Now that the summer transfer season has closed and the rosters are locked until January, it is time to step back and take a look at who secured the best new players and specifically, what are the top 5 attacking lines in the Premier League?
Fifth Place: Arsenal
Arsenal’s attack is going to be lead by new man Danny Welbeck, who was recently sold by Manchester United. Welbeck is going to start immediately, replacing the injured Oliver Giroud. Arsene Wenger desperately needed coverage upfront, and Welbeck is going to step on the pitch in form after a two goal performance for the England national team. Welbeck will match up with another London newcomer; Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez provided forward coverage for the squad even before the Giroud injury, and I expect the two to work as a center pair, with Welbeck taking the more traditional forward role. The two players share many similar traits; an affinity for layoff style passes and cutting the ball inside, and strong finishing ability. The two are sure to link up for some electrifying short pass play if they can gel together early.
My only doubts about this partnership come from Welbeck’s lack of previous experience. This is Welbeck’s first opportunity to command and own a true starting forward role, having played second and third fiddle to Robin Van Persie and Rooney for so many years at Manchester United. If Welbeck can show the class that he has shown for the “Three Lions” this duo will score many goals for the gunners. When you consider the possible rotation with the tall Giroud when he returns, Arsenal also will be able to have an aerial threat. Yet, until Giroud returns and Welbeck proves himself, Arsenal will come in at 5thon this list.
Fourth Place: Liverpool
If this column had been written six months ago, it would be hard to place Liverpool any other place than at number one. The departure of the Uruguayan chomper Luis Suarez, the leading goal scorer for the Premier League leaves large shoes for any team to fill. Yet Brendan Rodgers has done his best to fill the void left by Suarez, and he brought in the “just-as-crazy-but-less-orally-fixated” Mario Balotelli to slot along side young stud Daniel Sturridge. I do not doubt one bit that these two could be the best striking tandem in the league. When you look at the pairing on paper, they fit perfectly. First and foremost, they will lead one of the taller lines in England, as both come in over 6 feet tall. Balotelli provides the strength and aerial ability that Sturridge lacks, and Sturridge has the thin and speedy frame needed for a quick countering ability. Both are strong finishers, have great dribbling ability, and have proven themselves at the top levels in Europe.
Having just played one game together, they appeared to work well. But we have seen Balotelli be a firework in dressing rooms before (as well as apartments) and frankly this is still a “wait and see” situation. Despite their uninspiring defense and guaranteed lack of discipline on the pitch they surely will be the cheapest entertainment you can get in league, and will no doubt connect for some great play. If the two develop as a pair, then they will climb on this list and but until then they will fall right ahead of Arsenal as having the fourth best attacking line the league.
Third Place: Manchester City
Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. There are no questions about the quality of the players that City can put out on the pitch at any moment, and when healthy, the threesome of Aguero, Dzeko, and Negredo devastated opponents across competitions last season. Yet Negredo bid adieu to the Ethiad on transfer deadline day, partly due to the scintillating form of Stevan Jovetic, who has since picked up an injury on international duty. The “always a bridesmaid never a bride” striker of the bunch, John Guidetti, was loaned out to Celtic as well. A transfer period that started with five options for City upfront has ended with only two. Aguero’s long term fitness is also always a question, as he has suffered numerous injuries during his last few years with the club.
While it has been a rough few weeks for the Manchester squad, I do feel that the direness of the situation is overstated. If Jovetic returns quickly, and Aguero can stay fit alongside a healthy Dzeko, City is set to run rampant through the league. The real strength of the squad falls behind the attacking line, and as long as one or two of their strikers are fit they will win games. The combo of the three blue strikers is enough to land them in third place on this list.
Second Place: Chelsea
This ranking is single handily due to the hot start of Spaniard Diego Costa. Chelsea’s strength, similar to City, lies in their midfield, but the way that Costa has started for the London squad separates the two teams on this list. Starting recently as the lone forward for the team he has taken advantage of the plethora of midfield options, scoring (poaching) goals left and right. Costa’s size and strikers intuition fit perfectly into this offense, as we have consistently seen him be in just the right spot to finish on missed or deflected opportunities from the Chelsea midfield line. Because of their single forward system Chelsea does not need as much coverage at the position as the other teams on this list that favor a duel or triple threat to lead their line. This has in turn led to estranged Spanish striker Fernando Torres’ departure, and the resigning of a Chelsea legend to proved cover.
While Didier Drogba has lost much of the form from his original Chelsea tenure he still is a physical presence that can lead the Chelsea line if there is a long term absence to Costa. He has been successful across all competitions and the combination of an experienced veteran and a rising star has been a proven formula for striker success in the Premier League. The current form of the Chelsea duo is enough to put them as the second best attacking line in the league.
First Place: Manchester United
Van Persie, Rooney, Falcao, Di Maria. Simply put, on paper they are arguably the best attacking line in the world. Just ignore the first matches of this season and think about that roster. Any combination of the four of those players is the sure lock on this list. The talent is overflowing and it is just a matter of time before Louis van Gaal (or someone else) figures out how to get this team to click. This team is simply going through growing pains; soon enough they will figure out how to flex their new found muscle.
The doubts about this Manchester squad are about their coaching and the new system that is being implemented at Old Trafford; not the players. The depth of their front line allowed them to sell one of other players that we discussed on this list, Danny Welbeck. Even the scraps of the Reds are front line legitimate stud attacking players for other clubs. It is because of this depth and overall quality that Manchester United can field the best attacking line in England.