It’s time for the impossible question of the week. Who is the best forward in the Premier League? Some people might say that Fernando Torres’ pace and clinical finishing makes him the sure fire choice for the majority. Others may claim that Wayne Rooney’s drive and determination set him apart from the rest. Several supporters may find that the craft and guile of Robin Van Persie is easy on the eye whilst biased Sunderland and Tottenham fans wouldn’t swap Darren Bent or Jermaine Defoe for anyone else.
However, there is one striker who is currently performing on a different level in my personal opinion. The life of Didier Drogba as a footballer has never been plain sailing. After taking his time to impress in France, he was snapped up for a pricey £24 million by Chelsea in 2004, which was seen as a large risk at the time. In Drogba’s initial months in England, he was often accused of cheating and trying to con referees into giving him free kicks and penalties. Drogba never helped his cause by publicly stating that he tries to win penalties throughout the course of a game.
In patches during the last couple of years, his strength and aerial prowess have made him fairly unplayable. A lack of consistency combined with his tendency to fall out with his manager have stopped him making the progression from one of the best around to quite simply the best about.
Under Luis Scolari in 2008, Drogba found himself out of favour and quite often on the bench. When Guus Hiddink took over, the Ivory Coast striker seemed to find the form that had seen him justify his £24 million price tag. So far during the 09/10 campaign, Chelsea has scored 41 goals. 22 of those have either been scored by Drogba (12), laid on with an assist from the Ivorian (7) or scored from the penalty spot once he’s been brought down in the area (3). That means that 54% of the goals Chelsea have scored have come about at least because of Drogba’s direct involvement.
To make this more impressive, the striker hasn’t played in three of the Champions League games so far or in one of the Carling Cup ties against QPR. 34 goals have been scored in the matches that Drogba has played in. Therefore, that means a staggering 65% of Chelsea’s goals have come as a result of Drogba when he is in the team.
In the past, some wild antics and ridiculous behaviour has tarnished his reputation and overshadowed some rather impressive performances. Who could forget the forward’s furious referee rant caught live on television after Chelsea were eliminated from the Champions League last season against Barcelona. So far under Carlo Ancelotti, Drogba has avoided any controversy which is probably a large reason why he is in the form of his life.
Not everybody will agree with that assessment as football is a game of opinions. Different characteristics in a player’s game appeal to different people. In truth, there is no right or wrong answer to the argument of who is the best striker in the Premier League, as long as you can make an argument of course. Traditional supporters may make a case for Kevin Davies’ physical style of play as being a rarity these days. Nothing is ever set in football and this time next week, the whole country may be talking about a superb hat-trick or berating a star’s fall from grace.