Ranking the ‘Big Six’ Premier League attacks
The Premier League’s so-called ‘Big Six’ have all been active in the transfer market this summer, particularly in attack.
Teams loaded with star forwards are always more fun to watch and the more of them in the Big Six the more likely games involving those sides will be goal-laden rollercoasters rather than tense defence-first dirges.
Thank goodness then for summer 2022 when most of the Big Six have added to their attacks in a meaningful way, leading to the titular question: which Big Six side has the best attack in the Premier League?
We’ve had a look and ranked them, taking into account individual quality, collective quality and tactical cohesion. Squad depth will be considered, but we’re primarily looking at the starting trio first and foremost (No.10s in a 4-2-3-1 will not be included).
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6. Manchester United
Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford
League goals in 2021/22: 25
League assists in 2021/22: 8
Things are not going well for Manchester United in the transfer market, at least from an attacking perspective. They’ve signed good players elsewhere but after losing out to Liverpool in the race for Darwin Nunez, the attack remains bare.
The thing is, talent-wise this trio should rank much higher than this but the fact is none of them had a good season in 2021/22, with only Ronaldo breaking double digits for goals and even those were rarely in important games against opponents of consequence (unless the Champions League anthem had played before the game, of course).
We shall see what Erik ten Hag can do with these three, or even if United could add (or subtract) to their threadbare front line before the season starts. But right now, it’s not looking good.
Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka
League goals in 2021/22: 25
League assists in 2021/22: 21
Arsenal may have missed out on Dusan Vlahovic and Raphinha but in Gabriel Jesus they have signed a player who is an almost perfect fit for them. Sure, Jesus has drifted wide over the last few years but while new manager Mikel Arteta was an assistant at Manchester City, Jesus played through the middle and one suspects he will do the same at the Emirates.
⏰ | Gabriel Jesus (47')
⏰ | Gabriel Jesus (75')
The perfect start 📞 pic.twitter.com/2HsdgkSWFP
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 8, 2022
Jesus is thus a superb foil for the goalscoring prowess of Gabriel Martinelli (a striker playing wide) and Bukayo Saka (a winger with a great eye for goal). He’s capable of leading the line like a younger Alexandre Lacazette, allowing his wingers to cut and do the scoring, while also being able to show up and deliver the goods himself should he have to.
Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling
League goals in 2021/22: 32
League assists in 2021/22: 18
The Blues’ attack was atrocious last season as starters misfired, especially Romelu Lukaku, and things didn’t look too great for them coming into this season. But an impressive transfer coup as new owner Todd Boehly bagged Raheem Sterling, bringing the Englishman to his West London roots, has invigorated the Blues front line.
Mason Mount is a 10 playing like an inside forward, but he has the goalscoring and Thomas Muller-esque instincts to make it work. Kai Havertz looks like he is one of the few men not named Leo Messi, Francesco Totti or Roberto Firmino capable of playing False No.9 to an elite level and all Chelsea needed was someone to burst in behind and score while also being mobile enough to track back and press without being exhausted by the hour, and clinical enough to not be Timo Werner.
That man is Sterling, and Manchester City might regret letting him join Chelsea.
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3. Manchester City
Phil Foden, Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez
League goals in 2021/22: 42
League assists in 2021/22: 17
The reason City were so comfortable letting Sterling go, of course, was that they signed the mighty Erling Haaland. The powerhouse Norwegian forward who suffered through injury woes last season still slammed in 22 goals for a dysfunctional Dortmund side.
At 21, Haaland is the best young striker on the planet and the only reason this trio isn’t ranking higher is because we don’t know who Pep Guardiola will play alongside him consistently; logic says wing-wonder Riyad Mahrez with his dribbling creativity is a good fit.
Man in the mirror 🤩#ManCity pic.twitter.com/W0ZWfeht5w
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 10, 2022
While the other flank could see Phil Foden emerge as a forward, but then maybe we finally see Jack Grealish show his best? There’s too much uncertainty surrounding Haaland, who is fitness permitting the most certain goalscoring force not named Robert on the planet.
Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah
League goals in 2021/22: 64
League assists in 2021/22: 24
Liverpool lost Sadio Mané this summer, but the reshaping of their forward line began in January when they added Luis Diaz. Mané and Diogo Jota alternating at centre-forward last season indicated something was coming, and that something was Darwin Nunez.
The giant Uruguayan will undoubtedly take Mané’s place at the head of Liverpool’s attack where his speed, size and sharpness should see him score shed loads of superb strikes. Darwin should be flanked on either side by the majestic Mohamed Salah (who recently renewed his Liverpool contract and should break quite a few more records as a result) and the dynamic Diaz.
Jota can feel himself unlucky to miss out but he is a jack-of-all-trades forward, capable of playing any of the three roles in attack. He and Roberto Firmino will give Liverpool true depth and rotational ability while the devastating dribbling of Luis Diaz, playing opposite the devastating dribbling of Salah, should make Liverpool a terrifyingly multifaceted attacking trio.
Heung-min Son, Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevski
League goals in 2021/22: 46
League assists in 2021/22: 27
As star-studded as the Liverpool forwards are, the best attacking trio among all Premier League sides this season, not just the Big Six, is Spurs’ front three of Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevski. Why? Chemistry.
Haaland is the best striker in the Premier League and Salah is the best forward and possibly best player overall. However, we don’t know how they will bond with their team-mates. We can assume, infer, make an educated guess, but any number of things can go wrong (just look at Chelsea last season).
Our Sonny 🥰 pic.twitter.com/25Rwahluwh
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 8, 2022
Hell, Liverpool and City’s attacks could even work perfectly and they won’t have the staggeringly seamless chemistry that the Spurs attack has. Kane x Son is literally the most deadly duo in Premier League history and Kulusevski is a hard-working creator who compliments both men’s attacking movements superbly by simply creating chances for them (on the rare occasion they aren’t creating chances for themselves).
The addition of Richarlison puts Spurs clear at the very top because the Brazilian is an absolute maniac. A pressing machine with relentless physical qualities and a genuine nasty streak on the pitch (off it he seems lovely), Richarlison is Conte through-and-through and could easily back-up any one of Spurs’ three starters, allowing Conte to truly rotate his star men without fear of having to play a subpar back-up.
This Spurs attack is a work of art. It might even be the best such trio in Europe. No doubt Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man City and even Barcelona if they land their transfer targets will have something to say come season’s end, but for now? Spurs are top.