As last season’s race for the Golden Boot proved, the Premier League possesses so many great forwards they can’t actually be separated.
And this season, we have been treated to some excellent attacking play from some of Europe’s best centre-forwards.
With the Premier League returning on Wednesday after three months without live action, strikers will be licking their lips to get back to action.
With that considered, who have been the best No.9s in the Premier League so far this term?
We’ve picked out a few, and you can vote on who you think has been the best at the bottom. Or if you object to any criminal omissions from the lists below, let us hear all about it on Twitter or Facebook.
10. Anthony Martial (Man Utd)
Out wide? Through the middle? In a two-man partnership? These are the questions that have defined Martial’s existence at Old Trafford since relocating as a precocious forward from Monaco in 2015, but this season he has made the No. 9 berth his own under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Golden Boy recipient has been entrusted to lead the line in Solskjaer’s fluid system and the Norwegian has reaped the rewards of this tweak, with his newly adopted centre-forward on course to surpass his best league tally in a Man Utd shirt, with 11 goals to his name so far.
With nine matches remaining Martial could even reach the coveted 20-goal mark for strikers, with the Frenchman requiring a goal a game. But, it hasn’t just been an improved strike rate that has Man Utd fans purring at the minute. Martial has improved his overall gameplay and looks at home through the middle.
Key stat: Martial has the best shot conversion rate of any forward in the Premier League this season with 20+ appearances (68.18 per cent).
9. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City)
That Norwich are still within a chance of safety has everything to do with the clinical exploits of their bearded goal-getter. With six points separating the Canaries from retaining their Premier League status, they will have to start putting points on the board, and Pukki will be key to that quest.
The 2019 Finnish Footballer of the Year topped the scoring charts in the Championship last season and immediately translated that form in the top-flight, scoring against champions-elect Liverpool on the opening day of the campaign. It was a sign of things to come.
Despite playing an eye-pleasing brand of football, Daniel Farke’s side have struggled in front of goal, with just 25 to their name (the least of any club this season), meaning Pukki has contributed to 44 per cent of their total output (11 goals). An impressive strike rate for any forward, but augmented by the fact he’s playing the for division’s basement club.
Key stat: Only two players have scored more than one goal for Norwich this season: Pukki (11) and Todd Cantwell (six).
8. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored more goals, had more shots on target and had more Big Chances than any player in the Premier League since Carlo Ancelotti's first game in charge.⠀
Only Mohamed Salah has created more Big Chances than Richarlison. 🕺🕺 pic.twitter.com/dRpadwjHcQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 6, 2020
Since Carlo Ancelotti stepped into the Everton equation last December, Calvert-Lewin has transformed his game and was even an outside prospect for Gareth Southgate’s England squad, before the postponement of Euro 2020. The 23-year-old has looked razor-sharp, prolific and unplayable at times under Ancelotti, who even revealed the Everton marksman was on his radar during his Napoli days.
But, the eulogies from one of football’s most revered characters doesn’t stop there. Ancelotti believes his prized pupil has the potential to be a “great striker for England”, with many on Merseyside now calling for the unorthodox No. 9 to be given a chance at international level.
Prior to the Premier League’s hiatus, the Sheffield-born forward was on a run of 11 direct contributions in 14 games, including braces in wins over Chelsea and Newcastle, as well goals against Arsenal and Manchester United, taking his total goals tally to 13 for the season.
Key stat: Only Chris Wood of Burnley (five) has scored more headed goals than Calvert-Lewin this season (four).
7. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
One of the most pleasant surprises, particularly for Chelsea fans, this season has been the blistering form of Tammy Abraham. The striker was linked with a permanent move to Aston Villa last summer but Frank Lampard decided to keep him at Stamford Bridge.
And what a decision it was. After a false start, Abraham has been electric in the Premier League, scoring 13 times, including a superb hat-trick away to Wolves. He is keeping the more established Olivier Giroud — as well as Michy Batshuayi — out of the Chelsea line-up with ease.
The England international’s form has dipped since the turn of the year, and Timo Werner’s prospective transfer to Stamford Bridge could spell trouble for his hopes in west London, but there can be no getting away from what has been a breakthrough — and successful — campaign at the top level for Abraham.
Key stat: Abraham has been directly involved in more goals than any Chelsea player this season (13 goals, three assists).
