The role of a striker has evolved. We now live in a world where ‘false nines’ are becoming more popular than the classic target man number nine. Nevertheless, one factor remains the same. Scoring goals.
As a result of this evolution, and the emergence of the 4-3-3, we now see fewer teams operating in a 4-4-2 formation – meaning we now see fewer strike partnerships.
Over the years, title winning teams were built on two strikers who could put the ball in the back of the net. We take a look at the top 10 striking partnerships in the Premier League’s history.
Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
While they may not have scored as many goals as the other partnerships on this list, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal were a joy to behold. As individuals, they are arguably two of the most gifted footballers to ever play in the Premier League.
Bergkamp usually took the role as provider with Henry being the finisher. The duo spent six years in North London under Arsene Wenger, lifting three leagues titles and scoring countless amounts of brilliant goals.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
It seemed set for Liverpool to win the Premier League title back in 2014 when they had the most feared strike force in Europe. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were given the (awful) nickname of SAS, and under Brendan Rodgers, they were firing Liverpool to the top of the table.
They bagged 52 goals between them – Suarez notching 31 and Sturridge grabbing 21. Suarez was named PFA Player of the Year despite Liverpool finishing second and eventually moved to Barcelona in the summer. Sturridge has never been the same since his departure and now looks likely to leave himself.
Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea)
Nicolas Anelka joined Chelsea from Bolton Wanderers back in January 2008 but scored just one goal following the move to Stamford Bridge in his first season. However, with Didier Drogba injured, he scooped the golden boot in his first full season with 19 goals.
With both strikers back to at full fitness, Chelsea won the Premier League. Drogba won the golden boot, but the partnership with Anelka had blossomed. They went on to win two FA Cups together before Anelka was eventually moved out wide to accommodate the Ivorian in the centre which forced the Frenchman to leave the club.
Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore (Liverpool)
Robbie Fowler had already established himself as one of the league’s deadliest strikers during his time at Liverpool. Stan Collymore moved to Anfield in 1995 for an English record fee of £8.5m. After scoring on his debut, his form continued which pushed Ian Rush to the bench.
Fowler and Collymore struck up an incredible understanding and made them one of the most prolific partnerships in Europe. Collymore averaged a goal every 2.5 games but turned creator to Fowler as the season progressed. They netted 42 goals in the 95/96 season.
Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie (Manchester United)
Sir Alex Ferguson pulled off one of the transfer deals of the century when he managed to lure Robin Van Persie from title rivals Arsenal. The Dutchman’s arrival moved Wayne Rooney into a much deeper role, but the pair clicked instantly.
RVP’s goals delivered Sir Alex a Premier League title in his final season at the club with Rooney turned provider – registering ten assists and scoring 12 goals. Van Persie won the Golden boot with his 26 strikes giving him the Premier League medal he so desperately craved.
Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn (Sunderland)
The ideal big man and little man partnership was formed at Sunderland. After being promoted to the Premier League, the Black Cats were favourites to drop back down, but the form of Kevin Philipps and Niall Quinn catapulted them to a seventh place finish.
They scored 44 goals between them, Phillips grabbing 30 to become the first Englishman to win the European Golden Boot; a feat which no English player has been able to achieve since.
Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton (Blackburn Rovers)
One of the main reasons Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League in 1995 was due to Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. They were the first SAS and had a greater goal output than Suarez and Sturridge which ultimately delivered their side a Premier League title.
They netted 49 goals between them on their way to Blackburn’s only their first league crown since 1914, but their success was short-lived as Sutton bagged just one goal in the following season.
Eidur Gudjohnson and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea)
Before Roman Abramovich’s billions were able to attract the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa to Chelsea, Eidur Gudjohnson and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink led the line for the Blues. They were nicknamed ‘fire and ice’ and formed a formidable partnership.
Costing just a combined £19m, they netted 50 goals in the 2001/02 season; their first together at the club. The pair started to put Chelsea on the map, and they finished second in the league just two years later with Abramovich’s investment making Chelsea into a real force.
Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole (Manchester United)
The striking partnership of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole at Manchester United almost never happened. Aston Villa were not willing to let Yorke leave without receiving Cole in return until a transfer request forced their hand. They went on to form what is rightfully considered the greatest striking partnership the Premier League has ever witnessed.
There was a sense of telepathy in their forward play – highlighted by the outstanding goal scored by Cole against Barcelona. They were part of the treble winning side of 1999 and scored 94 goals in 105 appearances together.
Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley (Newcastle)
Before Cole joined Manchester United, he formed a deadly partnership at Newcastle with Peter Beardsley. In their first season back in the top-flight, they finished third with the duo scoring a staggering 55 goals.
Despite Beardsley coming to the end of his illustrious career, he formed a perfect partnership with Cole who was considered one of the country’s hottest prospects. Beardsley had his most productive season ever alongside Cole who left for Old Trafford just a season later.
Who do you think was the best striking partnership in Premier League history?