Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and 20 Most Prolific Premier League Partnerships
Liverpool's front pairing of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have won plenty of plaudits—and points—this season for their breathtaking ability and consistency in front of goal, leading the way for the Reds' Premier League title charge.
Down the years, the top flight in England has witnessed some stunning partnerships in front of goal—but where do the current established best pairing rank amongst the most frequent goal-getters? Here's a clue...well inside the top 10.
Here's our top 20 of prolific partnerships of the Premier League era.
Considerations, Criteria and Honourable Mentions
In determining which were the best "partnerships", players did not both have to be strikers to qualify; this list aims to rank the club team-mates who contributed most in front of goal together on a season-by-season basis.
As such, a striker and a No. 10 would be classed as much of a partnership as an inside wide forward and central target man, or two centre-forwards playing together.
"Prolific" naturally states that the duo must have hit the net regularly throughout the Premier League season, so only partnerships where both players made the top 10 scorers for a season will be eligible for criteria.
In other words, a world class strike-force with one scoring 50 goals and the other assisting 40 of them, but only scoring two himself, would not make the grade—this is all about those who both contribute in beating the keeper.
Where a player played for more than one club in the season, only his goals for the same team as his partner are counted. Where three players (or more) made the top 10 scorers, only the top two are counted as the main partnership.
If multiple partnerships tally the same number of goals, the one with a higher individual score for the top scorer out of the pairing is ranked highest.
Honourable Mentions: A random selection of those who missed out
1996-97: Ravanelli and Juninho, Middlesborough, 28 goals
1998-99: Owen and Fowler, Liverpool, 32 goals
2002-03: Viduka and Kewell, Leeds United, 34 goals
2007-08: Berbatov and Keane, Tottenham Hotspur, 30 goals
2010-11: Berbatov and Hernandez, Manchester United, 33 goals
2013-14 so far: Toure and Aguero, Manchester City, 33 goals
20. Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal
Wright and Bergkamp, 35 goals
Arsenal's first campaign with Arsene Wenger at the helm saw the Gunners finish in third place, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. They also finished just behind Newcastle on goal difference though—so perhaps even more was required from this duo!
Ian Wright finished as the second-highest scorer in the league, with 23 goals to his name. Creative forward Bergkamp also notched an even dozen, to make it 35 between them.
As a final honourable mention, we'll note that Manchester United's Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole hit 35 between them too, in 1998-99, but ranked below the Arsenal duo as top scorer Yorke managed only 18. More on them later, though.
19. Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
van Nistelrooy and Rooney, 37 goals
Manchester United, 2005-06
Here's the first of four strike partnerships who tallied 37 between them.
Rooney and van Nistelrooy terrorised defences in 2005-06, as Manchester United ended the season as joint-top scorers in the table.
The Dutch striker ended with 21 goals, Rooney with 16, but it wasn't enough to clinch the title as United finished second. Perhaps surprisingly, given some of the forwards he has played with and his length of time at the club, this is the only time Rooney features on the list.
It is not the only time we will see van Nistelrooy.
T16. Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, Manchester City
Tevez and Adebayor, 37 goals
Manchester City, 2009-10
Our other three partnerships on 37 goals simply can't be separated.
First up is former Manchester City duo Tevez and Adebayor, who helped begin City's ascent toward the top of the Premier League in 2009-10. Their 37 goals lifted City to fifth in the table by season's end.
Argentine forward Tevez scored 23, with Togolese striker Adebayor weighing in with 14.
T16. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen, Chelsea
Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen, 37 goals
Chelsea weren't quite the big spenders and title winners back at the turn of the century that they are these days, but they still had put together a fair old attack with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Dutch striker Hasselbaink, he of the ferocious shot and great power, hit the 23-goal mark to end as second-highest scorer in the league.
His more technical partner, Gudjohnsen, was more heavily involved in buildup play and intelligent running, but he still cracked in 14 goals of his own.
T16. Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, Manchester City
Aguero and Dzeko, 37 goals
Manchester City, 2011-12
Manchester City's long wait for a league championship came to an end in 2011-12, with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko spearheading the line—and perhaps it was just as well. City scored 93 times throughout the season, and in the end that was what told, as they won the Premier League on goal difference.
