Ranking Every Premier League Team on Attacking Talent
We’re 36 matches into what has been an absolute roller coaster of a Premier League season, featuring goals galore from a league full of attacking talent.
But how exactly does each Premier League team shape up in terms of their attack? Can the "goals scored" column accurately reflect the striking power of all 20 clubs?
Here we attempt to rank every Premier League team on attacking talent—and when we say attacking talent, we mean just the strikers. Midfielders chipping in with goals are a valuable component of a team's total goals scored, but for the most part we'll be ignoring those for now.
Read on for our complete list and have your say in the comments below.
20. Cardiff City
That Cardiff City's top scorer this season is seven-goal Jordon Mutch, a midfielder, says everything about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's beleaguered team, currently bottom of the Premier League with just 30 points.
The Bluebirds' only big-name striker is one well past his best (Craig Bellamy), and he shares a record of a solitary strike in the league with Kenwyne Jones, who has been extremely disappointing this season.
Fraizer Campbell has scored a few memorable goals this season, notably a double against Manchester City, but the fortunes of mystery signing Andreas Cornelius—who arrived for a club record fee of around £8 million last summer and left for a cut-price deal in January—sums up Cardiff's miserable season up front.
Simply not Premier League-worthy.
Like Cardiff, Fulham's top scorer is a seven-goal midfielder, Steve Sidwell. Their second highest scorer is also a midfielder in Ashkan Dejagah, which says just about everything about their toothless attack this season.
Dimitar Berbatov, having scored four league goals by the half-season, left for AS Monaco in the winter transfer window, leaving Darren Bent their current highest-scoring striker—with just three.
It is downright puzzling—and an absolute travesty—that a team boasting the likes of Hugo Rodallega and £12 million man Kostas Mitroglou, who arrived from Olympiakos amid such fanfare, has only scored 37 goals this season.
If Felix Magath manages to keep his side in the Premier League come May, there will be much reinforcement needed over the summer.
18. Norwich City
When Norwich City splashed out last summer for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who had been a coveted figure around Europe, and Gary Hooper, as well as securing the transfers of Johan Elmander and Luciano Becchio, no one imaged they'd round out the season in such grave danger of relegation.
What on paper should be a Premier League-level attack has not translated to actual productivity. Hooper has scored six league goals, but both van Wolfswinkel and Elmander have notched just the one goal, while Becchio has hardly even featured.
A dismal, dismal attack that has only itself to blame for the Canaries' current position. If it weren’t for Robert Snodgrass' six goals and two assists, who knows where they'd be now?
17. West Bromwich Albion
The Nicolas Anelka transfer wasn't supposed to end this way: West Bromwich Albion were supposed to have signed an experienced Premier League journeyman whose goals and know-how could help them in their relegation battle.
Instead, Anelka's controversial quenelle row ended in his sacking after having scored just two goals for the Baggies, leaving Saido Berahino their only flag-bearer up front with five.
Victor Anichebe has three goals, while Shane Long, also with three, has already left for Hull City.
If Berahino leaves the club this summer—entirely possible given the esteem in which he's held around the league—West Brom will struggle hard for goals next season, regardless of their Premier League status.
16. Hull City
Just how have Hull City managed to stay clear of relegation with such an abysmal attacking unit?
One shudders to think where they might be right now if not for their January signings of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long: Their four goals each have propelled them to the top of the Tigers' scoring charts.
Discounting their forwards, their highest-scoring player is midfielder Tom Huddlestone with three, a record shared by Jake Livermore and Robbie Brady.
Yet among the bottom 10 in the league in terms of goals conceded, Hull's goal difference (-9) is the smallest, which says it all about Steve Bruce's achievements this season.
15. West Ham United
Club record signing Andy Carroll was supposed to usher in a new era at West Ham United. He certainly heralded the summer exit of Carlton Cole—whom the Hammers had to re-sign on a free last October to cover for Carroll's injury troubles.
Cole now has six goals for the season, ahead of Carroll's two. In a team where long-ball football reigns king and a sole target-man striker is the focal point of the attack, just eight for both options is far from good enough.
Good thing Kevin Nolan—a midfielder, of course—is pretty handy in front of goal. Without his seven this term, and without his linkup play with Carroll and Cole, West Ham would have been in real danger this season.
14. Crystal Palace
Tony Pulis deserves massive credit for the way he's turned around Crystal Palace's fortunes this season, yet his attack has been an underwhelming unit.
