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The importance of possessing an in-form centre forward was greatly emphasised in the Premier League last season.

Sergio Aguero’s 21 goals in 25 league appearances played a huge page in securing the title for Manchester City, while Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah fired Tottenham and Liverpool to the top four ahead of Chelsea, who lacked a confident goal scorer.

This season, each of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ sides started the campaign with a striker expected to be among the goals this term. For some that has worked out, for others it has been a difficult couple of months.

Here is Squawka’s ranking of every ‘big six’ Premier League team’s first-choice centre forward so far this season.

6. Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata probably saw this season as a fresh start. Following his move to Chelsea from Juventus, the striker started 2017/18 brilliantly but finished the campaign with only 11 Premier League goals, and Olivier Giroud was signed in January because of Morata’s unreliability.

But new manager Maurizio Sarri put his faith in Morata, handing him a start in Chelsea’s first four league games.

However, the Spaniard – looking devoid of confidence – scored just once in those four starts and was eventually dropped for Giroud, who has started in each of Chelsea’s last four league games and has provided a better linking option for the Blues’ other attacking players.

With that in mind it could be argued Giroud is now Chelsea’s first-choice centre-forward (he’d perhaps be ranked a little higher on this list). But Sarri clearly saw Morata as his primary striker upon arrival, and his poor performances have already seen him lose his place in the side.

Key stat: Morata has scored just three times in his last 23 Premier League appearances.

5. Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku appeared to hit form in Man United’s 2-0 win at Burnley last month, bagging a double in a dominating first half performance, but he has generally struggled so far this season, as has his team.

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United have lost three of their opening eight league matches and Lukaku’s lacklustre movement has partly been blamed for that form. At his best the Belgian is force to be reckoned with, but he doesn’t provide much when he’s not on his game.

That said, Lukaku has won more aerial duels (19) than any other player on this list in the Premier League this term. It’s just that he hasn’t made his presence felt enough since returning from the World Cup.

Adding more pressure on Lukaku is the fact United don’t really have another centre forward to turn to, with Jose Mourinho preferring to use Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in wide areas.

Key stat: Lukaku is the youngest non-English player to reach 100 Premier League goals; 20 of those have come for Man United.

4. Roberto Firmino

After scoring in the same game, an eye injury suffered against Tottenham interrupted a promising start to the season for Roberto Firmino. He didn’t miss much football in the end, but he has only scored three goals in 11 appearances across all competitions.

Last season, the goals of Mohamed Salah meant any goalscoring contribution from Firmino was a bonus; his ability to bring both Salah and Sadio Mane into the game was more important than his own capacity to find the net.

This year, however, Salah’s numbers are down and Liverpool could perhaps do with Firmino scoring more often. Recent tight draws against Chelsea and Manchester City emphasised that need all the more.

His fine winner against Paris Saint-Germain in Europe provided further evidence of his finishing ability. But Firmino’s big chance conversion rate is just 20% in the Premier League this season, proving he could be more clinical.

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Key stat: Firmino has scored 12 goals in 17 Champions League games for Liverpool.

3. Harry Kane

Despite winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup over the summer, it was clear Harry Kane was far from himself in the opening stages of the season, a result of never really recovering from an ankle injury suffered back in March.

The striker scored three goals in his first five league appearances but appeared to lack all of the attributes that have made him one of world football’s most fearsome forwards in recent years.

Kane is now finally nearing his best, scoring in successive league matches against Brighton and Huddersfield before bagging a terrific goal against Barcelona in the Champions League, a match in which he was only outshone by the unfairly good Lionel Messi.

There is not doubt that, if he remains fit, Kane will be in the running for the Premier League Golden Boot come the end of the season so long as Spurs avoid allowing their talisman to suffer from burnout.

Key stat: Since the beginning of last season, Kane has scored 47 goals in 58 appearances for Tottenham.

2. Alexandre Lacazette

After a difficult start to the campaign, during which he was left out of Arsenal’s starting line-up in each of their first three Premier League outings, Lacazette suddenly looks like one of the Londoners’ most important players.

From last month’s win at Cardiff onwards, Lacazette has played 90 minutes in every league game until being given a rest towards the end of a thumping 5-1 victory over Fulham. The Frenchman netted two excellent goals at Craven Cottage, meaning he has scored four goals and provided two assists in 535 minutes of league football.

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His improvement has coincided with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being moved slightly to the left to allow Lacazette to be the focal point of Arsenal’s attack. Their partnership is working wonders so far, on and off the pitch.

Speaking of being the focal point: of the players on this list, only Lukaku (19) has won more aerial duels than Lacazette (16) in the Premier League this term.

Key stat: Lacazette has averaged a Premier League goal every 134 minutes this season.

1. Sergio Aguero

With eight goals in 11 appearances across all competitions already this season, Aguero is on course to match his best ever tally in a Manchester City shirt – he scored 33 goals in 2016/17.

The Argentinian’s hat-trick against Huddersfield Town in City’s first home league game proved he means business this season, although it is perhaps concerning that he has only scored in two other Premier League matches.

Still, Aguero looks as sharp as ever and will contribute to any success City enjoy this term. What’s more, Gabriel Jesus has struggled to hit form, which should ensure Aguero plays the majority of games and keeps up his goal record.

The 30-year-old has also provided two league assists, which will please Pep Guardiola to no end as City continue their quest for Premier League dominance.

Key stat: Aguero has a shot conversion rate of 75% in the Premier League this season.

The post Ranked: Every ‘big six’ Premier League team’s first-choice centre forward on current form appeared first on Squawka News.

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