After many seasons where teams generally picked formations revolving around a lone striker, the term ‘strike partnership’ has returned to the footballing dictionary this campaign.
However, it is not a simple return to the stronger, aerially-dominant forward partnered with a nippier, sharp-shooting, fox-in-the-box type finisher of days gone by.
Instead of the combinations of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen or Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, clubs playing two strikers now are not reliant on one bagging the majority of the goals and the other doing the graft to allow this to happen.
Now, the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool all name two strikers capable of surpassing 20 Premier League goals each this season, even if it is only really the latter that play in a formation geared towards two actual strikers.
For Man Utd, Wayne Rooney is more of a number 10, playing in a deeper position as Robin van Persie leads the line, while Sergio Aguero at Manchester City almost has a free role alongside David Silva in order to feed off Alvaro Negredo.
Given that all strikers are ultimately judged on scoring goals, it is Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge that have not only scored the most combined goals so far, but at a greater percentage per start.
SAS have 14 goals between them in just 15 combined starts and are surely guaranteed to be responsible for a greater number of their clubs’ total goals than their fellow partnerships.
The main drawbacks to Suarez and Sturridge being the highest-scoring partnership this season is that Suarez may leave in January and Steven Gerrard is on penalty duties, which could deprive the forwards of some valuable goals.
Man City’s pair are certainly the ones in form, as at least one of Aguero or Negredo have scored in the team’s last eight games in all competitions and they have netted 16 between them in this period.
As this pair continue to gain a better understanding in what is still their first season together, they have to be the best bet to be the highest-scoring partnership, even if Edin Dzeko is sure to thwart some of their game-time and Aguero can be injury prone.
Looking at Rooney and Van Persie, they have still managed 11 goals in 16 combined Premier League starts and include the top-flight’s overall top scorer of the last two campaigns.
However, it is hard to get overly excited over their prospects of being the highest-scoring partnership until Man Utd start to find some attacking verve and fluidity, which has been largely lacking so far this campaign.
Overall, Man City have scored 28 goals in their 10 league games, with Liverpool and Man Utd well back on 17 each.
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