English Premier League: Top 10 Forwards Today
So after the the death threats, the injury hooey, the prostitutes and the general media circus that followed every "development" in the Wayne Rooney saga, the England striker has sensationally signed a new five-year contract at Old Trafford, citing his manager Sir Alex Ferguson's genius.
Hmm. Even if there is something suspicious and surreptitious behind Wayne Rooney's decision to resurrect his Premier League career, it is one which is of huge benefit to the Premier League.
Rooney is one of the top strikers in English and world football. Had he not managed to draw a line under his past indiscipline and fractious relationship with his club colleagues and manager, it is possible that Rooney may never have reached his true potential for club or country, and probable that he would have vanished from these fair shores forever.
It would have been impossible for "Wazza" to sign for fierce rivals Manchester City and London duo Arsenal and Tottenham could not have afforded the transfer fee and wage bill. Chelsea was his only destination, a move which could have ended the career of one of two other very talented forwards: Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba.
At a moment where Premier League forwards are in the spotlight more than ever—Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch for the wrong reasons; Dimitar Berbatov, Kevin Davies and Carlos Tevez for the right reasons—I rank the top 10 strikers currently wowing Premier League audiences across the globe with their goalscoring prowess, their pace and power and the skill and intelligence which often seems innate in the world's best players.
Ladies and gentlemen...it's showtime!
No. 10: Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City)
''Adebayor, Adebayor, give him the ball and he will score."
Until his acrimonious departure from North London, Arsenal fans loved Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor. He is, after all, blessed with abundant pace and strength and has the ability to score spectacular goals.
His foolish celebration in front of the same fans in his first match for new club Manchester City against his old club was unacceptable. And his international career was to come to a sad end after he announced his retirement following the terrorist attack on his team in the African Cup of Nations in January.
But with a hat trick in Europe in midweek and 60 goals in 135 starts for Arsenal and Manchester City since his move to the Premier League in 2006, Adebayor is still unstoppable on his day.
No. 9: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)
Eighty goals in 214 Premier League games.
Not quite up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer in terms of his goals-per-game ratio but the start of the 2009-10 Premier League season told you all you need to know about Jermain Defoe.
SEVEN goals for club and country, including a hat trick in a 5-1 defeat of Hull resulted in the Premier League naming the former West Ham and Portsmouth striker Player of the Month for August 2009. He followed this feat with a striking overhead goal in the first minute against Manchester United and then became only the second player in the league to score FIVE goals in one match, during his side's 9-1 drubbing of Wigan Athletic.
After a disappointing World Cup with England, injury has prevented him for scoring more valuable goals for Spurs, but he is expected to return to action next month and will look to quickly regain his international starting place from old teammate Darren Bent.
No. 8: Darren Bent (Sunderland)
The world ridiculed Tottenham Hotspur when in 2007 they paid Championship team Charlton Athletic up to £16 million ($25 million) for England forward Darren Bent after seeing him notch 31 goals in 68 games.
This reaction seemed justified when, two years later, they sold him on to Sunderland for a loss after he managed just 18 league goals in 61 starts, marginalised by a formidable partnership between Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane.
Sadly for Spurs and fortunately for Sunderland, Bent has proved a huge hit for the Mackems, scoring 29 goals in just 46 appearances for Steve Bruce's team. In fact, he was possibly the main reason that Sunderland managed to stay in the Premier League last year. His form has since been recognised by England manager Fabio Capello.
Still only 26 years old, Bent has age on his side and all of the attributes necessary to become an important player for his country over the next five years and enhance his reputation as a deadly Premier League forward.
No. 7: Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)
Dimitar Berbatov: skills, goals, vision. A very concise way of summing up the talents of the Bulgarian striker who is slowly becoming a fans favourite at Manchester United.
Like Tottenham buying Darren Bent, Sir Alex Ferguson took a big risk when he paid Spurs £30 million ($48 million) for Berbatov in 2008.
Despite 27 goals in 70 games at White Hart Lane, the player had not had the chance of proving his aptitude at the very highest level. In fact, he faced a fight just to start for his new team in the light of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney's stunning form.
But this season, he has had to take on more responsibility and improve his performance to ensure that United do not drift too far from leaders Chelsea—and his stunning hat trick against rivals Liverpool was the moment when he proved that he is good enough to follow on from the likes of legends Michael Owen and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
No. 6: Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)
Many great forwards have enthralled crowds at Highbury and then the Emirates in the Premier League era: Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry instantly come to mind.
Were it not for his unfortunate injury record, perhaps inevitable given his slight frame and quick feet, Dutchman Robin Van Persie would already rank alongside those players. Indeed, he has many similarities to his mentor, Henry, in that he joined Arsenal as a youngster who had raw talents as a winger.
Like with Henry, the peerless Wenger has managed to convert Van Persie into a lethal finisher and has seen a huge return on his investment and time. Van Persie's record of 48 goals in 134 games is sure to improve when he returns, especially as Arsenal has managed to persuade Marouane Chamakh to sign and influential captain Cesc Fabregas to remain in North London—two players who will provide Van Persie with numerous goalscoring opportunities.