Of course, it was Dzeko who put City back on level terms in injury time on the final day of the season, where they needed a win to clinch the title. Deep into stoppage time, Aguero himself rattled in his 23rd of the season to complete the most dramatic title win in the Premier League's history.
Dzeko scored 14 times in total. As a side note, City are the only team in this top 20 ranking who had a third player in the league's top 10 scorers for the season: Mario Balotelli scored 13. His goals are not counted here, as per the criteria.
15. Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, Arsenal
Henry and Pires, 38 goals
Get familiar with this duo; you'll see them again.
Arsenal just missed out on the Premier League title in 2002-03, ending in second place five points off the pace.
They had a great attack, though, outscoring the opposition once more and seeing Henry and Pires hit close to 40 between them. Henry was of course the higher of the two, with 24 goals to his name. French midfielder Pires scored 14.
14. Jurgen Klinsmann and Teddy Sheringham, Tottenham Hotspur
Klinsmann and Sheringham, 39 goals
Tottenham Hotspur, 1994-95
Neither Jurgen Klinsmann nor Teddy Sheringham seriously threatened to run for the Golden Boot award in 1994-95, but between them, Spurs had a fantastic attack, which breached many a resilient back line.
The duo accounted for just shy of 60 percent of Spurs' goals for the season, as they ended the campaign in seventh place.
German striker Klinsmann hit 21 goals, while deeper partner Sheringham weighed in with 18 too.
T12. Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, Arsenal
Henry and Pires, 39 goals
Henry and Pires again!
This time the duo went one better, hitting 39 between them in the Premier League in 2004-05.
Arsenal ended up in second place in the league, but they were top scorers by some distance. Henry ended as the highest individual scorer too, with 25 to his name, with Pires adding another 14—he finished as the third-highest scorer, incidentally.
T12. Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes, Manchester United
van Nistelrooy and Scholes, 39 goals
Manchester United, 2002-03
Joint 12th, another United partnership.
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored a United-career-best 25 goals in 2002-03, taking the Golden Boot award himself and his side to the league title in the process.
Paul Scholes also enjoyed a prolific season in front of goal, hitting 14 in total—a personal best for his entire career, indeed.
11. Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United
van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer, 40 goals
Manchester United, 2001-02
Season 2001-02 was a rare campaign when Manchester United not only didn't win the title but didn't even finish in the top two. They ended the season third, some 10 points off the top.
They certainly had enough firepower in their ranks though; with 87 goals they were the highest-scoring team that season.
Ruud van Nistelrooy was their top scorer, hitting 23 to finish joint-second in the league, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed his second-most prolific campaign as a United forward, notching 17 of his own. Forty in total, a tremendous haul, but not quite enough for a top 10 finish...not any more, anyway.
10. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, Manchester United
Yorke and Cole, 41 goals
Manchester United 1999-2000
Into the top 10 we go!
One of many top strike partnerships that Old Trafford has seen down the years, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke fired United to the 1999-00 league title after surpassing the 40-goal mark between them.
Neither won the top scorer award, nor indeed came in the top two, but the consistency of both was enough to aid the team significantly.
Yorke finished with 22 goals, Cole on 19.
9. Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand, Newcastle United
Shearer and Ferdinand, 41 goals
Newcastle United, 1996-97
Shearer won the Premier League Golden Boot for an incredible third time in a row in 1996-97, hitting 25 goals to finish two clear of his nearest rival. It was also the second time in four seasons that a Newcastle forward had won the award.
Les Ferdinand also hit 16 goals of his own, as the powerful and prolific forward duo fired Newcastle to second in the league, just missing out on a title in the final weeks of the season.
Their goals proved invaluable as second, third and fourth all finished level on points—Newcastle ended second on goal difference.
8. Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore, Liverpool
Fowler and Collymore, 42 goals
In trying to continue a trend set a year or two earlier by a certain strike-force, Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler were christened SCARF by some sections of the media. Hmm, didn't quite have the same ring to it.
It didn't much matter on the pitch; these two were the finest partnership of the season in 1995-96, as the team went all-out attack to try and clinch a league title. They ultimately fell short, ending the season in third place, but they were exciting to watch at both ends and finished as second-highest scorers in the league.
