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20 Best Premier League Strikers of All Time

Dan FitchFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2013

20 Best Premier League Strikers of All Time

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    Since the launch of the Premier League back in 1992, we've been lucky enough to see some of the world's greatest strikers in the EPL.

    Over a 20-year period, during which England enjoyed what now seems like a bumper crop of world class strikers and Premier League clubs found the finance to buy the best attackers from around the globe, we have been treated to goals, goals, goals.

    Ranking the best strikers from the Premier League's history is a very difficult task, but I've given it a go. With so many great strikers who possess so many different attributes, I've no doubt that you will have some different opinions.

    So check out my 20 best Premier League strikers of all time and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

20. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

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    Leeds United 1997 to 1999, Chelsea 2000 to 2004, Middlesbrough 2004 to 2006, Charlton 2006 to 2007

    It may be surprising to some that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is ranked tenth on the list of the Premier League's all-time scorers with 127 goals in 288 games.

    Signing for Leeds in 1997, the Dutch predator scored at a rate of almost a goal every other game during his two seasons at Elland Road. His form won him a move to Atletico Madrid where the goals continued to flow, persuading Chelsea to bring him back to the Premier League in 2000.

    Hasselbaink scored 23 goals in 35 games in his debut season at Chelsea and then repeated this feat exactly in his second season. In four seasons at Stamford Bridge, Hasselbaink scored 70 goals in 136 games.

19. Carlos Tevez

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    West Ham 2006 to 2007, Manchester United 2007 to 2009, Manchester City 2009 to Present

    It took time for the goals to start flowing for Carlos Tevez in the Premier League. Having signed for West Ham in the August of 2006, he didn't score his first goal until March 2007, but then went on a run of scoring form that saw the Argentinean almost single-handedly save the club from relegation.

    His exploits won him a move to Manchester United where his work ethic made him a favourite at Old Trafford before a controversial transfer to Manchester City. It was at City that Tevez proved that he could be a relentless goalscorer, as well as a tireless worker. Tevez scored 23 goals in 2009-10, followed by 20 in 2010-11.

    Tevez has since soured that record by abandoning the club for several months to try and win a transfer, but since returning to the City-fold, he has continued where he left off on the scoring front.

    To date, Tevez has scored 79 Premier League goals in 179 games, with 53 scored in appearances for Manchester City.

18. Les Ferdinand

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    QPR 1992 to 1995, Newcastle 1995 to 1997, Tottenham Hotspur 1997 to 2003, West Ham 2003, Leicester City 2003 to 2004, Bolton Wanderers 2004 to 2005

    It's easy to forget how much of a handful Les Ferdinand was during his halcyon years at QPR and Newcastle, back in the formative years of the Premier League.

    During his first five Premier League seasons, Ferdinand's pace, power, finishing and heading ability saw him break the 20-goal barrier on three occasions, scoring 101 goals in just 178 games. 

    After his move to an admittedly poor Tottenham side, Ferdinand's goalscoring touch deserted him somewhat, but by then he'd already established himself as a Premier League legend. 

17. Dimitar Berbatov

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    Tottenham Hotspur 2006 to 2008, Manchester United 2008 to 2012, Fulham 2012 to Present

    Dimitar Berbatov joined Spurs and the Premier League from Germany in 2006, with the Bulgarian quickly establishing himself as not just a dangerous goalscorer, but also a wonderful player to watch.

    Berbatov's languid style has frustrated some during his time in the Premier League, yet ultimately his array of skills have made him one of the most gifted talents on show. Able to lead the line or play in a deeper role as a second striker, Berbatov may not have hit the heights expected of him at Manchester United, but those with a taste for the sublime at Old Trafford would have been disappointed when he left.

    Still, Berbatov did score a highly impressive 20 goals in 32 games in the 2010-11 season, which saw him pick up the Premier League Golden Boot. He's now plying his magical trade at Fulham, and the fans at Craven Cottage are truly lucky to be witnessing such a player.

16. Fernando Torres

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    Liverpool 2007 to 2011, Chelsea 2011 to Present

    You wouldn't rank him in the top 20 Premier League strikers (or arguably the top 100) if you'd only seen Fernando Torres play for Chelsea, but during his time at Liverpool the Spaniard was truly breathtaking.

    In four seasons Torres scored 65 goals in 102 Premier League games for Liverpool. Playing as a lone front-man, Torres' pace, finishing and movement made him as deadly a striker as there was in the Premier League during that period.

    He often suffered with injuries at Anfield, and these have arguably been the cause of his poor form since signing for Chelsea in a £50m deal.

    Now reunited with his former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez at Chelsea, time looks to be running out on Torres' Premier League career.

15. Ian Wright

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    Arsenal 1992 to 1998, West Ham 1998 to 1999

    Ian Wright was just four months away from his 29th birthday when the Premier League kicked off in 1992 and yet still managed to cram in 113 goals in just 223 appearances.

    Having joined the professional ranks at a relatively old age, Wright was always a late-starter. Once given his chance, however, Wright proved that he was a deadly goalscorer who was just as liable to score with an audacious effort that could take your breath away as he was to get a tap-in on the line.

