Christian Benteke is one of the Premier League's scariest strikers.
There is no role in soccer more glamorous than that of a goalscorer.
Don’t get me wrong: every single man on the pitch is important. The best way to win still remains to give up fewer goals than the other team, making defending and goalkeeping essential.
Midfielders are the straw that stirs the drink, as the men located in the centre of the pitch are responsible for springing nearly every offensive attack and defensive stoppage.
However, it has always rung true: goalscorers are the moneymakers. Theirs are the names that kids want on their shirt. They are the ones securing big-money moves to oil-rich sides each and every transfer window.
At the end of the day, each and every child who kicks a ball dreams of being a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, not a Thiago Silva or Nemanja Vidic.
This is what makes the 2013-14 Premier League campaign so compelling. Despite this season still being in its infancy, a look at the goalscoring rankings provides a few surprises.
Sergio Aguero (or AGUEROOOOO as he’ll forever be known) finds himself with three as well, as City have overcome a disappointing loss at Cardiff City to climb back up the table.
Newcomers Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo have each tallied two, the Spaniards having little trouble in adapting to life across the English Channel.
However, the trio at the very top have all differentiated themselves from the rest of the pack. Some may say they’ve been surprising. Some may say they’re overachieving or merely off to a great run of form.
There are three players with four goals apiece. At the top of the charts, we see a "big club" cast-off trying to prove the doubters wrong, an in-form finisher who has a shiny new passer at his disposal and, finally, a physical beast who is looking to carry his club in each and every game.
What can’t be denied is that these three have been the top threats in the young Premier League season. Let’s take a look at this year’s top trio, as we try to figure out which of the three has the best chance of long-term success.
Daniel Sturridge was unnecessary. He was selfish, lazy and surplus to requirements. He refused to play on the wing. He refused to pass the ball. Overall, he refused to be a top-class player.
Oh, how wrong Chelsea turned out to be.
Since his arrival on Merseyside, Daniel Sturridge has been a revelation. The former Chelsea and City man has scored 14 goals in his first 19 contests while donning the famous red.
However, Sturridge’s magnum opus might just have been his first four games this season, as the 24-year-old was able to score Liverpool’s first four goals of the campaign, leading the way to the Reds capturing 10 of the first 12 available points.
Sturridge has been clinical. Sturridge has been clutch. Sturridge has been smart. Essentially, Sturridge has been immense for a side looking to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in what feels like generations.
However, from this point forward, Sturridge’s skills are going to be on the backburner as the return of a certain enigmatic and reviled "genius" has given Liverpool a new cutting edge.
Luis Suarez is elite. There is no debate. He is one of the top players in Europe at the moment. He can dribble, he can score and he can pass. However, his decision-making is, at best, highly questionable as Suarez always finds a way to make headlines.
However, where does Suarez fit into this team? How does it affect Sturridge?
How many goals will Daniel Sturridge score this season?
While it is hard to base statistics off one game, Suarez’s return looks to have had little impact on Sturridge’s ability to get shots off.
Through the first five games of Liverpool’s Premier League campaign, Liverpool’s lone striker was averaging 3.2 shots per game. Suarez’s return game against Manchester United yielded three shots for the young Englishman, although he couldn’t find his goalscoring touch.
Suarez’s return will no doubt affect Sturridge’s play. Whether it is positive or negative remains to be seen. Will Suarez be content with setting up the in-form striker or are there not enough goals to go around for both to stay at the top of the scoring tables?
We’ll have to see, but if Suarez and Sturridge can coexist like they did in their brief time together last season, look for Sturridge’s totals to show a small dip but stay amongst the country's top scorers.
Prediction: 19 goals
Okay, let’s get this out of the way before we go any further: Benteke is at a major disadvantage here.
The Belgian behemoth will be out up to six weeks, according to the BBC, after sustaining a hip injury against Norwich.
However, despite missing what could amount to roughly a sixth of the Premier League season, Christian Benteke has an advantage in that he is literally Villa’s only option.
Don’t get me wrong. Gabby Agbonlahor is a serviceable finisher. But he is far from Christian Benteke.
If you are looking for a prototypical Premier League forward, Benteke is it. His sheer power is arguably unmatched by any forwards in the top flight. However, his surprising bursts of pace makes him a tough matchup for any defender.
Benteke is the ultimate target man, and Villa know it. They work hard to get their star on the ball at each and every opportunity, giving Benteke the chance to score in each every game he sees the field.
The best example of Benteke’s explosiveness was his opening-day thrashing of league leaders Arsenal as the Belgian international absolutely mauled Gooner defenders on his way to bagging a brace.
How many goals will Christian Benteke score this season?
Benteke has the ability to do this week in and week out, as the 6'3" Belgian seems to elevate his play to another against the country’s top sides, as evidenced by his goal against Chelsea.
For Villa to stay afloat, they will need Benteke to carry the load. Without their hulking striker, Villa are a mediocre side at best and the lack of a true star would doom the Villans to a relegation battle.
However, with Benteke, Villa can take the scalp of any team on any given day. Just ask Arsenal.
The main thing is making sure Benteke can stay healthy from this point forward. If Benteke is able to stay fit after recovering from his latest injury, expect him to stay near the top all season when it comes to goalscoring.
Prediction: 22 goals
Don’t look now, but Arsenal are top of the league.
The Gunners are playing the type of free-flowing, attack-minded soccer that fans have come to love and Arsenal are second in the league in goals scored.
While Aaron Ramsey’s contributions have been spectacular, a lot of credit has to go to Frenchman Olivier Giroud for Arsenal’s recent run of four straight wins.
Giroud has scored in four different games, with his most important being the lone goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals Tottenham.
However, with Giroud, things look to be getting even better as the introduction of Mesut Ozil has given Giroud support from one of the world’s best passers.
Ozil has been the cog in both Germany and Real Madrid’s offences for years, as the star midfielder has been amongst Europe’s best in setting up teammates for goalscoring opportunities.
Ozil’s introduction gives Giroud the chance to play with the best playmaker he has every played with. With no offence to Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla, Ozil is a top midfielder and Giroud’s play is going to show it.
How many goals will Olivier Giroud score this season?
Have a look at the video included above. Ozil's touch to bring down that 50-yard through ball is absolutely absurd. The German is able to settle with the softest of touches but then has the awareness to spot the darting Frenchman with the slightest of head turns.
Ozil then places the ball on a platter for Giroud to hammer home, giving Giroud one of the easiest goals he'll ever score.
Giroud will benefit more than any other player from any of this summer’s transfer activity, as Ozil is tailor-made to get Giroud’s name on to the score sheet.
Look for Giroud to surprise a few people at year’s end, as the Frenchman will most certainly be the leading scorer from the trio listed here.
Prediction: 25 goals
Which of these three do you see as the most likely to continue their top form? Can Sturridge prove the haters wrong? Is Benteke the Premier League's best power forward? Will Ozil's introduction make Giroud elite? Have your say with a comment below or tweet @R_Tolmich for discussion and banter!