Fowler was chief tormentor, scoring goals from every distance and angle imaginable to finish with 28 for the season. His partner in crime, Collymore, added 14 of his own.
T6. Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, Arsenal
Henry and Pires, 44 goals
Arsenal at their peak: The Invincibles of 2003-04.
With a front line led by Thierry Henry, arguably the best forward in world football at that time, the Gunners swept all before them domestically to end the season as title winners and unbeaten in the league campaign.
Henry scored 30 goals, probably with 25 of them being bursts of pace and calm side-footed finishes from left to right. The other five were probably goal of the season contenders. Robert Pires was once again his principal back-up, hitting 14 goals from attacking midfield in a hugely fluid and offensive Gunners side.
There is no separating this duo from the next, so they both come in joint-sixth.
Appearing no less than three times in this list, though, are they the league's most reliably prolific duo of all time?
T6. Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn, Sunderland
Phillips and Quinn, 44 goals
One of the few classic little-and-large striker duos to feature, Phillips and Quinn annoyed Premier League defences at the turn of the century with their flick-on-and-finish style of attacking.
Lanky Quinn weighed in with 14 goals of his own, but his chief role was very much to take the attention off Kevin Phillips and provide him with ammunition off set pieces and direct passes to the front. Phillips was at his peak and plundered at will, smacking in 30 goals to claim the Golden Boot, a relatively rare accolade after 2000 for English players.
Rare, as in Phillips here was the last man to do so.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Manchester United
Ronaldo and Tevez, 45 goals
Manchester United, 2007-08
Another top scorer to feature now and Manchester United's former wide forward, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portugal captain was in the form of his life in 2007-08 (at least until he moved to Real Madrid, of course, and became even better) as he smashed the 30-goal barrier, recording 31 in total to take United to another league title.
He was ably assisted by Carlos Tevez, who netted 14 himself as the team's top-scoring striker that season.
4. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Suarez and Sturridge, 48 goals so far
Here they are! Liverpool's deadly duo come in at No. 4, but between them they still have 1,260 minutes of Premier League football left this season to add to that tally and rise higher in the rankings.
Suarez missed the first five league games of the season yet is still far and away the Premier League's top scorer this season, with 28 goals in 26 games.
Sturridge is the second top scorer, with a goal on Wednesday night taking him to the 20 mark too, from only 22 appearances.
How far they can go is anyone's guess, especially with the league title to fight for in the remaining matches.
3. Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, Blackburn Rovers
Shearer and Sutton, 49 goals
Blackburn Rovers, 1994-95
The original SAS duo, Shearer and Sutton combined to notch almost 50 times between them and lift the title for Blackburn in 1994-95.
Shearer scored 34 times—that's more than the rest of the team without these two strikers managed to get between them.
Sutton weighed in with 15 more to help Rovers to their only Premier League title to date, and it's likely to be an awfully long wait until the next one.
2. Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, Chelsea
Drogba and Lampard, 51 goals
Chelsea won the league title by a single point in 2009-10, and they can largely thank their phenomenal goalscoring exploits for doing so as they surpassed the 100-goal mark for the year.
Chief amongst their scorers were striker Didier Drogba, who won the Golden Boot with 29 strikes, and attacking midfielder Frank Lampard, who consistently raided forward to add 22 of his own, aided by a few penalties along the way.
It's enough for second place, but still some distance off top spot, even though they are one of just two partnerships to breach the 50-goal barrier so far, and the only ones to do it in a 38-game season.
1. Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley, Newcastle United
Cole and Beardsley, 55 goals
Newcastle United, 1993-94
The top partnership in the Premier League era is that of Newcastle's Cole and Beardsley, who plundered a magnificent 55 between them in the division's fledgling years.
Andy Cole ended the campaign with the Golden Boot, hitting 34 goals during the 42-game season, a (joint) record that still stands.
Sidekick Peter Beardsley weighed in with 21 too, as Newcastle's duo accounted for a whopping 67 percent of the team's league goals through the season.
Can Suarez and Sturridge eclipse this total over the remainder of the season? They have seven games left to do so and need eight goals in the process, so you certainly wouldn't bet against them, but for now, Cole and Beardsley are the eminent goalscoring partnership.
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