Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why Emile Heskey’s Premier League days should be all but over

Let’s start with an astonishing fact. Emile Heskey has made the sixth most appearances in Premier League history. Yes it’s true. Heskey has made 487 Premier League appearances.

That’s more than Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher, Andy Cole and Steven Gerrard. It’s crazy. Heskey has made more appearances than many Premier League greats. Yet, most Premier League supporters would say, ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ to the idea of Emile Heskey joining their team.

Perhaps, most supporters find this statistic alarming because Heskey doesn’t score many goals, nor does he contribute that substantially in comparison to other strikers.

But it’s fair to say, Heskey does contribute, in a rather unfashionable yet crucial way. Emile Heskey’s main attributes such as his: strength, work ethic, and unselfishness. These are all attributes which have appealed to various managers.

Furthermore, Heskey’s ability to develop an understanding with his fellow strikers, have also been a contributing reason to why he is often favoured by many managers.

Take his strike-partnership with Michael Owen. Arguably, Heskey’s presence helped bring out the best in Michael Owen during his Liverpool and England days.

But the cruel fact is Emile Heskey is a striker. His job is to score goals. Heskey’s goal scoring rate is incredibly disturbing. Perhaps, fans have a right to question his goal scoring prowess. After all, it’s terrible.

His England goal scoring record epitomises this. In 62 appearances for England, he has only scored 8 goals. That’s a goal every 8 games.

Even in club football, Heskey’s goal scoring has been woeful.

Emile Heskey joined Aston Villa in 2009. Since his move he has only scored 8 Premier League goals. In fact, this season, he has only scored 3 Premier League goals. Liam Ridgewell, the Birmingham City centre back has scored more Premier League goals (4) than Heskey. But in Heskey’s defence, he has had had an injury ridden season. But even so. His goal scoring record is not inspiring. It’s unsettling for Aston Villa fans.

But what’s more odd about Heskey’s goal scoring form, is that it’s been poor for a number of years. Since the 2006-07 season, Emile Heskey has never scored more than 10 goals in all competitions. That’s 6 years without reaching 10 goals in a season. Yet, Heskey was taken to the 2010 World Cup and played in a number of crucial games. It almost defies logic. He is a striker, who can not score. But he is still representing England in Football’s biggest competition.

Emile Heskey’s poor goal scoring record begs one question. Is he still a competent Premier League striker? Or has he served his purpose in the Premier League?

To be fair, one must note, Emile Heskey is 33. Perhaps, it’s unsurprising his goal scoring rate has declined. He may not have the legs for the Premier League anymore.

But in the past, Heskey proved he could score consistently. In the early stages of his Premier League career he showed his goal scoring prowess. In total, he scored 40 Premier League goals for his first club Leicester City.

Emile Heskey’s move to Liverpool was the peak of his career. Heskey scored 60 goals in total for Liverpool. The 2001/02 season was his most productive season. Heskey scored 22 goals in all competitions for Liverpool that season. Plus, he also won three trophies too.

Although it’s widely agreed that Heskey’s best ever season was the 2001/02 season. Some argue, it was also the start of his downfall.

In the 2002 World Cup, Heskey was instructed to play on the left wing. His performances on the left wing seemed to highlight his incapacities and lead to various criticisms coming his way. Possibly, Heskey lost his confidence and self- belief during that tournament.

Heskey receives a lot of criticisms for his recent goal scoring record. Perhaps it’s deserved. But many forget to mention Heskey has scored more Premier League goals than; Steven Gerrard, Jermaine Defoe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Didier Drogba.

In fact, Heskey has scored the 16th most goals in Premier League history. In total he has scored 109 Premier League goals. It’s a pretty impressive record. But it’s also quite ironic that he now gets so much criticism for not scoring.

But there is no hiding from the fact Emile Heskey has been out of form for the last 7 years. That is in defendable.

It’s clear, a striker, especially in the Premier League has got to score consistently. But Heskey has been incapable of doing that for years.

Some may argue, Heskey’s role in the team is to support the other forwards and add a physical presence. Perhaps this is true. But Heskey has only assisted once in the Premier League for Aston Villa this season.

It seems Emile Heskey is a star of yesterday. His best days are long gone. Strikers are paid to score. Heskey has failed to do that for several years, yet he still gets substantial game time.

Of course, one could counter and say, Heskey helps link up the play and his unselfish approach is priceless. Perhaps this is true. But there are still many centre forwards in England and elsewhere who can do this. But more crucially, they can chip in with their fair share of goals.

Emile Heskey may have the 6th most appearances in Premier League history. He may also have scored the 16th most amount of goals in Premier League history.

But, its clear Emile Heskey, 33, has served his purpose in the Premier League.

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