The Hottest Strikers from Week Two of the Premier League
It's been a bit of a barren week on the goals front, at least for the out-and-out goalscorers.
We saw the first Old Trafford stalemate since May 2009, which was one of three goalless draws—a phenomenon that only occurred twice during 2012-13—while in other more fruitful matches the frontmen were simply not on the ball, with the majority of the goals coming from the supporting cast.
Interestingly, we also witnessed Tottenham Hotspur win their second game of the campaign with another Roberto Soldado penalty; despite numerous shouts, they weren't awarded a single spot kick throughout 2012-13.
Anyway, here's a short roundup of the action from the spearheads of the EPL attacks.
Fraizer Campbell, Cardiff City
Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City
After such a limp performance against West Ham last week, it did not seem likely that Cardiff City’s debut Premier League season would get the bang it needed in this week’s unenviable fixture against Manchester City.
Thankfully for the Bluebirds they have Fraizer Campbell.
Campbell was a threat throughout, his willingness to get about the pitch making life increasingly difficult for a depleted and therefore under-par City back line, while the normally excellent Pablo Zabaleta, who was at fault for both goals, will not have slept soundly after watching videos of his marking. In goal, Joe Hart did his part to endorse the theory that he is increasingly error-prone.
Still, the towering way in which Campbell not only threw himself at those crosses but also his energy throughout the match is highly commendable, and criticising the City defence does not take anything away from him.
Edin Dzeko, Manchester City
Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City
Although he was left out of last week’s roundup due to Manchester City not playing until Monday night—much to some people’s dismay—the imposing Bosnian opened the scoring at the Cardiff City Stadium, and, while the rest of his game against Cardiff was less than sublime, the brilliance of the strike itself was enough to see him into the list. That, and of course his omission last week despite playing well (but not scoring) against Newcastle United last Monday.
The departures of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and, more importantly, Roberto Mancini have given Dzeko another opportunity at life at the Etihad, and the 27-year-old looks ready to give it a decent shot.
Other than bursts of brilliance, his form since arriving from VfL Wolfsburg in 2011 has not been consistent, and Manuel Pellegrini revealed before the Cardiff game, as reported by the Daily Mail, that “I told him that if he wants to stay here we must see the player that Manchester City bought two years ago," and Dzeko will have to up his game if he wants to hold onto the starting berth.
And with this week’s goal, he looks to be doing just that.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Fulham 1-3 Arsenal
Although the French international’s third goal of the season came in fortuitous fashion, there is no denying that this is a much more confident version of the player who finished his debut Premier League season with 11 goals from 34 appearances. Who’d have thought he would be included in the "hottest" list two weeks in a row?
The prospect of Arsene Wenger bringing in another striker seems to have awoken the talent in the 26-year-old Giroud, and he has been going about fighting for his place in the correct fashion. In this game in particular, his work on the counter with Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski providing the width was effective, and he was unlucky not to put Arsenal ahead early on with a header that was cleared off the line.
But most importantly for a striker, for the third time this season he was in the right place at the right time.
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool
For all the doubters who pointed to how "lucky" Sturridge was with last week’s winner against Stoke City, it will be harder to dispute how deliberate Saturday’s effort was at Villa Park.
The 23-year-old is clearly relishing life at the forefront of Liverpool’s attack, a burst of form that has carried through the summer since beginning with the commencement of Luis Suarez’s ten-match ban.
Sturridge is at the age where he has matured enough to know what the right decision is, but still has enough of that teenage energy to bound about the pitch without looking like a decapitated chicken. His habit of dropping deep gave Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho an extra option and also enabled the wide midfielders and full-backs to get around the Villa defence.
Will this be his season of transition from precocious upstart to total professional? On his performances so far in this calendar year, the odds are in his favour.
Christian Benteke, Aston Villa
Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
This boy just keeps getting better and better.
On a tough night at Stamford Bridge in which Mourinho's trademark tight defence kept him largely under wraps, the 22-year-old still managed to force a yard of space for himself at the end of the first half and, as we have come to expect, he did not waste his chance.
It was perhaps a little lucky, with the ball needing the inside of the post to give it a favourable nudge into the back of the net, but the manner in which Benteke has built a lethal reputation was still evident as he beat a world-class goalkeeper with no time to think. The Belgian has scored 17 league goals this calendar year, a better rate than any other EPL player.
Villa will feel aggrieved that they did not at least come away with a point on the night, but there is plenty of encouragement to take from Benteke's ever-improving form.