Do your homework
“Defenders are quicker and more intelligent the higher you play. You have to tailor your game depending on their qualities. If the defender is slow but clever, you have to outrun them – but if they’re smart they’ll drop off to stop you getting in behind and using your pace. If they’re fast, you have to think of ways you can steal a yard on them in dangerous positions. You have to out-think your opponents at the top level.”
Play on the edge
“Standing offside isn’t always a bad thing. The more a defender can see of you, the easier you’re making their job. If you play on the shoulder, they don’t know where you are. They don’t know whether you’re going to come to feet or go long. You have to play on the edge so you can beat the offside trap. Timing your run is crucial – get it wrong and you’ll be offside. Keep getting caught and you’ll lose the trust of your team-mates.”
Think like a finisher
“Don’t shoot and think: ‘This is never going to go in’ – believe your shot is going to beat the goalkeeper. Sometimes it isn’t about hitting the perfect strike, as scruffy shots can go in; it’s more about having the confidence and composure to finish. How often do you see a player get a chance and panic? It happens to the best players. They snatch at a chance and think: ‘How did I miss that?’ You must think clearly in front of goal.”
Be ready for anything
“You need to be able to score goals with your head, your left foot and your right foot, and be comfortable striking volleys and free-kicks. Whatever the situation, you have to be confident. If you miss a chance during a game, you can’t use the excuse, ‘It was on my left foot’ or ‘That was on my right foot’. To be a top striker, whatever your level, you’ve got to be a clinical finisher no matter what opportunity you’re presented with.”
Don’t take the bait
“Some defenders kick your ankles off the ball or go over the top in a challenge to try to get a reaction out of you, but it doesn’t affect me. It just shows that they’re thinking about me. They wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t worried about the threat that I pose. It’s the aim of the game to get into your opponent’s head. They can do what they want to me, but if I’m getting into good positions and scoring goals, then I’m happy.”
Keep moving forward
“If you miss a chance, you have to forget it and move on. You’ve got a job to do. If you get distracted by negative thoughts, you’ll miss your next chance and lose confidence. In my first game for Bournemouth I missed two first-half chances and West Ham punished those misses in the second half. But I picked myself up and scored in my next three games. Strikers will miss chances; what matters is how you respond.”
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