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Yorke & Cole, Henry & Bergkamp, Rooney & Ronaldo - the top 10 strike partnerships in Premier League history

To celebrate the 50th birthday of Premier League legend Andy Cole, Sports Mole takes a look at the 10 greatest strike partnerships in Premier League history.

A modern-day shift towards 4-3-3 formations means that the old-fashioned strike partnership is a rarity in Premier League football nowadays.

While particularly prolific partnerships can still stand out, they are no longer as commonplace as they once were in this country, with the Premier League boasting some truly iconic duos.

The man associated with perhaps the most iconic of the lot is Andy Cole, who celebrates his 50th birthday today.

As the only player to feature on the list twice, that gives us the perfect opportunity to look back at the 10 greatest striking partnerships in Premier League history.



10. Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea)

Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for Chelsea in 2001© Reuters

Nicknamed the 'Fire and Ice' partnership, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink both joined Chelsea in the summer of 2000 and helped to lay the foundations for the club which Roman Abramovich eventually turned into regular title challengers in England and Europe.

The duo spent four years together until Hasselbaink left for Middlesbrough, making 121 appearances alongside each other during that spell.

The first of those - the 2000 Community Shield - brought with it the only trophy they would share together, but their link-up play is still fondly remembered by Chelsea fans despite the greater success and big-money signings that have since followed.

Gudjohnsen and Hasselbaink netted 109 times in the Premier League between them during their mutual spell at Stamford Bridge, and combined directly for 13 goals.



9. Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn (Sunderland)

Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn for Sunderland in 2000© Reuters

While there are still instances of formidable strike duos around, one version of that which is almost extinct now in the Premier League is the big man, little man pairing.

Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn were the archetypal example of that, with the pair firing newly-promoted Sunderland to a seventh-placed finish in 1999-2000 as Phillips made the most of Quinn's many knockdowns.

The Englishman plundered a whopping 30 goals - enough to win him the Golden Boot that season - but Quinn more than played his part on the goal front too, notching 14 of his own.

That combined tally of 44 goals between them is bettered by only four other duos in a single Premier League campaign, yet they were not just one-season wonders and overall registered 91 goals between them during their time together in the top flight.

The duo linked up directly for nine Premier League goals before Quinn retired in 2002.



8. Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley (Newcastle United)

Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley for Newcastle in 1994© Reuters

Cole's first entry into this list comes from his prolific Newcastle days, as Kevin Keegan's entertainers took the Premier League by storm following their promotion in 1993.

Cole was joined by Peter Beardsley ahead of their return to the top flight, and they wasted no time in establishing themselves as a fearsome duo, scoring an incredible 55 goals between them over the course of the campaign - a Premier League record for a twosome which still stands to this day.

Beardsley chipped in with 21 of those and also acted as provider for Cole as he netted a record 34 goals in just 40 appearances, scooping the Premier League Golden Boot in the process.

The partnership was ultimately short-lived as Cole completed his shock move to Manchester United, but in their 57 games together they directly linked up to score 11 times - an even better ratio than Cole enjoyed with his more commonly-associated strike partner.



7. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool in 2014© Reuters

Another pairing whose time together was relatively short, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge's 'SAS' partnership will nonetheless live long in the memory of Liverpool fans.

Their one full season together ultimately ended in heartbreak as Liverpool narrowly missed out on the 2013-14 Premier League title, but that was not through the lack of goals scored - a whopping 52 of which were provided by either Suarez or Sturridge.

Only Cole and Beardsley can beat that tally in a single Premier League campaign, but Suarez's departure at the end of the season prevented them from adding further to their legacy as a striking duo.

Nonetheless, that scintillating season alone - coupled with 11 direct goal contributions between them in the Premier League and 14 across all competitions - earn them a spot on this list.



6. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane celebrate after Tottenham Hotspur take the lead against Burnley on October 26, 2020© Reuters

The first still-active duo in this list, on statistics alone Harry Kane and Son Heung-min could justifiably claim to be the best striking partnership the Premier League has ever seen.

The pair have, after all, directly linked up for 34 Premier League goals and counting - at least 14 more than any of the other illustrious duos on this list.

Indeed, their unprecedented tally of 14 direct goal involvements together last season alone outstrips many of the other partnerships on this list, so there is no doubt that they deserve their place.

In their time together at Spurs they have netted a combined total of over 200 goals in the top flight alone, yet the big roadblock to them climbing significantly further up this list is their lack of trophies.

Indeed, they are the final pairing in the countdown who ended their partnerships without a Premier League title to celebrate.



5. Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton (Blackburn Rovers)

Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for Blackburn in 1995© Reuters

The original Premier League 'SAS' partnership, Alan Shearer's time alongside Chris Sutton was relatively brief, but inspired Blackburn's fairytale title success in 1994-95.

Until Kane and Son's exploits last season, it was Shearer and Sutton who held the single-season record for most combined goal contributions, racking up 13 in that title-winning campaign and 14 overall.

