Once Luis Suarez took his talent and his teeth to Barcelona, there was something of a Premier League power vacuum.
Suarez led the Premier League in goals (31) and assists last season (12), an especially impressive feat given that he played in just 33 matches after finishing his suspension from the previous 2012-13 season for — you guessed it — biting.
So with Suarez gone, who’s the next best striker? There are several ways to quantify this question. To some, a striker has one, and only one, job— score goals. For these people, the answer would be as simple as searching “top goal scorers” in Google, looking at the list, and pushing a sticky index finger firmly against their computer screen at the No. 2 player on the list, Daniel Sturridge, while possibly saying, “voila.”
But they’d be wrong. The correct answer is Sergio Aguero.
What makes Suarez such an impactful player is not simply his world-class finishing ability, but his gravitational pull to lure-in defenders, only to pick out a teammate with a sly pass. His assists are a huge part of the reason he was responsible for 42.5 percent of Liverpool’s goals last season.
So with that in mind, here are the strikers who tallied the most goals and assists last season.
Well how about that, Sturridge is still at the top of the list. But before you scroll straight down to the comments, let’s look at two other important metrics that factor in efficiency.
To do this, take the above data and combine it with the total minutes each player was on the pitch last season (Premier League matches only) to calculate how often each player scored or assisted a teammate.
When you factor in the time he missed because of a hamstring injury, Aguero was the most efficient striker in the entire Premier League, including Suarez, who registered a goal or assist every 95.58 minutes.
The above chart also touches on two other semi-related points— Arsenal’s frustration with Olivier Giroud and Rickie Lambert’s low transfer fee. Giroud played more Premier League minutes (3,067) than any other forward. Lambert played the third-most. It’s important to remember that context instead of focusing entirely on total goals when discussing a striker’s price or talent.
Aguero was also more accurate than any of the above strikers, with 60 percent of his attempts landing on target, good for tenth in the league. As a matter of comparison, Wayne Rooney and Suarez both finished with 53 percent, Sturridge with 49 percent and Giroud with 43 percent. Aguero also finished fifth in passing accuracy (85 percent) among forwards.
Now 0ne could argue that staying healthy is in and of itself a skill, but given Aguero’s ability to stay on the pitch in past seasons (he played in 30 games in 2012-13 and 34 in 2011-12) and Sturridge’s injury history, there isn’t a huge difference between the players in this regard.
If Aguero can avoid injury this season, he should be the best striker in the Premiership in nine month’s time. Fortunately for Manchester City, the 26-year-old just signed a five-year contract last week.