Marouane Chamakh, much derided for his disappointing performances at Arsenal, has been much improved but has only notched five goals so far, while the Eagles' curious decision to shell out for Peterborough United's Dwight Gayle has been a resounding failure with just three.
Cameron Jerome follows with two, but it's indicative of Pulis' approach that while Palace are well clear of relegation, it's midfielder Jason Puncheon who leads the way with seven goals.
13. Aston Villa
Make no mistake: It’s been an exasperatingly poor campaign from Paul Lambert and Aston Villa. The only reason their attack finds itself in 14th place on this list is that man Christian Benteke.
Having set the Premier League alight last season, Benteke has failed to replicate his stunning exploits this time around, yet still leads the Villa scoring charts with a respectable 10 league goals.
Leandro Bacuna, a winger-cum-full-back, is second with just five, while Gabby Agbonlahor, who plays more on the wing these days, has four. Andreas Weimann has particularly dropped off the radar.
Villa aren't just three points away from the relegation zone without reason.
12. Newcastle United
Just like Villa, the only saving grace for Newcastle United this season is their 13-goal star striker, Loic Remy, signed on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
Newcastle have looked absolutely toothless without Remy—backup striker Papiss Demba Cisse has never recovered from his second-season syndrome and has only scored two this term, while midfield star Yohan Cabaye, who scored seven in the first half of the season, left for Paris Saint-Germain in January.
Remy has without doubt been one of the league's best signings this season. They'd be struggling near the drop zone—and Alan Pardew might probably have lost his job—if it weren't for him.
Having played most of the season with Jozy Altidore as one of their main strikers, Sunderland have charged up the rankings here due to Connor Wickham's recent goal-scoring exploits in their fight against relegation.
Wickham has scored five goals in his last three games to match Fabio Borini's efforts, while Steven Fletcher has proven to be a costly flop. Winger Adam Johnson leads the way with eight goals.
As for Altidore? He's scored once in 25 matches. After a similar record on loan at Hull City earlier in his career, it's become abundantly clear that he's just not good enough for the Premier League.
A "blunt battering ram" might be a description too flattering for him.
10. Swansea City
It's not been a vintage campaign for Swansea City—a far cry from their first-season exploits under Brendan Rodgers.
But with fan favorite Michu out with a long-term injury, at least Swans fans have had the pleasure of watching Wilfried Bony in action. The Ivorian has scored 15 goals in his debut campaign in the Premier League, where his physicality seems to be a perfect match.
He's had to rely on tremendous support from his goal-scoring midfielders—Jonjo Shelvey has six, Nathan Dyer five, Jonathan De Guzman four—but his goal-scoring exploits have kept the Swans up and is the reason they find themselves 11th on our list.
9. Stoke City
It's been well documented that Mark Hughes has attempted to steer Stoke City away from the physical football played under Tony Pulis, but it's no surprise to see Peter Crouch still topping their goal-scoring charts.
The beanpole striker has scored eight this season in a mini revival in form, while Peter Odemwingie and Marko Arnautovic have chipped in with four and three goals respectively.
Their total haul of 39 for the season so far has been vastly helped by six-goal midfielder Charlie Adam and four-goal Jonathan Walters. Hughes will need to strengthen up front to replace the ageing Crouch if the Potters are to climb up these rankings.
8. Tottenham Hotspur
Having spent more than £100 million strengthening their squad last summer following the departure of Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur have massively underachieved this season.
It was only after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas that Emmanuel Adebayor returned to the fold—to date, he's scored 10 goals for Tim Sherwood’s team.
Roberto Soldado, a club-record signing when he arrived from Valencia, has scored just six goals and proved to be an uninspired addition. (But compared to Erik Lamela, who broke Soldado's record transfer fee, at least the Spanish striker has contributed something.)
Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson's 12 goals (seven and five respectively) have been valuable contributions to the Spurs' goals-scored column, which still culminates in a miserly goal difference of +3.
It's back to the drawing board for Spurs this summer, whoever their next manager may be. A waste of a season—and £100 million.
How could Arsenal's season have turned out if Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey had stayed fit for the entire campaign?
Instead, Arsene Wenger has been left to rue what might have been as he's had only the inconsistent Olivier Giroud to rely on as his main goal-scoring outlet; 15 goals represents a decent return for the Frenchman, whose record has surely been hampered by Ramsey's injury.