As that statistic suggests, their second season together was far less successful as Blackburn were quickly brought down to earth - not helped by injuries to Sutton - and Shearer then left for Newcastle in a world-record transfer.

However, they remain one of the most iconic Premier League duos courtesy of their 49 combined goals in 1994-95, a tally only bettered by two other pairings in a single campaign.

Shearer provided 34 of those in 42 games, while Sutton more than played his part with 15 goals of his own.



4. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane celebrate for Liverpool on October 3, 2021© Reuters

An example of the more modern definition of a strike partnership, the relentless pressing, probing and prolific scoring of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane helped to lift Liverpool back to the top of English football for the first time in 30 years.

At times their partnership has appeared fractious, with one seemingly frustrated by the other's desire to score rather than assist, but there is no doubt about their effectiveness in leading Liverpool to be champions of England, Europe and the world.

Since Salah's arrival in 2017, the pair have directly linked up for 20 Premier League goals and scored a combined 166 at the time of writing, with Salah contributing 101 of those and Mane 65.

Those statistics are growing on an almost-weekly basis and, with 38 direct goal involvements together across all competitions, there is nothing to suggest that Salah and Mane could not end their Liverpool careers even further up this list.

The 2018-19 campaign saw them combine for 44 goals in the Premier League - sharing them evenly at 22 apiece - and while only six other striking duos have surpassed 40 goals in a season before, Salah and Mane have done so twice, and passed 30 goals in all of their seasons together.



3. Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney celebrate in 2009© Reuters

The late 1990s may have brought Premier League titles galore and an unforgettable treble, but many Manchester United fans may regard the mid-to-late 2000s even more fondly as they were treated to some thrilling attacking football.

Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were central to that third great Sir Alex Ferguson team, leading the Red Devils to six trophies during their five full seasons together, including three Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League - a triumph their third amigo, Carlos Tevez, also had a major say in.

Both nigh-on unstoppable at their brilliant best, Rooney and Ronaldo overcame a wink-induced fallout at Euro 2004 to directly link up for 20 Premier League goals, as well as netting a combined 145 times in the top flight, during their time together at Old Trafford.

Across all competitions that tally increases to 209 goals combined, as a partnership between two of the club's greatest ever players lived up to all expectations, and then some.



2. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke (Manchester United)

Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole pictured together in 1999© Reuters

When someone mentions a strike partnership in domestic English football, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke is the example which will immediately spring to mind for the majority.

The most common word used to describe their understanding is telepathic, and the Yorke-Cole axis remains the standard by which striking duos are measured to this day.

It is easy to see why too; Yorke and Cole struck up an immediate rapport after the former joined the club, combining for 53 goals across all competitions as Manchester United won an historic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

The duo then combined for another 43 goals between them the following season and backed up their 1998-99 title success with two more in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

Their iconic status was largely born out of their exploits in the treble-winning campaign - most famously an exquisite one-touch move which tore Barcelona apart - yet they are kept off top spot by the fact that they 'only' linked up directly for nine goals in the Premier League alone.



1. Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp pictured in 2005© Reuters

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp will not top any combined goalscoring charts, while their direct link-up play is also somewhere around mid-table in this particular list, but it is the mixture of longevity, success and quality which establishes them as the greatest strike partnership in Premier League history.

Bergkamp was cast as the classy creator, and is adored by many Arsenal fans even more so than Henry - the club's leading goalscorer of all time and perhaps the most common choice for the best Premier League player ever.

Together, they worked perfectly and the admiration from each to the other is clear every time they speak about one another.

In total they directly linked up for 18 Premier League goals - double the amount of Yorke and Cole - and combined for exactly 200 goals between them in the top flight during their time together.

There is no doubt who the chief goal-getter was amongst them - Henry netted 164 of the 200, whereas Bergkamp failed to get into double figures for league goals during any of Henry's seasons at the club - but both seemed to thrive in their roles.

During their time in North London, the pairing helped Arsenal to two FA Cups and two Premier League titles, most famously the 'Invincibles' campaign of 2003-04.

That so happened to be their highest-scoring combined season in the league - 34 goals, of which Henry contributed 30 - yet the Frenchman is the first to point out that it was far from a one-sided partnership and that Bergkamp was every bit as important to Arsene Wenger's side as he was.


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Andy Cole for Manchester United in 1999
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City22182254134156
2Liverpool21136255183745
3Chelsea22127345172843
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham22114741301137
5Arsenal2011273325835
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs1810352320333
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd209563229332
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves209471715231
9Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2061042121028
10Leicester CityLeicester187473133-225
11Crystal Palace215973031-124
12Southampton215972533-824
13Aston Villa2072112732-523
14Brentford2165102433-923
15Leeds UnitedLeeds205782439-1522
16Everton1954102434-1019
17Watford1942132337-1414
18Norwich CityNorwich2134141045-3513
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2019102043-2312
20Burnley171881627-1111

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