Manchester City Forwards Strike Right Note for Premier and Champions League Push

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Manchester City Forwards Strike Right Note for Premier and Champions League Push
Scott Heppell/Associated Press

The beauty of the Premier League lies in its competitiveness. The majority of foreign players who come to the league for the first time are taken aback by the depth of quality on display. There are no easy matches. Anyone, it seems, can beat anyone in this division.

Last season's run-in was a prime example. Chelsea’s title charge faltered after away defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace and a home defeat to Sunderland. They managed just one goal in those games, throwing their lack of firepower into even sharper focus. Their summer move for Diego Costa suggests the Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, got the message.

However, even with the addition of Costa, who scored 27 league goals in his final La Liga campaign with Atletico Madrid last season, Chelsea still can’t match the firepower on show at Manchester City, where four forwards will spend the season competing for a starting berth.

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In Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo, City undoubtedly have the most impressive group of strikers in the Premier League. All are worthy of a starting place in most sides, and all bring different qualities to the City attack.

Aguero is one of the best in Europe—certainly the best striker City have ever had on their books—with his pace and desire to go at defenders a near-guarantee of goals. He’s scored two already this season in two fleeting cameos, with his fitness still thought to be delicate. It’s a sobering thought that what we’ve seen of him in this campaign is nowhere near his best.

Edin Dzeko’s form in the final months of last season was crucial in securing the club’s second title in three seasons, and he appears to have picked up where he left off.

His deft backheel to David Silva for the opening goal at Newcastle was sublime, and he now leads the line exceptionally well. The Bosnian scores key goals and always has, but his recent improvement has seen him add aerial dominance, physical presence and sheer hard work to his game.

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Negredo may be injured, but memories of his 23 goals in his first 32 games for City, where he bullied season defenders with relative ease, are still fresh, and Manuel Pellegrini will be keen to add him to his options.

He is far from just a big man. He has a superb touch and vision, and, although he lost his goalscoring touch dramatically during the final months of last season, he will have benefited from a season in English football.

And, cliched as it is to say it, Jovetic is like a new signing to City. He missed the majority of the last campaign after a series of frustrating injuries, but during his fleeting appearances he impressed. A full preseason has seen him grow in stature, forcing his way into Pellegrini’s starting XI.

The beauty of Jovetic is he offers something completely different to the other strikers at City. The ability to drop deep and collect the ball, turn quickly and then look to create himself a yard of space by beating a player makes him a significant creative force and one who's difficult to overlook.

Costa doesn’t face anywhere near the level of competition at Stamford Bridge and is almost guaranteed to start when fit. With Fernando Torres looking a shell of his former self for a long time now and with Didier Drogba way past his best, Costa is far and away the club’s leading striker.

The burden on him to score goals will be large. One injury and a lack of goals would likely be a concern for Mourinho’s side.

It’s a similar story at Arsenal, where Olivier Giroud is the club’s only decent out-and-out striker, although, the news he could he be out for a sustained period through injury, via BBC Sport, may see Arsene Wenger rectify the situation before the transfer window shuts.

Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell remain largely untested in the Premier League, and Alexis Sanchez, although a world-class wideman, isn’t a natural fit as a lone striker.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

It’s arguably Liverpool who have the strongest set of strikers outside of the Etihad, with Daniel Sturridge and new signing Mario Balotelli both very capable marksmen and Rickie Lambert, who impressed at Southampton, in reserve. It’s a set of forwards that gives Brendan Rodgers options, but overall, they fall some way short of City’s quality.

In a league as difficult to win as the Premier League, anything which sets you apart from your title rivals is welcome. City have by far the best pool of strikers, and they will be hoping that gives them the edge they need to retain the title they won in May. And with progress in the Champions League a priority this season, strength in depth is vital.

 

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2014-15 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_

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