Besart Berisha or Bruno Fornaroli? Ola Toivonen or Adam Le Fondre? Archie Thompson or Shane Smeltz?

Every few seasons a battle for supremacy is ignited, and today we look back through the archives and dig up some key statistics to compare the best strikers past and present.

Are strikers getting better or are defences getting weaker? That’s one debate many appear to have online, and the answer is probably the former.

The standard of the A-League has increased, meaning the defences have improved, and therefore the strikers have needed to improve with it. That’s not to take anything away from the strikers from the early season’s of the league or their achievements, but I would love to see Archie Thompson or Shane Smeltz in their prime going around today.

The first graph shows how many goals were required to be awarded the golden boot award each season. Although it is important to remember that the first four seasons only had 21 rounds, season 2010/11 30 rounds, and the rest 27.

Winner: Bobo. However, credit must be given to Bruno Fornaroli for bagging 25 goals in a team that finished fourth in his first year in the A-League. The majority of the other winners played for a team that won the league.

Now, let’s move onto total goals in the A-League. Some will say that to judge the best ever goal scorer, you will need to look at total goals scored. Obviously, this will depend on how much time a player stays in the league, but there is some validity to that claim. David Villa had the potential to be the type of marquee Melbourne City needed to have themselves heard. Instead, he lasted all of four matches, winning zero.

By comparison, if Alessandro Del Piero only lasted four matches, his two seasons with Sydney FC wouldn’t have been praised as much as it has been. So, a player lasting a long time in the A-League has some credibility when assessing the ‘best ever’. And the best ever in terms of all-time goal scoring is Besart Berisha.

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To examine the counter argument, though, let’s have a look at the striker with the best goals-to-games ratio in the A-League (minimum of ten games).

Winner: Ola Toivonen. Although he still has a long way to go. Interestingly, though, all the names are from recent seasons, perhaps highlighting how clinical the modern-day striker is.

There’s also no doubting that to be a successful striker in the A-League, it helps to play in a team who are also successful and can make finals appearances to boost up your goal tallies. However, have you ever wondered who has the most goals during the final’s series? Well, you’re about to find out.

Archie Thompson’s goal tally is heavily increased by his five-goal heroics in the 2007 A-League Grand Final, where his Melbourne Victory side went on to defeat rivals Adelaide United 6-0. Besart Berisha also has a wealth of experience playing in finals matches with the Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, but the two of them stand head and shoulder above the rest.

Based on some analysis of the key stats, it’s apparent that the two largest clubs in the league (Victory and Sydney FC) have had the most success in the final third.

However, individually, the winner has to be Besart Berisha. Although incredibly controversial with some of his antics (perhaps none more so than what lead to him scoring the winning penalty against the Perth Glory in the dying stages of the match in the 2012 Grand Final), there can be no doubting his ability on the park as a footballer.

His work ethic combined with his technical capability made for a quality player in the A-League, and I for one am very sorry he is gone.

That said, his predecessor at the Victory, Ola Toivonen, could go on to pass Berisha should he finish this campaign strongly and stick around for a few seasons yet. Not to mention Adam Le Fondre if he can bag a few more ‘sausage rolls’, or even a comeback from the unwanted man, Bruno Fornaroli. We all know what he’s capable of.

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Football writer and radio presenter. Loves everything football (well, except Italian's diving since '06).