The Premier League’s most prolific striking partnerships in a season
The last decades have marked the end of many sacred traditions of fine game.
However, while pies and pints may have bitten the dust for a long time, the classic strike partnership has made a comeback in recent years. Five of the eight instances where two players combined for a double-digit Premier League total occurred in the 20th century – including four between 1994 and 1996 – at the height of the 4-4-2 formation.
When the popularity of this system declined in the mid-2000s in favor of an attacker, the number of prolific duets also declined. Still, the latest Premier League campaign trio produced a new entrant each on this selection list, mirroring the preferred forward three of the day, as each pair contains a striker and a winger rather than the archetypal two down the middle.
Wolverhampton Wanderers appear to have come across a cheat code in the 2019/20 season, with Adama Traore’s seven assists to frontman Raul Jimenez following the same pattern.
Traore would charge towards the signing, leaving a stack of twisted defenders in his wake, before cutting off Jimenez’s back, lurking in the box.
Ian Wright? No, Thierry Henry? No.
Surprisingly, Nicolas Anelka was the man Dennis Bergkamp chose as the other half of his favorite double act at Arsenal, revealing: “As a striking partner Nicolas was probably the best I have had at Highbury in terms understanding. ”
As those first two names do not appear in this list, the numbers – for the 1998/99 season at least – confirm Bergkamp’s instinctive feeling.
The roles of Liverpool’s dreaded front-line duo in the mid-1990s were clearly defined.
Nine of the ten goals the pair combined for in 1995/96 were assisted by Stan Collymore and finished by Robbie Fowler, including all three for the latter’s hat-trick against Arsenal. The man known simply as “God” was never going to play the second violin.
From a pre-season tour of Scotland after Alan Shearer’s arrival at Blackburn Rovers in 1992, he and Mike Newell were quick friends. Shearer would later describe Newell as “an ideal punching partner, so selfless and willing to cover every blade of grass.”
Yet despite their immediate connection off the pitch, the pair’s best combination campaign came in their last season together at Blackburn – even though a certain other forward later in the roster did strike.
Kevin Gallen’s meteoric rise through the ranks of Queen’s Park Rangers – after breaking long-standing records for Jimmy Greaves’ youth team – caught fire on the senior scene as he brilliantly dovetailed with The Ferdinands in 1994/95.
However, this duo only lasted one season before ‘Sir Les’ joined Newcastle. QPR was relegated the following campaign but Gallen would rebound to enjoy an impressive career with the R.
Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson’s telepathic connection to Bournemouth in 2018/19 was not exactly easy to predict.
In each of the five seasons on either side of this standout campaign, the pair haven’t combined for more than one league goal. Yet between August 2018 and May 2019, the pair had a devastating effect. Go figure it out.
After snagging a late winner over Burnley, Son Heung-min waited for his Tottenham teammate to join him with open arms and a question: “Did you get the help?”
Harry Kane nodded reassuringly.
It took less than half a season for the Spurs duo to equal the long-standing Premier League record, prompting their manager Jose Mourinho to aptly describe their chilling bond as the continuation of ‘special things’.
They may have held the all-time record for 15 years and still have perhaps the best partnership nickname in English football history, but SAS – supposedly – has never clicked so well off the pitch as it did on this one.
Chris Sutton would later reflect on Shearer’s “lack of heat” during their two seasons together at Blackburn, with Newell’s presence still seen as hovering over the new premier duo.
Nonetheless, for that first campaign – 1994/95 – Shearer and Sutton sparkled, scoring 63% of the Rovers’ goals between them en route to the only Premier League title to be hoisted in the air.