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Manolo Gabbiadini must avoid the pitfalls of Premier League strikers past

Monday 27th February 2017
Manolo Gabbiadini continued his impressive start with two goals at the weekend. He must, however, look to avoid the pitfalls of Premier League strikers past.
The winter of 2012 was a ground-shaking one for the Premier League and its many strikers. There had, up to that point, been a prevalent feeling suggesting that players who enjoyed goalscoring form in lesser leagues would not have the talent to transition their success into English football. The physicality, the intensity, the apparent greater talent of the league was the reason for such thinking.

However, two in-form strikers, one from Germany and one from Scotland, entered the league and changed thinking significantly since then. On January 21st, 2012, Newcastle United parted with £9.3 million of their hard-earned cash to acquire the services of one Papiss Demba Cisse. The previous season, only Mario Gomez scored more Bundesliga goals, and Freiburg saw their Senegalese centre-forward set a club record for league goals scored.

Just ten short days later and it was Everton's turn to take a dip into the in-form striking pool. David Moyes highlighted the impressive form of Nikica Jelavic at Rangers - 36 goals in 55 games was his rather impressive goal scoring record - and saw him as the perfect centrepiece of a talented, if slightly inefficient, Everton team.

Both were vastly successful for the remainder of the year. Jelavic scored nine Premier League goals in 13 appearances, ending the year Everton's top scorer having only played half of it. Cisse, meanwhile, scored 13 goals in a tremendous run over just 14 appearances. The two were magnificent throughout the short period of time, showcasing a wonderful ruthlessness in front of goal and astute positioning and anticipation, especially in the penalty area.

Since the close of the 2011/2012 season, though, Cisse has featured in 103 Premier League goals for Newcastle United. He has scored just 24 goals. Jelavic, for Everton, Hull City and West Ham, has amassed 101 appearances, scoring only 21 goals. Whatever way you like to look at it, both Cisse and Jelavic started tremendously and tailed off badly. Currently, both Cisse and Jelavic ply their trade in China. Perhaps that tells you all you need to know.

I tell you the tale of these two former Premier League strikers as a warning, more than anything else, for the hype that may very quickly engulf Manolo Gabbiadini. After being signed in the January transfer window from Napoli, the now Southampton striker has played three games for the club; two in the Premier League and an EFL Cup final on Sunday.
He has already scored five goals, should have had a sixth if not for an errant flag in yesterday's painful loss to Manchester United, and has showcased a delightful blend of intelligent movement and lethal finishing. His first goal on Sunday came from a darted run towards the near post, evading the attentions of Eric Bailly, before poking through the legs of David de Gea from close range. The second was a display of exquisite timing. With the ball dropping from the sky, Gabbiadini spins, swings his left leg around and directs the ball into the bottom corner, all in one beautifully fluid motion. It was a truly wonderful finish.

There is sure to be an ensuing media frenzy surrounding his performances. He has, unfortunately, merited it. However, as his stardom grows and the goals flow, the pitfalls of Premier League striker's past loom large. Gabbiadini will have to be acutely aware to avoid them, as he, like Cisse and Jelavic before him, looks to establish his name in the vicious world of England's strikers.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!


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