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Dublin: Rooney the cream of the crop

Dion Dublin is one of just 14 players who can boast a Premier League Golden Boot, after claiming the top scorer's honour with Michael Owen and Chris Sutton for the 1997-98 campaign, scoring 18 goals for unfashionable Coventry City.

For 12 years, Dublin terrorised top-flight defenders and strikers alike, with his imperious aerial ability allowing him to be used as both a fearsome forward and dominant centre back throughout his club career.

Though often used as an emergency defender, Dublin was principally a prolific finisher, and between 1996 and 1999 he finished with totals of 14, 13, 18 and 14 Premier League goals whilst playing for a Coventry side consistently fighting against relegation.

With spells in the top division at Manchester United, Coventry, Aston Villa and Leicester City behind him, the now retired Dublin knows what it takes to be a successful Premier League striker. And having continued to follow the game closely as a television pundit, Dublin is in a great position to be able to analyse the league's best strikers - something he has kindly agreed to do for Soccernet.

These are Dublin's top five marksmen from the 2009-10 season:

1) WAYNE ROONEY (Manchester United) - 26 goals

This year, Rooney has fallen perfectly into the void left by [Cristiano] Ronaldo. He's enjoying the pressure and the expectation on his shoulders of having to score goals and perform well.

Strengths: He has turned into a man, a strong-minded young man who knows he has become one of the best in the world. When he's not scoring the goals, he's tracking back, he's shouting and his passion for the game is fantastic. If I was ever a manager - and that's not a plug by the way - he would be first on my list.

Weaknesses: His passion for the game is high but he needs to know when to keep a lid on it. The further you climb up the football ladder and the better you become, the more you will be targeted. Can he handle being targeted and marked man-for-man? We haven't seen that too much as yet but when he goes to the World Cup, managers will be ordering players to stay with him everywhere. It's a different type of pressure and will be interesting to see how he copes.


2) FERNANDO TORRES (Liverpool) - 18 goals

I think he is the most natural centre-forward in the Premier League. Not having him fit on a regular basis has been one of the main reasons Liverpool have struggled this season, but for him to have still scored 18 goals is incredible.

Strengths: He's a very smooth player, very silky and his goals are fantastic. He's a bit like Ian Rush - he comes alive when he needs to change a game. I just find him a very good striker to watch and the younger players should watch him and how he does his job, how he comes alive at just the right time. I really hope he stays at Liverpool, he's been a massive plus to English football. He will have a great World Cup and score a lot of goals I'm sure.

Weaknesses: I've never seen him work back, shout or organise, and he doesn't go back into the box and head the ball away or put his body on the line to stop attempts on goal. But saying that, goalscorers are often like that - I never saw Ian Rush or Robbie Fowler do any of those things either. It's the prerogative of a forward, as long as you are doing your job and scoring goals you can get away with the rest.


3) CARLOS TEVEZ (Manchester City) - 23 goals

He plays the game similarly to Rooney with his work rate off the ball. Fans love him because all they want to see is blood, sweat and tears on the football pitch - that's what they pay their money for, and that's what Tevez gives them.

Strengths: He works hard every single game - that's why the fans love him and that's why he's got so many goals. I would happily pay to watch him play and I think he brings a lot of Latin flair. He's loved in this country and even if you are not a City fan you have to admire what he does and what he brings to the English game. I think come the World Cup he has got to be one of the focal points of the Argentina team.

Weaknesses: He doesn't speak a great deal of English - though it's better than my Spanish - and he's got a dodgy barnet! Sometimes the lack of English can hinder you in terms of communication and organisation but in terms of playing the game itself, the football more often than not translates what you are trying to say - and Tevez has proved that this season.


4) DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea) - 29 goals

Outwardly he looks like he is happy again where he is and when you have a happy striker that has untold talent they are going to be incredibly dangerous - that's what he is. He's world class and scores great goals.

Strengths: What Drogba has is what I think Thierry Henry had - if he wants to score a goal, he does score. Drogba has the sort of mentality where he can score or get something out of nothing, a dead situation. He can do something that no one is expecting and just put it in the back of the net in the big games. I don't think there's a problem with his temperament anymore either - he's shown that this year.

Weaknesses: If he's not scoring goals he does go back and defend, but you need to have a lot of strings to your bow. I don't think Drogba influences the game as much as others, aside from his finishing and defensive duties.


5) DARREN BENT (Sunderland) - 24 goals

You've got to have a knack of putting yourself in the right place at the right time and taking your chances when they come along - Bent's done that more often than not this season. International level has been a difficult step for him as every defender he faces is the best in their position in that country. But on goals, he should go to the World Cup.

Strengths: Bent's pace is amazing and his runs off the ball, which some people might miss, are always intelligent. Similarly to what I did at Coventry, he's got a lot of goals at not a massive football club. I scored 18 goals - still six less than Darren - in a team that wasn't superb but we worked hard and we had good supply - that's happened this year for him too. Sometimes playing for a smaller club takes the pressure off you as a forward and a relaxed centre forward can be a dangerous animal.

Weaknesses: He doesn't tend to track back and he's not the best at heading the ball clear. Forwards are asked to do a job going back to defend and while the likes of Drogba are excellent at it, Darren's not quite so good. I had experience of playing at the back so perhaps that made it easier for me.


Dion Dublin was speaking at an event organised by Barclays, the title sponsor of the Premier League which is watched in over 500 million homes throughout the season in more than 200 countries.


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