scorer this season could be a tough ask. But, if anyone is capable of a dramatic turnaround in fortunes, it is Torres.

3. Robin van Persie – Arsenal

The last 18 months have been far and away the best in Robin van Persie’s career, with 48 goals having been scored in his last 63 top-flight matches.

The Dutchman won the Premier League golden boot last time with 30 goals and having finally got over his persistent injury problems – he played in every one of Arsenal’s league games last season – has proven there a few more prolific players in world football.

His future remains very much uncertain, with both Manchester clubs still circling and a stay at the Emirates not impossible. Wherever he ends up though, Van Persie is at the peak of his powers and, fitness permitting, will be one of the strikers to beat in the race for the golden boot.

2. Wayne Rooney – Manchester United

While last season was not a vintage one for Wayne Rooney in terms of his performances, the England forward still netted 27 league goals as Manchester United came within a whisker of title glory.

It was Rooney who found the target on the final day of the season against Sunderland and he was on fire as the season started, with hat-tricks against Arsenal and Bolton.

He has scored at least 25 league goals in two of the last three campaigns, having developed the ability to score consistently even when he is having bad games or poor runs of form, the sign of a true goalscorer, while he has become more successful in one-on-one situations.

Being moved onto penalty-taking duties has also improved his scoring record and with him remaining United’s main focal point in attack, it is hard to see him not being right in the mix at the top of the golden boot race once the season is reaching its conclusion.

1. Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

The Argentine proved he was a special talent during his debut season in England, scoring 23 Premier League goals in just 31 starts, including the title-winning strike on the final day against QPR.

Capable of scoring all kinds of goals, with his electric pace, impressive technique and ruthless finishing streak, the 24-year-old is now a year wiser and ready to give defenders a torrid time yet again.

Aguero has been in sensational form during pre-season and looks ready to spearhead City’s defence of their domestic crown from day one.

Many bookmakers make him favourite to top the scoring charts in 2012-13 and while it could be a titanic battle with the likes of Rooney and Van Persie, it is hard to look past the former Atletico Madrid star improving on last year’s tally and, like his team, standing tall above the rest.

Have your say

Do you agree with the order of our top 10? Which striker do you think is most likely to top the goalscoring charts? Have we missed anyone out? Get involved in the debate, vote in our poll and give us your own top 10 by leaving a comment below!

Follow Chris Myson on

‘He was the flop of Euro 2012’ – The Goal.com 50 panel discusses Benzema, Balotelli and more



Our Goal.com 50 panel were at Stamford Bridge to analyse positions 50-4 of the 2012 Goal.com 50.

Murray Dron hosted the discussion with Goal.com editors Carlo Garganese, Amar Singh and Peter Staunton, as the trio debated the rankings of our latest list.

Why always me? Mario Balotelli reacts to his controversial position in the Goal.com 50

Dear Goal.com,

Thirteenth? Excuse me?

I should introduce myself. My name is Mario Balotelli. You apparently have not heard of me, since you have listed me only as an afterthought in your Goal.com 50.

Perhaps, when you were compiling this list of the world’s best footballers, you were concentrating very hard on an absorbing game of beach volleyball on the television. Perhaps you were distracted by a passing fly. Whatever you were doing, you were not watching football.

I play for Manchester City. Did you know that? My club won the Premier League last season. This is a league containing the talented likes of Mario Balotelli, so to win it is quite some achievement, and I did so despite being in the same team as notorious hothead Mario Balotelli. That, I am told, requires mental strength.
Unless you were in some kind of week-long drunken stupor, you should recall the events of October 23, 2011. As my influence spurred City on to a 6-1 uber-thrashing of insignificant fleas Manchester United, my second goal, even more supreme than the first, provided you with the greatest photo in football history as I stood titanically still and displayed my message: “Why always me?”

Those three words have defined the entire year of football. My brother, Enoch, who is wise for his age, told me after the match that I was “the quintessential modern warrior-poet”. I am not sure where he gets these words from (I fear that he may be reading), but he is right. I am not arrogant, it is the truth.

You see, the question of “why always me?” was a rhetorical one. The answer, obviously, is “me”. Nobody can stop talking about me and what I do on the pitch. Or what I do off the pitch. Or what I don’t do off the pitch.

The stories went that I paid for everyone’s petrol at a station, that I dressed up as Santa Claus at Christmas and handed out money, that I visited a Manchester university library and covered all the students’ late fees, and more. I did none of these things, but you believed that I did. That tells you all that you need to know about the transcendental power of Balotelli.

As I write this letter, I am interrupted by the phone ringing. It’s Noel Gallagher again. I let it go to voicemail. “Can we go quad-biking together, Mario? Please? I’ll carry your helmet and everything!” the ex-Oasis man whines for the 56th time this week. I ignore him. Does Mesut Ozil get calls from Noel Gallagher to go quad-biking? Does Xavi? No.