No. 5: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea)
It seemed at one stage that every club in Europe was vying for Nicolas Anelka's signature but none could tame "Le Sulk" as he hopped from one club to another.
Again, it was Arsene Wenger who noticed his huge talent at a young age and, having spent just £500,000 to bring him from Paris Saint-Germain to Arsenal in 1997, he sold him two years later to giants Real Madrid for a 2,000 percent profit!
Thankfully for fans of the Premier League, Anelka has since returned to England to wreak havoc among opponent defences.
Now at Chelsea following spells with Liverpool, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers, he has formed perhaps the best strike partnership in club football alongside Didier Drogba and has brought his league tally to 119 goals in 320 matches to make him the 12th-best forward in the league's 18-year history.
No. 4: Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
Fernando Torres signed for Liverpool from Atletico Madrid in 2007 as one of the most exciting young footballers in the world, seemingly justifying his £20 million ($32 million) price tag.
Since then, his record has been excellent: 57 goals in 86 Premier League matches. That he scored three hat tricks in his first season at Anfield—becoming the first Liverpool player for more than 60 years to score successive hat tricks—before equaling another club record by scoring in eight consecutive matches showed fans immediately just how good he was at such a young age.
Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, the uncertainty surrounding the club and the spate of worrying injuries which Torres has suffered has halted his progress and seen the club enter a crisis period which sees the team placed in the relegation zone after a quarter of the season's fixtures.
But at only 26 years of age and with new owners at the club and a more positive aura, Torres can again thrive on the service which England duo Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard should provide him with.
No. 3: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
No.3? Wayne Rooney?
Some will argue I have been very harsh to a player considered by many to be the nearest rival to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world. Others will suggest that this is somewhat generous of me considering his huge dip in form and problems in his personal life.
But yesterday's announcement that Rooney has signed a new five-year contract with Manchester United is great news for fans of Manchester United, the Premier League and England.
Ever since his first Premier League goal as a 16 year old on £80 a week, a 30-yard winner against reigning Champions Arsenal, his rise as a footballing phenomenon has been meteoric: the big-money move to Manchester United, that Champions League debut hat trick the PFA Player of the Year 2010 award.
Unbelievably, he is just 24 still and with two of the game's greatest ever coaches keeping him focused and nurturing his talent, he will be back at his best very soon—a daunting prospect for United's rivals.
No. 2: Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)
With only 56 Premier League goals, you may be surprised by my admiration for Manchester City and Argentina striker Carlos Tevez.
But Tevez has become the driving force behind Manchester City's attempts to gatecrash the top four.
Despite their super-wealthy Arab owners already having spent more than £500 million ($800 million) to acquire the City and invest in the team and the infrastructure of the club, many of their transfers have been unsuccessful. Jo and Robinho cost City more than £55 million ($85 million) between them but had no impact whatsoever as City were outgunned even by Spurs last season.
However, this has not deterred the club. The owners' outlay in the summer was by far the biggest of all clubs in world football, with the exception of Real Madrid. As a result, City sit second in the table, propelled as ever by Tevez's charisma, hard work, passion and skills.
With seven goals Tevez is currently the league's top scorer and he has now more than justified his controversial move across Manchester.
No. 1: Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Despite few outside France or the Ivory Coast knowing much about Didier Drogba at the time, Chelsea owner Roman Abrahamovic put his faith in manager Jose Mourinho's judgement and paid Marseille £24 million ($38 million) for the Ivory Coast striker.
This soon proved to be a shrewd investment as Didier Drogba scored 16 goals in total in his first season and Chelsea won the league for the first time in 50 years.
Two years later, he collected the Golden Boot award for his 20 league goals and then almost led Chelsea to Champions League glory with two goals in their 3-2 semifinal defeat of Liverpool. In the final, Drogba suffered a career low as he was dismissed for slapping Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic and his team lost on penalties following John Terry's crucial miss.
Last season, however, he reached peak form and notched 29 goals. This season, he already scored six goals, including an opening-day hat trick against West Bromwich Albion and looks set to lead Chelsea to another league triumph.
Not only does Drogba boast 90 goals from 173 league starts but he also exerts real influence over his teammates and causes opponents numerous problems because of his peerless power and ability to hold up the ball and be the pivotal figure in attacking situations.
For these reasons, I consider Drogba to be the best striker currently playing football in the Premier League.
Seven Other Contenders Who Just Missed Out
Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur): 145 goals in 405 league matches
Kevin Davies (Bolton Wanderers): 76 goals in more than 13 seasons
Peter Crouch (Tottenham Hotspur): 65 goals in 260 league matches
Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton): 78 goals in 208 league matches
Salomon Kalou (Chelsea): 32 goals in 118 league matches
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa): 46 goals in 160 league matches
Louis Saha (Everton): 100 goals in 262 league matches