Heading the ball is an aspect which only a chosen few can execute with accuracy. Though heading may look like a crude method , it is effective nonetheless. It is an important attribute to a player, be it a Defender or a Striker.
Here the Aerial prowess is mainly assessed with respect to two aspects:-
1.Ability to win the ball.
2.Ability to direct it
At the start of the season, Tottenham fans were exited about the prospect of having central defenders like Jonathan Woodgate, Ledley King, William Gallas etc. Michael Dawson was not on anybody's first choice list. But due to injuries to Woodgate and King, he got his opportunity.
He was an absolute rock for Tottenham last season. He managed to scrape out seven clean sheets in the games that he played. Standing at 6' 2", he is an excellent defender and is quite good at scoring with his head too. In fact, his first goal was a header against Stoke City at the City Ground for Nottingham Forest.
The 6 ft 4 inches monster has been playing the aerial game for Blackburn from 2007 and has been a formidable central defender ever since. Not only does he win aerial battles in his own half, but he has also been scoring 4-5 goals consistently for his team, most being headers. Last season he managed 7 clean sheets for his team, and also pitched in with 4 goals.
If one watches Blackburn matches closely, this is one thing which cannot be missed. Whenever Blackburn are in desperate need of goals, Samba somehow transforms into a striker. He stays forward to receive long balls from his team mates, and tries to score by utilising his aerial ability.
He was also recently linked with a move to Arsenal, but the talks seem to have broken down.
The athletic Trinidadian stands at 6 ft 2 inches, and is the main striker for Stoke City. Stoke signed him for a club record fee of £8 million from Sunderland. An exceptional header of the ball, he has consistently scored for Sunderland, and more recently for Stoke City. Though last season he was sidelined due to injury for quite sometime, he still managed to score 9 goals and provide two assists.
His is especially dangerous when he is fed with good crosses near the goal, as his header directing ability is quite exceptional. Also his manager, Tony Pulis believes that the best is yet to come for the 26 year old.
The beast from Greece, stands at 6 ft 4 inches, had a reputation for his aerial ability even berore he joined Liverpool.
Having scored 21 goals throughout his career, he also is known for his goal scoring ability. For Liverpool, he is usually given the duty of marking opponents with good aerial ability, Eg Carroll against Newcastle, Fellaini against Everton to name a few.
His only weakness is that, he often gives away free-kicks while attempting to win headers. But he does make up for it, with his tough and no-nonsense defending.
Chelsea's Mr. Dependable.He is someone who can both, defend and score goals with equal ease. His 6 ft 1 1⁄2 inches height, strong physique and an incredible jump helps him to win headers from the most formidable of opponents. After all, a captain's got to use his head.
Last season, like most others before that, was a great one for the Chelsea skipper. Defensively, he managed an astonishing 14 clean sheets. Not only that,Chelsea conceded fewer headed goals than any other side in the Premier League team last season. He also scored 3 vital goals for his team, and pitched in with two assists.
Controversies aside, he is a great defender and captain for Chelsea. His name will surely go down in the history books.
Standing at 6 ft 7 inches he is one of the tallest player in the league, second only to Nikola Zigic. Normally you'd expect a player with such a tall stature to top the list, but no. Even though he can tower over any defender in the world, his neck is almost as if it is made of stiff rubber. And without a flexible neck or back, his headers go wayward quite often.
Not only is he good at heading, but he also has a good first touch and is quite good with his legs. His hat-trick against Arsenal is a testimony to that, scoring goals with his right foot, left foot and his head ( sometimes referred to as the perfect hat-trick). His heading prowess also earned him chants of "He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed, Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch" from the Liverpool fans.
He's been playing Bolton's long ball game from the past 6 to 7 years. Of the 61 goals he's scored for the team so far, most of them have come from heading in from set-piece deliveries or from crosses and long balls.
His 6 foot stature and a giant athletic leap, makes his aerial ability one of the best in the league. He also has the uncanny gift of a very flexible neck, which helps in directing his headers accurately.
The Serbian is one of the best defenders in the premier league currently. By winning aerial battles at both ends of the field, he played a vital part in United's 19th title. He has a fantastic leap and he heads the ball with power and direction.
Last season he scored 5 goals , most of them being headers. He comes up front for almost every set piece and corner and makes sure he gets his head to it. He does get a little rough while defending aerially, and he ends up conceding free kicks, but there is no doubting his aerial prowess.
Tall, strong and athletic. His head cost Liverpool, a British record fee of £ 35 million. Standing at 6 ft 3 inches, the height factor enables him to tower over defenders. Not only is he tall, but he has a good leap too ( Anti-Carroll people believe he should have been a basketball player).
His goalscoring ability is shown by the fact that he scored the most number of goals through headers last season. And having missed out on almost two months of action the tally could have been more.
In his time at Newcastle, he had the set piece delivery and crosses of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. Bu after his move to Liverpool and his injury, his form declined.With the service of Stewart Downing next season, he maybe able to form a formidable attack. Also with the recent addition of Charlie Adam, he will be at the receiving end of accurate cross field passes. This was evident in the recent Asian tour.
Standing at 5 ft 10 inches he may not be the tallest among the lot but he arguably is the best. His leap, his direction and determination enables him to win almost any aerial battle. Not only that but he has scored an astonishing number of goals from headers.
These statistics may be enough to give nightmares to any defender.He currently holds the Premier League record for "number of games per headed goal", winning over the likes of Alan Shearer, Duncan Ferguson and Les Ferdinand.
In the 2010-11 season alone he scored six headed goals( along with Andy Carroll and Kenwyne Jones).
Top 10 scorers of headed goals in the history of the Premier League
1 Tim Cahill - 27 headed goals in 170 Premier League matches (6.30 games per headed goal)
2 Dion Dublin - 45 in 312 (6.93)
3 Duncan Ferguson - 35 in 270 (7.71)
4 Les Ferdinand - 43 in 351 (8.16)
5 Gustavo Poyet - 22 in 187 (8.50)
6 Peter Crouch - 27 in 232 (8.59)
7 Chris Armstrong - 23 in 216 (9.39)
8 Alan Shearer - 46 in 441 (9.59)
9 Niall Quinn - 26 in 250 (9.62)
10 Dwight Yorke - 38 in 375 (9.87)
*All players have scored at least 20 headed Premier League goals and 40 Premier League goals in total.
3. Darren Bent
4. Joleon Lescott
5. Javier Hernandez
6. Martin Skrtel