Having been out for so long, Ramsey still finds himself second in the charts with nine. Lukas Podolski, another inconsistent option, has eight, while Walcott—reportedly ruled out for the World Cup as well—had his season terminated prematurely after scoring just five goals.
Behind Giroud in the pecking order are Yaya Sanogo and Nicklas Bendtner. Surely Wenger has to splash out on an upgrade this summer.
It's testament to Chelsea's overall strong squad that they have gone the length of a season without a 10-goal striker but still find themselves second in the Premier League.
Samuel Eto'o has notched nine goals, while Demba Ba has suddenly returned to the first-team fold (and is now on five goals), but Fernando Torres has continued to be a huge disappointment with just four.
Attacking midfielders don't come into the equation under our definition of attack listed in our first slide, but Eden Hazard's 14-goal contribution is more than impressive, while Oscar and Andre Schurrle have weighed in with eight and seven respectively. That's 29 from an attacking midfield trio.
Imagine what the Blues might be capable of if they add a striker in the calibre of, say, Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa this summer.
Now we move towards the top five on our list, which features five excellent forward lines to make any Premier League fan proud.
First up is Everton who, for their attacking exploits under Roberto Martinez this season, actually only have a 13-goal Romelu Lukaku to boast of. Steven Naismith's five goals have underlined his transformation from a much-derided figure to an important component of their attack.
But like Chelsea, Everton's goal contributions from the rest of the team have set them apart in their all-roundedness. Kevin Mirallas has eight, while Seamus Coleman is the league's second highest-scoring defender with six. Leighton Baines completes a golden full-back duo with five.
All of which sets up a promising future for the Blues next season, especially if they can keep Lukaku on board. Upgrade on Naismith, and Everton could find themselves even higher on this list.
Southampton might be eighth in the Premier League table now, but for the first few months of the season, they threatened to achieve a surprise finish in the European places.
Mauricio Pochettino has gotten this Saints team playing high-energy attacking footballing, and their numbers back it up: Jay Rodriguez has scored 15 goals, while Rickie Lambert has 11, making it a 26-goal strike partnership, augmented by Adam Lallana's nine.
A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament cruelly ruled Jay Rodriguez out for the rest of the season and beyond, severely blunting Southampton's attack in the end-of-season run-in, but this is still a formidable strike force to be reckoned with.
3. Manchester United
Sure, Sir Alex Ferguson might have been papering over some very noticeable cracks in his title-winning team, but on paper, Manchester United should be doing so much better than their current seventh place—which is why David Moyes has recently been let go.
Still, amid a lacklustre season, Wayne Rooney has hit 17 goals, while Robin van Persie has chipped in with 11 and Danny Welbeck, despite not being a frequent starter, has contributed nine. Javier Hernandez, likewise, has hit four.
United's defence might be leaking and creaking, and their midfield might be in sore need of a strong summer, but theirs is an all-star attack and under the right management should really be challenging the top end of this list.
2. Manchester City
Just like Arsenal, Manchester City have been made to rue what their season could have been if it weren't for injury—except City's injury curse has struck just the one player.
Too bad that one player happens to be Sergio Aguero, who on form is one of the best strikers in the world and has still scored 16 league goals despite missing much of the campaign. In his stead, Edin Dzeko has 12 goals and Alvaro Negredo has nine, making it an all-rounded strike force capable of launching City towards greatness.
Yaya Toure's 19 goals have been one of the season's highlights, while David Silva and Samir Nasri complete a formidable goal-scoring midfield with seven and six respectively.
After last weekend's results, the Premier League title is now in City's hands—but they could well have won it by now had Aguero stayed fit for the entire campaign.
Aguero's injury has directly opened the door for Liverpool to charge up the table—and for Luis Suarez to go out of sight in the Premier League scoring charts.
While the Reds don't exactly possess the most watertight defence, their attack has more than made up for any deficiencies at the back, scoring a whopping 96 goals in the process, with Suarez's 30 and Daniel Sturridge's 20 completing a 50-goal strike partnership.
Add in Raheem Sterling's nine, and this is a league-conquering attack. With Steven Gerrard's 13 and Martin Skrtel's seven, Brendan Rodgers' team is capable of scoring goals all over, though the spotlight will always be on their exhilarating front three.
We compared Liverpool's attack with City's recently. Our conclusion? Having missed Aguero for long periods of the season, City are second favourites here.
Now it remains to be seen whether Liverpool do come out top in the league itself.