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Friday 09 August 2013

2012/13 Season Review: Forward thinking with Alan Shearer

Premier League all-time leading goalscorer analyses the leading strikers from last season

  • 'Inside the area, Van Persie has the lot,' says Shearer

  • Shearer: 'Of the five Suarez is the most important player to his club'

  • Shearer: 'When Bale is running at pace it is virtually impossible to stop him'

  • Shearer: 'Benteke’s a bully and I really enjoyed watching him progress last season'

  • Shearer: 'Michu's strength is being in the right space at the right time'

  • Shearer is the all-time leading Premier League goalscorer with 260 goals

Think strikers are alike? Then think again. These Opta datagraphs of the Premier League’s five leading scorers in the 2012/13 season show how diverse they are. From the way their goals are clustered to how often and where they’re taking shots from.

How to make sense of this? Well who better to ask than Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals. The secret to Shearer’s success, beyond talent, was knowing his enemy.

“Whoever I played against I always wanted to find out how they ticked,” says the Premier League winner and BBC Match of the Day pundit. “Whether it was centre-halves or goalkeepers, before I played them I always knew their weaknesses, their strengths and if I’d played them before, what had happened. I always did my homework and I assumed most people did that. If I was a defender now I’d be fascinated by this because these guys are the secret to a successful Premier League season.”

Shearer analyses the top five goalscorers in the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season using the graphics above provided by Opta above, which show shots attempted (white dots) with goals (yellow stars).

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

Shearer: "Robin van Persie is a very productive player. There are a few shots from outside the area. But inside he’s got the lot: he’s skilful, he’s pacy, he’ll run in behind, he’ll score spectacular goals, he’ll score tap-ins, he’ll score headers, he’ll score all sorts of goals. It helps that he plays in a team that creates chances for him week in, week out. But he’s rewarded them by putting the vast majority away. His volleyed goal against Aston Villa was my goal of the season."

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Shearer: "He’s a very different player to Van Persie. With Luis, you’ll see him try a lot more dribbles, both inside the area and outside. Technically speaking, a lot of people think that when he does these little dribbles that the ball ricochets to him and he’s a little bit fortunate. But it’s not luck, it’s because he’s so clever and so good at dribbling with the ball close to his feet. Of all the strikers on this list I would say that he’s the most important player to his club."

Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

Shearer: "It seemed that every week working on Match of the Day we’d be talking about a Bale wondergoal. But he’s different from the others, inasmuch as he’s more keen on taking pot shots. Everyone knows how strong his left foot shot is, but it’s one thing knowing about it and it’s another thing stopping it. Some coaches think you should try to stop him from cutting inside from that right side on to his left foot, but I think that’s virtually impossible. When he’s running at that pace, you can’t stop him."

Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)

Shearer: "He’s a bully and I really enjoyed watching him progress last season. In one or two of the early games you could see he was new to the Premier League, but by the end of the season he was knocking defenders off the ball to score all types of goals. His graph shows he had the fewest number of shots but he still scored 19 goals, which indicates great efficiency. And not bad considering he was playing in a struggling side."

Michu (Swansea City)

Shearer: "The graphs emphasises how different these players are. If you compare Michu with Gareth Bale for example, it’s clearly not Michu’s forte to shoot from outside the box. His strength is in and around the area, drifting away from players, being in the right space at the right time. But once you’re in that place you’ve got to finish off, and there’s a million guys that can be in the right place at the right time but not all of them can put it away. This guy can, which is why he was the bargain of the season."

This article is taken from the Premier League's 2012/13 Season Review. To read more from the review, click here >>

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Key Points

  • Premier League all-time leading goalscorer Alan Shearer analyses the leading strikers from least season
  • Using data supplied by Opta Shearer looks at how Van Persie, Suarez, Bale, Benteke and Michu are all different strikers
  • The analysis forms part of the 2012/13 Premier League Season Review