Who is the best striker in the Premier League? It's a debate which rages on but according to Football Whispers' groundbreaking formula, the answer is Alexis Sanchez.
He may not be leading the goalscoring charts but it’s not just about scoring goals if you’re a striker these days. Overall impact is important to both fans and managers so when judging strikers it’s a necessity to include as many factors as possible.
Football Whispers, with the help of data scientists, have put together an algorithm which has sieved through a whole host of stats including total number of shots, assists, shot accuracy, chances created, goals scored against the top six sides and winning goals to give each of the current top scoring strikers in the league a performance index score out of ten.
The Arsenal number seven pips Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimović to top spot with Diego Costa, Jermain Defoe, Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane making up the top seven in the list so far this campaign.
However, it’s worth noting that things such as suitability can’t be quantified but should definitely be taken into account when judging these players. Certain teams use certain systems. Specific players thrive in specific systems. It’s all about marrying these players to a system which enables them to showcase their strengths.
Just because Sanchez leads the way in terms of general strikers doesn’t mean Chelsea should sell Costa and replace him with the Chilean. That is unless they are going to tweak the system they use. It was a subject discussed on the latest episode of Football Whispers TV which saw Paul Walsh and Clive Allen give their thoughts on the modern day striker.
Name: Sergio Aguero
Club: Manchester City
Performance Index Score: 5.93
The Argentine may considered to be the purest striker in the Premier League and he tops the list of minutes per goal, standing at exactly 90. However, he's not the most influential when considering all the other factors apart from putting the ball in the back of the net. That plays a part in him finishing bottom of this particular pile.
He’s yet to register an assist this season in the league and he creates just the 0.72 chances per game. If he’s not scoring then he’s not doing much else.
Pep Guardiola wants more from his strikers than just goals and new signing Gabriel Jesus, with three goals and an assist to his name in just three Premier League appearances, has put Aguero's status as top dog under serious threat.
Name: Harry Kane
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Performance Index Score: 7.31
Harry Kane is Tottenham’s Mr Reliable. He’s arguably the perfect modern day striker and yet comes sixth in our ranking system. He scores goals, brings others into play, creates chances for teammates and, most importantly, he works hard.
He's averaging a goal every 109 minutes and is creating 1.5 chances per 90 minutes. It's even more impressive given he missed a chunk of the season through injury but upon his return started to fire immediately.
The only reason he’s not higher on the list is because others have performed slightly better in certain areas.
Name: Jermain Defoe
Performance Index Score: 7.40
Jermain Defoe may be single-handedly fighting off relegation for Sunderland. The rest of these strikers are fighting for a place in Europe but it just goes to show quality isn’t exclusive to top half clubs.
He’s currently scoring every other game; every 154 minutes to be exact. The majority of his strikes seem to result in points for the Black Cats. He scored the goal in the 1-1 draw with Southampton, grabbed a goal and assist in a 2-1 win over Bournemouth and repeated that trick against Hull in a 3-0 win. He netted twice against Liverpool in a 2-2 draw before firing in a double against Crystal Palace in last week's emphatic 4-0 win.
It’s these match winning goals which put him at fifth in this list. He’s perfect for what Sunderland need right now as they look to survive the dreaded drop.
Name: Diego Costa
Performance Index Score: 8.05
There was plenty of unrest surrounding the adopted Spaniard's future in the summer, with many tipping him for a return to Atletico Madrid. However, he shrugged off the uncertainty and rediscovered his La Liga form to become that dominant and destructive striker for Chelsea that so many feared under Diego Simeone in Spain.
He’s scored in big games against Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City as well as grabbing an assist versus Spurs in a 2-1 win for Conte’s men. He's creating 1.3 chances per 90 minutes and has five assists. He's maintained a 60 per cent shot accuracy throughout the season which is better than the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sanchez and Aguero.
Name: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Club: Manchester United
Performance Index Score: 8.25
He was supposed to be past it, but 35-year-old Ibrahimovic is enjoying life in the Premier League. If United make the Champions League this season he won’t be solely responsible but he will have paid back the reported £260,000-per-week he pockets with match-winning goals throughout the season.
He’s scored vital goals in wins over Southampton, Swansea, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Sunderland to go alongside goals in draws against Liverpool and Everton. He also netted the United goal in a 2-1 loss to neighbours City. He’s scoring a variety of goals on a regular basis to secure victories for Jose Mourinho’s men, but he’s also offering a focal point in attack and it’s why he finds himself in third position.
Name: Romelu Lukaku
Performance Index Score: 8.62
The 23-year-old striker has everything. He scores goals, he creates chances for his teammates, he’s dominant in the air and he’s unnervingly accurate in the penalty area. He’s aggressive in his play, confident on the ball and it is this mentality which plays a part in him finishing comfortably second in our list.
The big Belgian tops the list for successful take-ons and shot accuracy. He's only averaging 2.7 shots per 90 minutes but he leads the scoring charts showing he's clinical and doesn't require an abundance of chances to put the ball in the back of the net.
Name: Alexis Sanchez
Performance Index Score: 9.44
After his performances this season you have to wonder why Arsene Wenger waited so long to unleash him in that central area.
He’s scoring goals on a regular basis but, what’s more, he’s managing to combine a creative role with a goalscoring one. At times he’s playing as a false nine, which is the reason behind the eight assists he has to his name and the 2.72 chances he creates per 90 minutes. He's not the most orthodox striker but he fits Arsenal like a glove and it's paying off for both the club and the player.