Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph this season came with a two-striker system, something that is becoming rare in modern day football especially in a top-flight competition. Since the turn of millennium, the majority of clubs have scrapped the idea of playing with two-man strikers to have better control in the midfield of the field.
In the old school football, strike partnerships would often feature two players with opposing strengths and weaknesses, the most common of which have been a target man/poacher combo to provide both physical aspect of the game and pace. However, with the Premier League become more and more physical due to the improvement of sports science, the modern-day central forward has to be a stronger player that has underpinned their pace.
It has led to the common idea of strikers being more physical, capable of holding up possession, wrestling the challenges of strong defenders and dropping deep to collect the ball. So who are the top five strikers that best epitomise the evolution of the modern-day central forward?
1Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur’s academy graduate is currently the Premier League’s top goalscorer. Harry Kane is the best example of how the modern day striker has evolved to be a lone central forward.
Kane has everything a striker needs to be successful in the Premier League; boasts great strength to hold up the ball, bring others into play, he is a powerful runner, not easily dispossessed when to attack and enjoys aerial superiority due to his 6 foot 2 frame.
In addition to being able to make chances from nothing, the all-rounder Kane has proven to be a ruthless goalscorer in the last 18 months, and will be greatly coveted this summer by a host of clubs as a result.
2Romelu Lukaku – Everton
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is perhaps less of an all-rounder than Kane, but he’s nevertheless a prime example of what most clubs are looking for to spearhead their attack. The Belgian international has enjoyed a prolific campaign and has showcased his real quality after a troublesome previous season.
He has more pace and superior dribbling abilities than Kane but doesn’t boast the high intelligence on the pitch. Lukaku instead at times drop deep to link attacks. He’s been consistent in front of the goal but has less work rate than other strikers so he’s sometimes out of the game for lengthy periods.
However, Lukaku boasts the physique to hold the ball against any defender and when he is given adequate support, he’s proven to be a deadly strike.
3Diego Costa – Chelsea
Chelsea striker Diego Costa is another breed of the new central forward but does still share qualities with the likes of Kane and Lukaku that epitomise the modern day lone striker. The Brazilian-born Spanish international is very physical and at times uses cheap ploys to unsettle the opposing defence.
He’s good with the ball, boasts fantastic technical abilities and is a ruthless finisher when he is in form. Costa loves a physical tussle with his opponents and is brilliant at making space for himself with smart movement off the ball.
The former Atletico Madrid player is perfect in the lone striker role and he’s a hard player to contain due to his love for physical battles.
4Olivier Giroud – Arsenal
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud divides opinion but he can be a very effective forward in the modern day. The French international does stick out like a sore thumb in the Arsenal side due to his back-to-back injuryes but he’s a useful striker to spearhead the attack.
Arsenal fans may remember the pace of Thierry Henry in previous years, but Giroud offers a different kind of attacking threat. The former Montpellier player has less agility and variation to his movement but he is a target man to pick out in the box who can be dangerous inside the box.
He links the Arsenal attack and midfielders well and provides an aerial threat as well as being useful with the ball. Giroud’s recent form has been disappointing but he does have all the hallmarks of a top class lone striker.
5Christian Benteke – Liverpool
Liverpool striker Christian Benteke perhaps is less mobile compare to the other central forwards but he’s an excellent iteration of the evolved Premier League frontman that clubs are keen to sign. He’s a target man who is proficient in the air but likes the ball at his feet.
Benteke has athleticism but struggles with his work rate. He is a good football player and is a powerful runner when moving forward but he sometimes has off day when he looks utterly disinterested.
The Belgian international is arguably the weakest all-round striker from the list but he’s nevertheless a useful forward to lead the line with his physical ability.