I am the ‘now’ man off the pitch. This is clear. But I am also utterly superior on it.

My goals thrilled a billion fans; my celebrations inspired a million memes

Witness January 22, 2012. I come on as a substitute against Tottenham in a game that my team must win. I stamp on the head of Spurs captain Scott Parker, a man adored in this country because he is from the 1950s (approximately the year 40 BB on the Super Mario calendar). It is deliberate. But nothing happens. I get away with it through sheer force of personality. Nothing stops Balotelli.

Then, in the final seconds, I am fouled, get a penalty and bury it with the calmest finish that you will ever see. Pressure is nothing; it is a paper cup within my iron fist. I am only dimly aware of the concept of pressure in the first place because it has been explained to me by lesser players. They are weak.

Fast-forward to May 13. My team are playing QPR. If we win, we win the Premier League. But we are losing. I did not start the game because that would be too easy. But when we fall behind, I come on, and I make the difference.

Without my arrival at precisely the right moment, lying prone in the penalty area to flick the ball out to Sergio Aguero, the Premier League would not have been won. All the credit is mine.

Total English glory was already sealed, so I moved on to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012. Nobody expected me or my country to do very well. That was foolish.

First I scored against Ireland. That was easy enough. I’m not sure why Leonardo Bonucci covered my mouth as I celebrated – if he’d allowed me to belch Jay-Z’s ‘Big Pimpin” as I’d intended, you’d have put me top of your list there and then.

Then I battered the Germans in the semi-final. That’s not supposed to be possible. Germany win semi-finals, that’s just how it worked – but that was before Balotelli. My two goals thrilled a billion fans; my celebrations inspired a million memes.

To cap it all off, when it came to the final, I saw poor Fernando Torres and I realised that he needed it more than me. I allowed Spain to win. I am a footballing philanthropist.

There is no discipline in which I have not excelled in the past 12 months. That there are supposedly 12 players who define yet transcend this sport more than I is nothing short of ridiculous.

I am Mario Balotelli. I am football. Football is me. Always me. And you, Goal.com, are wrong.

Follow George Ankers on

Mancini demands respect for Manchester City from Tevez this season

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini hopes Carlos Tevez can learn to respect the club this season.

The Argentina international tried to fashion a move away from the Etihad Stadium last summer but was unsuccessful and spent six months away from the squad after the 47-year-old claimed he had refused to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich.

However, he came back into the first team towards the end of the season and Mancini hopes he can keep up his current behaviour.

“I don’t think I can change Carlos. I just want respect, for me and for the club,” the Italian coach told the Daily Mail on the champions’ pre-season tour in Malaysia.

“We don’t play and work because we earn some money – we start to play when we are young because we like football.

“I hope Carlos understands that maybe he made some mistakes.”

Another City striker with a reputation for causing trouble is Mario Balotelli and Mancini admitted it is tough to change the Italy star but hopes Tevez can be turned.

“This is impossible,” he said, when asked in Balotelli can be controlled. “With Mario, it is impossible. But, Carlos, maybe.”

Mancini: Balotelli can have a big future at Manchester City if he continues to mature

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has stated that Mario Balotelli has a big future at the club if he can continue to mature.

The striker had a good campaign at Euro 2012, scoring three goals, as Italy reached the final of the competition, and Mancini says that he can be even better at his job if he continues to improve his behaviour.

“I think Mario did well in the Euros,” Mancini told reporters. “I think he played well and I hope those performances for Italy can help him to improve.

“Mario is one of the best strikers in Italy because we don’t have, at the moment, another striker like him.

“I think that every time he plays well, like he did at the Euros, it’s important for him because it can help him with his behaviour.

“Then hopefully he can understand that, if he improves his behaviour, he can be better at his job. With the national team, he is an important player, but for us also he’s an important player.

“We spent a lot of money on him, he’s young and I think he can have a big future at Manchester City. It all depends on him, if he continues [to mature] in this way. He has everything.

“If he understands he can’t do what he did last season against Arsenal and Tottenham [where the striker was sent off in both games] and thinks only to play football, he can do really well.”

Mancini also hailed the 21-year-old’s versatility, claiming that of all the strikers at the Etihad Stadium, Balotelli is able to play in more roles than the others.

“Mario is lucky because he is young with his body and his attitude,” Mancini continued. “He can play as a forward or like a winger. So I think he can play in every position. Maybe, for me though, he is better like a striker.

“He’s played in that position a lot of times. Sometimes we play with him in front and Yaya Toure behind, like we did last season.

“With Sergio Aguero it’s different, because he likes to play nearer the penalty box. We have four strikers and, of these four strikers, only Mario can play wide.”