It has been one of the most hotly contested topics of conversation this season, who is the Premier League’s best striker? In the current campaign, England’s top league boasts some of the best forwards in the world, meaning the discussion has a number of possible winners.
Of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been in awesome form, dragging Manchester United towards a shot at the Champions League, while the diminutive Argentine Sergio Aguero cannot be discounted. Diego Costa is on his way to firing Chelsea to a league title, while Alexis Sanchez continues to show his ability leading the line.
Harry Kane once again displayed his ability to be influential in the big games. His goal against Arsenal was Tottenham’s second and, in truth, it was the one that really killed the game off as a contest. Of course, Dele Alli’s earlier strike was the winner, but Kane’s goal crippled Arsenal, with the Gunners knowing they couldn’t just hold back and wait to snatch an equaliser.
For Lukaku, his match against his former club was abysmal. There has been so much hype surrounding the Belgian in recent weeks and, with Diego Costa reportedly interest in a move to China, much of the pre-match talk surrounded his potential return to Chelsea.
However, on the recent Goodison Park showing, the Blues would be better off steering clear of the forward. His non-existent display against Chelsea saw Everton register just three shots on target all day. Against David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta, the Belgian was made to look ordinary as he lost the ball too often, was beaten in physical battles and become an isolated figure for much of the match.
It is easy to criticise Lukaku for one bad performance, but to say he has coasted this season with goals solely against the lower teams would be unfair, or would it?
This season, Lukaku has not been prolific enough against the top teams. These teams are of course the traditional top six in the Premier League (Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal).
In games against these clubs, the Belgian has netted just three goals, with two of these coming against City, who have been abject defensively this season, while the other came in a lost cause against an already celebrating Tottenham.
For Kane, the stats are better, if not by much:
Against Arsenal, he was constantly in the thick of it, dropping in to receive the ball and allowing runners to go beyond him, playing intelligent passes and getting the ball into space. Kane’s performance against the Gunners was a masterclass in playing well as a striker without scoring a load of goals.
For Lukaku, Chelsea completely shoved him out of the game; he was anonymous throughout, unable to influence the game on the scoresheet or by being creative, it was a hugely disappointing day for the forward.
In conjunction with this is their differing success rate against their biggest rivals. Following his penalty against the Gunners, Kane has now become the top scorer for Tottenham in North London derbies with six goals, overtaking Gareth Bale, while the forward has scored in both games against Arsenal this season, helping Tottenham to four points out of a possible six against Arsenal.
For Lukaku, he has failed to find the net against Everton’s arch rivals Liverpool this term, with the striker particularly poor in their recent game, with the Toffees falling to a 3-1 defeat, which means Everton have not taken a point from Liverpool in the league this season.
Therefore, the stats show an even contest between the two. Both have scored consistently this season and are powerful, athletic strikers that are clinical finishers. However, where Kane trumps Lukaku is in his ability to aid his team even when he isn’t scoring goals. The main objective of a striker is to find the back of the net, but it makes things difficult for a team if they have to carry a striker that can’t, or wont look to help their team in other ways.
Kane’s willing to pick up the ball in non-goalscoring areas, his general play and intelligence when it comes to finding space when he is in danger of getting isolated is outstanding. These are all attributes Lukaku does not have.
Perhaps the golden boot will go to Lukaku this season, with the Belgian profiting from Kane’s injury earlier in the season. However, of the two, there is only one winner.