Hello and welcome to the final edition of Most Popular for this pre-season. We’ve analysed the most popular Goalkeepers, Defenders and Midfielders already so now it’s time to get to the men’s end of the ground, the forwards!
Daniel Sturridge – Currently the most selected forward this pre-season is the new front man for Liverpool after the departure of main man Luis Suarez. Daniel Sturridge has been selected by a massive 30.3% of teams even despite his hefty price tag of 11.5m. Sturridge is currently the main man at Liverpool after Luis Suarez made the switch after to the Catalan giants, Barcelona, during the summer. Last season Sturridge had his best season in the Premier League to date, scoring 22 goals and creating 8 assists, totalling 197 overall points. Sturridge was one of the best options in the game last year, some even electing to go him over Suarez. With the sale of Suarez though it will be interesting to see how he and Liverpool perform. There was no doubt that Suarez singlehandedly won a lot of games for Liverpool last season and was at the forefront of their scoring. It is yet to be determined how Liverpool will perform without Suarez so until I see their early season form I’ll be giving Sturridge a miss. Definitely on the watch list though!
Wayne Rooney – The second most selected forward so far is the Manchester United spearhead Wayne Rooney. Rooney has found himself in 29.7% of teams, a solid effort considering United’s poor performances last year. In what was truly a shocking year for United Rooney was one of very few beacons of shining light, having a good year personally registering 17 goals and 12 assists for his 190 overall points. Over the summer last seasons ‘manager’ David Moyes has been dismissed and replaced by the Netherlands national coach, Louis Van Gaal. With the Dutch connection with Netherlands skipper Robin Van Persie, many managers were wondering how this would affect Rooney’s performance. If pre-season is anything to go by it’s done absolutely wonders, already amassing 4 goals in two games! Priced at a handy 10.5m Rooney is more than affordable and with United’s opening few games he should present as a fantastic option. Due to Manchester United’s wonderful opening fixtures and Rooney’s generous price I think its too hard not to select him, a lock for me.
Diego Costa – Up next is the recently transferred Chelsea striker, Diego Costa. Costa has currently found himself in a handy 22.8% of teams due to his fantastic season at Atleitco Madrid last year. While the Brazilian born Spaniard didn’t have a fantastic World Cup for Spain his form in the La Liga proved he is one of the best forwards going around. With his recent transfer to Chelsea it is certain that he will be the number one target man, with Jose Mourinho often expressing his need for a world class striker last year. With Demba Ba off to the Turkish League and Samuel Eto’o a free agent, Chelsea have Diego Costa, Fernando Torres, possibly Romelu Lukaku and the recently returned Didier Drogba to lead the line this campaign. With Torres’ woeful performances in recent years his name has been linked with a possible move away from Stamford Bridge, which would all but solidify Costa’s number one role at Chelsea due to the age and recent coaching role of Drogba. We’re unsure of what’s going to happen with Lukaku so that’s pretty much a wait and see. Priced at 10.5m he certainly could have been priced more expensively so that’s a win in itself. My main concern with selecting Costa to start off with is the fact he’s such an unknown quantity to the Premier League. His style of play of holding the ball up and bringing it to ground doesn’t particularly work well with Chelsea’s counter attacking style of play but I don’t think that will really matter in the end. Currently I am selecting Rooney over him but it doesn’t come with relative ease… It’s a tough decision but Rooney just gets the nod due to his Premier League experience. Chelsea have a fantastic opening run, arguably the easiest in the league, so if he scores big in his first game against Burnley don’t be afraid to pull the trigger, it could work wonders!
Oliver Giroud – The fourth most selected striker is the Arsenal main man, Oliver Giroud. Giroud has found himself in 21.3% of teams due to his 16 goals and 9 assists last season, combining for an overall score of 187 points. At the start of last season Giroud and his Arsenal teammates were flying, sitting pretty on top Giroud looked like he had finally asserted himself as one of the dominant top-flight strikers. Injury struck and Arsenal began to taper off, eventually slipping to fourth place after many suggested it was finally Arsenal’s season to end the drought. With the acquisition of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid their play definitely improved and so with the latest signing of Alexis Sánchez it’ll only continue to increase. The only problem I currently have with Giroud is how Arsenal will line up with the recently transferred Sánchez. Sánchez proved at the World Cup that he can be dominant when deployed as a target man up front but by the same token showed how he can be non-existent at times when deployed on the wings for Barcelona. Arsene Wenger in recent years hasn’t been one for deploying two strikers so it will be interesting to see if he does change this philosophy or if he prefers one or the other. Due to this level of uncertainty I won’t be selecting Giroud, it’s a wait and see for me at this stage.
Loic Remy – To round out the top 5 is the medical failure, Loic Remy. After seemingly completing a transfer to Liverpool Remy somehow failed his medical in fascinating circumstances. After spending a season on loan at Newcastle due to QPR’s relegation Remy asserted himself on the Premier League, scoring 14 goals and 3 assists for his 135 overall points. He has been selected by 19.7% of teams with QPR’s re-appearance in the top flight. I’ve had to edit this article since writing it as I mainly wrote about his proposed move to Liverpool, well I guess that’s what you get for writing ahead! Anyway now that he is staying at QPR (for the meantime) Remy will certainly lead the line for The Hoops. When he first moved to QPR in January 2012/13, Remy made a strong impression to the Premier League scoring 6 goals. QPR then got relegated so Remy spent a season at Newcastle. Now he’s back at QPR it will be interesting to see how he performs. An opening month against Hull, Tottenham, Sunderland and Manchester United will be difficult so he’ll have to prove he can score against anyone. I was a bit hesitant about how Remy would perform at Liverpool but now I guess we will never know, I’m not entirely sold on how QPR will go this year so due to that I’m going to give him a miss, after selecting him for the majority of pre-season. QPR will do everything through Remy so he may just prove to be a solid selection, one we’ll have to see I think.
Well that’s a wrap of Most Popular for this pre-season. Van Persie, Dzeko, Lambert and Bony were all unlucky not to sneak into the top 5, being selected by 17, 15.5, 11.3 and 10.9% respectively. With Most Popular done for this year my focus will shift to Around the Grounds and Transitioned Players for the remainder of pre-season. Until then, Cheers!