Premier League focus: Significance of strikers for top four sides - which could cost Chelsea and Frank Lampard

Strikers to cost Chelsea? Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham have failed to score in their opening games
Strikers to cost Chelsea? Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham have failed to score in their opening games

A good striker is important for any top flight team, but a world-class forward can prove to be the difference between top half, top six and top four.

Liverpool's close shave with the title showcased this last season, with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah sharing the Golden Boot (with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang). With Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi included, nearly 82% of their goals came from the forward line.

The Reds have continued in the same fashion this term, collecting six points from six so far with all four already getting off the mark.

Gabriel Jesus, after seeing a late strike ruled out by VAR on Saturday, has one for Manchester City, Sergio Aguero is on two and Raheem Sterling is already on four.

Harry Kane (two) and Lucas Moura have netted for Tottenham while Arsenal have Aubameyang with two and Alexandre Lacazette on one.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package and free tips
Sporting Life's Premier League preview package and free tips

Manchester United even have both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with two goals to their name.

And Chelsea? Their solitary goal after two games (and 25 shots) came through Mason Mount as a result of an error by Leicester on Sunday.

Granted, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain, not necessarily prolific but strikers nevertheless, left Stamford Bridge in the summer and they were unable to replace them due to their transfer ban.

But the return of two strikers from loan spells means they have Olivier Giroud, new number nine Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi as well as an array of attacking-minded players behind them, but goals still look like they could be a problem.

Abraham has played just over 90 minutes across the two games, failing to find the back of the net with four efforts and he needs to prove he is more than just a top-quality Championship striker.

Giroud, meanwhile, has registered just one effort in 85 minutes. If you don't buy a ticket, as they say...

The shortage so far could play into the hands of Batshuayi, though. The Belgian is yet to make the matchday squad in the league this term and fans are already calling for his involvement. With Lampard watching on in the stands, he scored twice for the U23s against Liverpool on Monday evening. His first, latching onto a long ball from Antonio Rudiger and his second saw him convert after Fausto Anjorin's through ball. The clinical finisher they need?

Michy Batshuayi: Belgian celebrates a goal for Chelsea's U23s in the Premier League 2 match with Liverpool
Michy Batshuayi: Belgian celebrates a goal for Chelsea's U23s in the Premier League 2 match with Liverpool


Goals scored in the Premier League 2019/20

  • Man City - 7
  • Liverpool - 6
  • Tottenham - 5
  • Man United - 5
  • Arsenal - 3
  • Chelsea - 1

Click here for the full Premier League table


Chelsea's next game - away v Norwich: Under 2.5 goals at 6/5 with Sky Bet

It could be argued that Chelsea have created just one big chance per game and the onus is on their playmakers to lay on those opportunities, but the forward's runs and positioning is just as important in this forward-facing side.

Abraham has shown the willingness to make those darting runs and, with Lampard intent on playing direct and at speed, it could suit him well but his ability on the ball needs to improve outside of the box. However, if they want to play to his existing strengths, getting the ball into the box before finding him is the way to go. Then he is more likely to thrive - the fact all of his 60 career goals have come from inside the box says it all.

The fact five Chelsea players have a better shots-per-game average than Abraham in the Premier League, including central defender Kurt Zouma, is not great for a player looking to make his mark. The fact he has had 35 touches compared to Rashford's 95 or Sterling's 106 shows the improvement that needs to be made.

Goals are the aim of the game and every quality team needs a top marksman.

Outside of the top six, newcomers Norwich and Sheffield United have started well thanks to goals from their forwards in Teemu Pukki (with four already) and Billy Sharp, strikers Florin Andone, Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard have scored Brighton, Burnley's Ashley Barnes - whose calendar year record in the Premier League is only bettered by Sadio Mane and Sergio Aguero - is on three and Danny Ings has one at Southampton.

You can be strong all around the pitch, but a goal-getting striker cannot be undervalued and that could cost Chelsea their top four (or six) spot under Lampard this term, with their rivals all able to take their chances.


Golden Boot odds (via Sky Bet)

Harry Kane of Tottenham
Harry Kane: Current favourite for the Golden Boot
  • Harry Kane - 7/2
  • Mo Salah - 5/1
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 5/1
  • Raheem Sterling - 11/2
  • Sergio Aguero - 8/1
  • Marcus Rashford - 14/1

Click here to see the market in full


OUT NOW: Premier League Podcast

LISTEN: Our football team run through the latest news, views and incidents from the Premier League
LISTEN: Our football team run through the latest news, views and incidents from the Premier League

The new episode of Sporting Life's Premier League Podcast is out now, as we discuss Chelsea's tactics and Arsenal's new star.

PL best and worst: Magic tactics

Premier League best and worst: Teemu Pukki, Dani Ceballos and Kevin De Bruyne
Click here for our Premier League best and worst: Teemu Pukki, Dani Ceballos and Kevin De Bruyne all feature

Sheff United's tactics, fantastic Teemu Pukki and Chelsea's defensive woes - Alex Keble runs through the best and worst from the Premier League.

In Focus: Lampard's Chelsea tactics

Frank Lampard's Chelsea: Alex Keble looks at the tactics of the new Stamford Bridge boss
Click here to read about Frank Lampard's Chelsea: Alex Keble looks at the tactics of the new Stamford Bridge boss

Alex Keble takes a look at the tactics, style and key players for Frank Lampard after witnessing another difficult afternoon for the new Chelsea boss at Stamford Bridge.


Odds correct as of 1500 BST on 19/08/19

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