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Kevin Phillips is entering his 19th season as a professional.
Cardiff City - 7
A 2012-13 Championship-winning goals-for tally of 72 stands Cardiff in good stead for their first go at the top-flight in 51 years, with them having a better goals-to-games ratio than Everton, who placed sixth in last-year’s Premier League.
The retirement of their 2012/13 top scorer Heidar Helguson is not as much of an issue at it seems, with five other players netting six goals or more last season, including Frazier Campbell’s impressive contribution of seven in 12 games, it seems that Malky Mackay’s team-based approach to goal-scoring has been working well.
However, to survive in the Premier League, where individuals regularly exceed ten goals—and often 20—in a season they will need a player who is capable of scoring even when the rest of the team is playing badly.
To address this, Mackay has invested a fee of £8.5 million in Andreas Cornelius, the 20-year-old Danish international who scored 18 in 32 appearances for F.C. Copenhagen and was an integral part of them winning the 2012/13 Danish league title.
Craig Bellamy’s experience will prove indispensable, and even at age 34 the winger still has his pace and will be looking to relive some old memories of shredding Premier League defences, all while trying to build on last season’s tally of ten assists.
Crystal Palace - 8
Having scored the second-highest number of goals in the Championship last season on 73, Ian Holloway won’t be losing too much sleep over how his attack will fare in 2013/14. However, with Wilfried Zaha’s move to Manchester United the Eagles have lost a player who was of almost critical importance to the success of last season, notching eight goals and eight assists with his mazy runs and direct style of play.
The manager has already moved to address this loss, securing a year-long deal for the vastly experienced 40-year-old Kevin Phillips, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Palace and netted seven in 16 games. Not a bad deal, considering Phillips arrived on a free transfer.
Another interesting prospect is 23-year-old Dwight Gayle, who arrived this summer from Peterborough United for £4.5 million. The young forward has an impressive back catalogue, scoring 13 in 29 games in 2012/13, and 29 in 42 for the year before. Gayle’s pace should provide decent foil for last season’s top scorer Glenn Murray (who scored 30) and Phillips, and is viewed as the direct replacement for Zaha.
Hull City - 5
Out of the three teams, the Hull attack is definitely the one with biggest need for improvement.
They scored the fewest goals out of the top 12 Championship teams last season, with their 61 goals coming from 16 different players, and, like Cardiff, lack that out-and-out goalscorer whose eye for goal can carry the team in times of need.
Manager Steve Bruce has made moves to improve this department, bringing in Yannick Sagbo from Evian Thonon Gaillard for £3 million, but the headline-grabber so far is the season-loan of Danny Graham from Sunderland.
Graham, a player who is not short of Premier League experience, enjoyed decent goal returns between 2007 and 2011, netting 74 in 191 appearances for Carlisle United and then Watford. However, after a year at Swansea he found himself second-choice behind Michu last season, and despite moving on to Sunderland in January his form suffered, with the 27-year-old failing to score for the rest of the campaign.
Whether or not Graham can return to form for 2013/14 is yet to be seen, and, depending on how the goal-scoring exploits of Robert Koren and Sone Aluko fare, it could be pivotal in Hull’s chances of surviving through to next year.
Strongest attack – Crystal Palace