Who Is The Best Striker At St Mary's ?
Thursday, 22nd Jul 2010 09:27 by MacDougall's Ghost
Ask any Saints fan this question and there would probably be only one answer, however that would be a little unfair.
Saints are lucky to have three strikers who know where the back of the net is, Rickie Lambert is of course the hero of the fans due to his penchant for hitting an unstoppable free kick and this is a vital weapon in our armoury, but all good football teams need variety and luckily thats what Saints have got up front at the moment, variety and as we shall now see, both Barnard and Connolly can quite rightly put their own cases for claiming to be the best striker at St Mary's
Lets take Super Rickie Lambert first, he brings a lot to the table and scores a lot of goals, but they are a different type of goal to his fellow strikers at SMS, to be blunt most of his goals do not come from open play, they are from free kicks, penalties and getting on the end of dead ball situations, he rarely scores from completely open play.
As I said this is not a criticism of his talents, but praising just where his strengths lie and he is a lot more than a mere dead ball specialist, he has abilities to bring others into play as well, but it is the dead ball situation where he is most effective, taking league games only he has a career strike rate of 0.35 or to put in English, roughly a goal every three games, this rate is enhanced by last season though, when his strike rate for Saints was an incredible 0.66, Im sure he will be prolific again in 10/11, but the one worry is will Saints get enough free kicks and penalty situations for him to score from ? I think we will given the amount of time we will spend in the opposition half, but for the games that we dont we need the other two just as much.
Next up is David Connolly, his strength is his guile, he is a more intelligent player than his co strikers, he can make space for himself and others with clever work off the ball and he is a touch player, little one two's and fashion an oportunity, from this angle, he creates chances out of nothing, he is a man that will win you free kicks and penalties, not so much score them, the only downside of him is he is injury prone, despite being 33 now he has yet to amass 300 league games in total in his 14 seasons since his debut in 1996. However his strike rate is identical to Lambert's 0.35, but his has diminshed since his arrival at Saints, it may surprise some to know that its only 0.25.
Last but not least is Lee Barnard, he is a different kettle of fish altogether than the other two, firstly he is younger having just turned 26, secondly it has taken him a lot longer for him to make his mark in football, up until 2 years ago he was languishing in Spurs reserves, with the odd loan period here and there, in truth he never showed any of the five clubs he played at on loan that he was worth making the move permanent, his 20 starts plus 13 as sub produced only two goals.
It was only when he joined Southend in 2008 he came to life, 60(15) appearances for the Shrimpers produced 35 goals, not bad in a struggling side, even at St Mary's where he has often been forced to play second fiddle his record isnt bad, 14(6) with 9 goals, in fact thats a better ratio of goals per game than Rickie if you discount penalties & free kicks.
This doesnt make him better than Rickie, far from it, but different and players like Barnard often dont get credit where its due, because they dont get the spectacular strikes, Barnard is a player that will scramble the ball home, quite simply he has the knack of getting on the end of a ball in the penalty area and quite often at desperate moments, ie as in the injury time goals at Brighton and Yeovil, sometimes it aint pretty but its sure as hell vital.
It may surprise some to discover that his strike rate is 0.37 only a fraction below Lambert & Connolly's, however at Saints he has spent a lot less time on the pitch, whilst I havent got the exact stats I would hazard a guess that on a minutes on the pitch/goals ratio at Saints, his strike rate is the best of the trio and thats without taking a free kick or penalty.
So whats the final verdict ? in my opinion its a dead heat between the three, whilst Lambert will take the plaudits for unstoppable free kicks & penalties, without the other two he would probably not get those chances to start with, he also needs his fellow strikers to be weighing in, so that he has the confidence to keep hitting those free kicks with devastating effect.
The end result though is that with three strikers like these we should not have any problems scoring goals next season, but when you sing the Lambert song, spare a thought for the other two, they might not be as flambuoyant as Rickie, but they are just as vital to the Saints cause.
Photo: Action Images
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â€śAnd now the end is near, and so we face the final curtainâ€¦regrets, weâ€™ve had a few, but then again, too few to mentionâ€ť. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the Uâ€™s are today. Itâ€™ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back â€“ Iâ€™m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but theyâ€™ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
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