Looking at Man City's strikers in 2012/13 may be a painfull investigation indeed. Tevez has fired in bursts, Aguero has suffered injury, Dzeko has sparkled at times and #45 was more Mario than Balotelli this year and was unceremoniously dispatched to Milan for a fee that I thought was beyond even the negotiating skills of Talleyrand.
I think the exercise pretty pointless if we assumed all strikers have played the same amount of minutes, so here is the breakdown in 2012/13's PL:
I also think it can be slightly confusing to list strikers statistics per minute, instead I want to list the following stats in per 90 minute format.
Scoring Efficiency, Scoring % and Goals Per 90 Minutes
We See Dzeko, Aguero and Tevez in this chart. Goals per 90 is indicated by the size of the bubble. Scoring% is listed on the vertical axis and shooting efficiency on the horizontal axis.
Balotelli is missing from this chart as his numbers, in the low teens, were so bad that he screwed the entire chart up. All 3 players are above and beyond the top 10 league average. So why haven't our strikers fired themselves into the leagues top 10?
Dzeko, despite his very good goals per 90, has not played enough minutes. Those big minutes have fallen to Aguero and Tevez, who you can see are not scoring at a high enough rate per 90 minutes to trouble the upper echelon of the Premier League's top goalscorer chart.
Their failure to score enough isn't anything to do with shot generation though. All 3 remaining strikers are excellent on the next chart.
Shots, Shots on Target and Goals Per 90 Minutes
We see a wealth of information in this one chart.
Size of the bubble indicates goals per 90 minutes. Higher the bubble the more shots on target per 90, the further right the bubble the more Total Shots per 90.
Firstly, let's talk Mario. He had registered a very strong Total Shots per 90, far above the top 10 strikers league average, but Mario was hardly getting those shots on target as witnessed by his appalling SoT per 90. What happens if you don't get your shots on target? You score 0.15 goals per 90 minutes.
Aguero and Tevez are very close to the top 10 league average in the two seperate shots categories. Tevez is just below the goals per 90 and Aguero, strangely, falls some way short of the top 10 average of 0.66 goals per 90 minutes.
Aguero is a curious case indeed. The Argentine tore up the Premier league last year in terms of goals, shots and shots on target, but his effectiveness has been limited this year. Maybe that early season knee injury has taken more from his form than we first realised.
Dzeko is killing it on all fronts. The Bosnian is much maligned by everyone except his mother and a few staunch, diehard supporters, but maybe they have a point in defending the player. His goals, shots and SoT's are well above the league's top 10 average, and are the best numbers of all the City strikers this term. But Dzeko's numbers need context and that is provided by listing a few cautionary notes on his numbers.
Dzeko has played the least minutes of the three strikers and those games from the bench are important when talking about Dzeko's numbers. More goals are scored in football games as the clock ticks toward 90 minutes. If a player of Dzeko's stature is arriving on the pitch with fresh legs it is to be expected that he may cause havoc.
Don't believe me? Dzeko has scored 5 goals in 9 tactical sub appearances (I excluded the first half sub appearances for injury, think Aguero against Southampton). In those 9 appearances Dzeko featured for 198 minutes. 5/198*90 is 2.27 goals per 90 minutes from the bench.
As a starter (and those long sub appearances due to a team-mates injury) Dzeko has 6 goals in 1153 minutes for a goals per 90 of 0.46.
In short Dzeko has recorded some amazing results in high pressure situations, for which we are thankful, but his numbers as you see them above are skewed by those rich sub minutes. Dzeko is scoring substitute goals at a rate 4 times quicker than his starter goals.
In conclusion our #1 striker has seen his effectiveness and numbers fall off, in part due to injury. Tevez is a wonderfull #2 striker who is possibly on too much money for what he can produce. Dzeko may be too effective to be a #3 striker, but his performances from the bench far outweigh his contributions when starting. Our #4 striker, underperforming and erratic was sold for £20m.
It's been a strange, mixed season for our strikers, and for better or worse the striker corps will look a lot different next season.