    Few players have ever seemed hungrier for goals than Wright, so perhaps it's no surprise that he continued scoring them in the Premier League at such an impressive rate right into his mid-thirties.

14. Matt Le Tissier

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    Southampton 1992 to 2002

    Matt Le Tissier wasn't just unusual for the fact that he was a one-club man (and an unfashionable club at that) in an era when the best players tended to gravitate towards the best clubs in big-money transfers.

    He was also a uniquely gifted English player. Let's face it, there aren't many English players who can claim to have been Xavi's childhood hero. 

    As a deep-lying striker, Le Tissier was capable of moments of genuine genius. He was at his most potent in three golden seasons between 1992 and 1995, twice breaking the twenty-goal barrier.

    In total Le Tissier scored 102 Premier League goals for the Saints, and the vast majority of them were a pleasure to watch. 

13. Robin Van Persie

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    Arsenal 2004 to 2012, Manchester United 2012 to Present

    For many years, Robin van Persie was something of an enigma. Undoubtedly talented, van Persie's seasons at Arsenal were continually blighted by injury. Up until 2010, the highest total of Premier League goals that van Persie had scored in a single season was 11.

    What could he achieve in a season without injury, one wondered?

    We were given a glimpse when, free from the shadow of Thierry Henry, the Dutch striker scored 18 goals in 25 games for Arsenal in 2010-11. He then followed this up with 30 goals in 38 EPL games last season.

    That effort won Van Persie a move to Manchester United where he has hit 17 goals in 22 league games to date.

    Robin van Persie has been the Premier League's top player for a season and a half now. If I were to write this list again in five years time, I imagine he would be ranked much higher, having greatly added to his record of 113 Premier League goals in 216 games.

12. Didier Drogba

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    Chelsea 2004 to 2012

    Didier Drogba scored exactly 100 Premier League goals during his eight seasons at the club and defined the role of the lone striker.

    With pace, power and immense heading ability, Drogba was the perfect battering ram for a muscular Chelsea side that was built by Jose Mourinho. He twice faced the challenge of being replaced by the likes Andriy Shevchenko and then Fernando Torres, only for Chelsea to eventually turn back to Drogba.

    He was at his most potent in 2009-10 when his 29 goals in 32 games secured his third Premier League title medal with Chelsea. 

11. Andy Cole

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    Newcastle 1993 to 1995, Manchester United 1995 to 2001, Blackburn Rovers 2001 to 2004, Fulham 2004 to 2005, Manchester City 2005 to 2006, Portsmouth 2006 to 2007

    Andrew "Andy" Cole is the Premier League's second all-time top goalscorer, with 187 goals scored over 14 years spent plying his trade in the Premier League.

    A natural poacher, Cole's most successful Premier League goalscoring season came in his debut campaign with Newcastle, in which he scored 34 goals in 40 games.

    Surprisingly, this was the only time that Cole ever broke the 20-goal barrier in the EPL, let alone 30. However, his all-round game improved immeasurably during his successful stint at Manchester United, as he added hold-up play to his deadly pace and clinical finishing.

10. Gianfranco Zola

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    Chelsea 1996 to 2003

    One of the best things about the influx of money that came into the Premier League was that it gave the English audience an opportunity to watch a player like Gianfranco Zola during some of his peak years.

    Signed by Ruud Gullit in 1996, Zola quickly established himself not just as a favourite of Chelsea supporters, but also pretty much of every fan in Premier League football. 

    Zola was diminutive, but was still able to thrive in the rough and tumble Premier League thanks to the quickness of both his mind and feet. The deep-lying striker scored 59 goals in 229 Premier League games and was named the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year in 1997.

9. Michael Owen

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    Liverpool 1996 to 2004, Newcastle United 2005 to 2009, Manchester United 2009 to 2012, Stoke City 2012 to Present

    Many injury-laden seasons at Newcastle, Manchester United and now Stoke, have tarnished the reputation of Michael Owen, but we should not forget his time at Liverpool where he proved himself as one of the Premier League's greatest goalscorers ever.

    Bursting into Liverpool's first team at 17, Owen scored 118 goals in 216 games thanks to his lightning pace, predatory instincts and clinical finishing. Individually he twice won the Golden Boot as the Premier League's top scorer and even won the Ballon d'Or in 2001.

    It was persistent injuries that robbed Owen of his powers, and he has only scored another 31 goals in his subsequent eight years playing in the Premier League. 

8. Teddy Sheringham

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    Nottingham Forest 1992, Tottenham Hotspur 1992 to 1997, Manchester United 1997 to 2001, Tottenham Hotspur 2001 to 2003, Portsmouth 2003 to 2004, West Ham 2005 to 2007

    Teddy Sheringham scored the first goal in a live, televised Premier League game, and they continued to flow for years to come. Sheringham scored 147 goals and is the Premier League's oldest ever goalscorer, having scored for West Ham at 40 years old.

    Over two spells with Spurs, sandwiched either side of a trophy-laden period at Manchester United, Sheringham established himself as one of the smartest strikers the Premier League has seen.