6. Danny Ings (Southampton)
The former Liverpool forward has been a devastating goal fiend this season, and will certainly be in the Golden Boot conversation come the final few games of the season. He currently has 15 to his name and remains just four adrift of Jamie Vardy, who leads the way on 19.
But, it hasn’t just been the amount Ings has scored, but just how crucial his goals have been, with match-winners against Spurs, Leicester and Aston Villa among others. Like Calvert-Lewin, Ings too would have been hopeful of securing his place in Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2020.
If he can take this form into next season, then Southgate surely can’t ignore him for the rearranged tournament.
Key stat: Ings has contributed to 43 per cent of Southampton’s total goalscoring output this season.
5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Firmino may not be in the Golden Boot race this term, with just eight goals to his name, but he has proven invaluable to Liverpool’s liquid system, and has once again shone in the league. The Reds look destined for the title, and while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane may dominate the back pages, it’s because of Firmino’s selfless exploits that Klopp’s lethal duo can thrive.
The elegant Brazilian exudes an aura of class and links up almost telepathically with his attacking teammates. Without Firmino, Klopp’s high-octant system cannot operate on full tilt. His hold-up play, evasive movement and false-nine competence make it almost impossible to contain Liverpool’s insatiable frontline.
Key stat: Firmino has more assists than any striker in the Premier League this season (seven).
4. Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
Raúl Jiménez has featured in every possible Premier League game since joining Wolves, playing 93% of all available minutes:
❍ 5581 mins
❍ 67 games
❍ 64 starts
❍ 26 goals
❍ 13 assists
Incredible consistency from an incredible player. 🐺 pic.twitter.com/XZ6y6wpEZi
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 1, 2020
There is little wonder why Jimenez has been linked with a move to Man Utd. The Mexican centre-forward has been in barnstorming form since moving to the Molineux. He has already equalled his goal tally from last season with 13 to his name, and has nine games to improve upon that.
With Wolves vying for a European place, Nuno Espirito Santo will be buoyed that his lead man has been ruthless this campaign. But, there is so much more to Jimenez’s game than just his eye for the net. On top of his 13 goals, he also has six assists. Furthermore, he has created more chances than any other striker in the league this season (42) and has registered more shots (99). A complete forward if ever there was one.
Key stat: Jimenez has created more big chances this season (12) than any other striker in the Premier League.
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Much like Harry Kane at Spurs, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form belies that of his team, who look set to make hard work of finishing in the top four again this season. Of course, Aubameyang is now more commonly considered an inside forward, operating out wide for Arsenal, but at the start of the campaign he was largely utilised through the middle and still performs that role when required.
The Gabon international’s goal record since arriving at Arsenal should not be undervalued, and it does not look like he is going to stop scoring any time soon. It’s scary to imagine the number of goals he would be racking up if he played for Manchester City or Liverpool.
Key stat: Aubameyang has scored the second-most goals of any player in the league this season (17).
2. Sergio Aguero (Man City)
Sergio Aguero scores Premier League goals. A lot of them. Since the 2014/15 season, the Argentinian has scored at least 20 goals in every campaign and is well on his way to doing so again this term with 16 goals in 22 games. In fact, he has scored 10+ goals in each of his last 13 seasons.
Surprisingly City’s record goalscorer only has one Golden Boot to his name, coming in 2014/15 when he struck home 26 goals. With 10 games remaining he has more than enough star quality and experience in the locker to match that this time round. Arsenal, beware!
Key stat: Aguero became only the third Premier League player to score 100+ goals at a single venue when he reached his century at the Etihad in September.
1. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Most goals scored in the 2019/20 Premier League season:
❍ Jamie Vardy (19)
❍ Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17)
❍ Sergio Aguero (16)
❍ Mohamed Salah (16)
Who takes the Golden Boot? pic.twitter.com/TQ4bJrmCHl
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 28, 2020
Vardy is a unique player in that his status as a top Premier League striker did not arrive until relatively late in his career. His confidence was summed up with his hat-trick in Leicester’s amazing 9-0 thrashing of Southampton, and there is no sign of the 33-year-old slowing down.
Despite entering the twilight years of his career, the Leicester speedster is still playing with the vim and vigour of his famous 2015/16 season and has been crucial to Brendan Rodgers as the Foxes chase a Champions League qualification place.
Vardy is just one goal shy of hitting 20 Premier League goals for the season (his third time if he does so) and will be eyeing up a first-ever Golden Boot.
Key stat: Vardy currently leads the Golden Boot race with 19 goals in the Premier League this season.