    A clinical finisher and good in the air, Sheringham had the ability to drop deep and bring others into the game with his passing. He had no pace, but possessed a speed of thought that compensated for this and always allowed him to find space.

7. Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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    Manchester United 2001 to 2006

    Ruud van Nistelrooy was one of the most lethal marksmen the Premier League has ever seen. In five seasons at Manchester United, the Dutchman hit 95 goals in just 150 games.

    In four of those five seasons, Van Nistelrooy broke the 20-goal barrier and might have also done so in 2004-05 if injury had not restricted his appearances.

    In the 2002-03 season, Van Nistelrooy scored 25 goals to inspire United to the title and individually win the Premier League's Golden Boot, as well as the PFA Player of the Year award.

6. Robbie Fowler

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    Liverpool 1993 to 2001, Leeds United 2001 to 2003, Manchester City 2003 to 2006, Liverpool 2006 to 2007, Blackburn Rovers 2008

    Robbie Fowler's achievements are impressive, having scored 162 times to put him fourth on the list of all-time Premier League goalscorers. Yet, such were his talents that there will always be the feeling that he could have achieved even more.

    Perhaps the most natural finisher that England has produced since Jimmy Greaves, Fowler broke into the Liverpool team as a teenager and scored 120 goals in 236 Premier League games. Injuries, the rise of Michael Owen and a falling out with then-Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier saw Fowler move on to Leeds.

    He was still only in his mid-twenties at that point, but would only go on to score another 42 goals, spread between his time at Leeds, Manchester City and his eventual return to Liverpool. 

5. Wayne Rooney

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    Everton 2002 to 2004, Manchester United 2004 to Present

    No one who saw it will forget the moment when a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney grabbed hold of the ball for Everton against Arsenal, turned and from long range thumped the ball past David Seaman and in off the crossbar.

    Rooney was snapped up by Manchester United while still a teenager and to date has scored 136 goals in 265 games. Goals don't tell the whole story of an adaptable and tactically compliant player who has spent time playing as a lone striker, second striker, out wide and in midfield during his spell at United.

    Perhaps this adaptability has meant that Rooney hasn't quite hit the heights that we expected of him when he broke through at Everton.

    He has undoubtedly, though, established himself as one of the world's top players.

4. Dennis Bergkamp

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    Arsenal 1995 to 2006

    Many strikers on this list have proven their merit by their goal-scoring exploits. Dennis Bergkamp was such a good player that mere statistics could never sum up his worth to Arsenal between 1995 and 2006.

    A deep-lying second striker, Bergkamp dictated Arsenal's play and was the perfect foil for Ian Wright and then Thierry Henry. In Arsenal's 'Double' winning season in 1997-98, it was Bergkamp that won both the PFA and the FWA for the Player of the Year.

    In total Bergkamp scored 87 goals in 312 Premier League games for the Gunners. When he did hit the target, moreover, the goals were normally sublime. Bergkamp is a two-time winner of the Premier League's goal of the season award.

3. Eric Cantona

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    Leeds United 1992, Manchester United 1992 to 1997

    Few attacking talents have shone brighter or provided greater impetus than Eric Cantona during his years at Manchester United.

    Cantona started the first Premier League season at Leeds, where he had won the old First Division title the season before, but was quickly transferred to Manchester United, where he would go on to become a club legend. Cantona always had an eye for an important goal, but it was his inspired passing ability that brought the best out of those around him.

    In his five years at United, Cantona would inspire the team to four Premier League titles. Scoring 64 goals in 143 Premier League games, Cantona was named as the PFA Player of the Year in 1993-94 and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1995-96.

2. Alan Shearer

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    Blackburn Rovers 1992 to 1996, Newcastle United 1996 to 2006

    Alan Shearer joined Blackburn just in time for the start of the Premier League's first season, rejecting Manchester United in the process. After a debut campaign in which Shearer shone but was blighted by injury, he then enjoyed three successive seasons in which he scored over 30 goals.

    It was in this period that Shearer was truly at his best. Before injuries robbed him of his pace, he was the total package. As likely to dribble past players and blast it in from 30 yards out as he was to score with a poacher's header from close range. 112 goals in 138 EPL games for Blackburn is testament to that talent.

    In 1996 Shearer turned down Manchester United again to join his hometown club Newcastle. Injuries meant that he wasn't the force that he was at Blackburn and had to adapt his game.

    Nevertheless, Shearer still managed to plunder 148 goals in 303 Premier League matches to take his total league tally to a record 260 goals.

1. Thierry Henry

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    Arsenal - 1999 to 2007 and 2012

    Two others players might have scored more Premier League goals, but when it comes to the total package, no one could come close to Thierry Henry.

    Arriving at Arsenal as a winger, Arsene Wenger quickly converted Henry to a striker, where his pace, power, dribbling ability and sublime finishing could do the most damage.

    In eight years and a brief loan period, Henry scored 175 Premier League goals for Arsenal, notching 20-plus goals in five successive seasons.

    It was all done with a touch of class from a player who truly lived up to the definition "poetry in motion."

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