Yes you read that correctly.
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Emile Heskey is as good as Didier Drogba, says Gérard Houllier
It felt like one of the most unlikely comparisons to make, and will certainly raise a few eyebrows, but there was no hint of a smile on Gérard Houllier’s face today when the Aston Villa manager likened the much-maligned Emile Heskey to Didier Drogba, one of the best centre-forwards in the world. Football fans everywhere could be forgiven for wondering whether Houllier was joking, but the Frenchman was deadly serious.
With Heskey and Drogba born two months apart and both standing 6ft 2in tall there are, in fairness, a couple of parallels that could easily be overlooked ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Villa Park tomorrow. The case, however, starts to appear a little thin when their respective strike-rates come under the microscope, with the six goals Drogba has scored in eight Premier League games this season as many as Heskey has managed in the 49 appearances he has made for Villa in the top flight.
Houllier, though, sees similarities between the two 32-year-old strikers. “I watched the [Chelsea] game against Arsenal. Drogba is a hard-working centre-forward,” he said. “But we have a centre-forward who can do the same. Emile is strong, quick, powerful. It’s mainly a matter of faith in himself. In terms of skill, he does things in training that you would be amazed and surprised [to see]. I think Emile forgets sometimes how good he can be.”
Houllier said it was fair to talk about Heskey in the same breath as Drogba, who is missing tomorrow because of a virus: “Drogba is a fantastic centre-forward, probably the best in the world. He’s got everything. He can score by himself, be on the end of crosses, head the ball, take free-kicks, and he works very hard for the team. But Emile has got some attributes that look like Didier, but he doesn’t seem to use them. When he uses them, he’s the centre-forward you saw in the last few games.” (Guardian)
Well this is surely some sort of sick joke? If the intention is to give Emile a confidence boost ahead of the big match against Chelsea today then perhaps he may have been better saying more realistic things about his England forward.
Let’s look at the cold hard statistics. Ivory Coast striker Drogba has scored 24 goals in 2010 for his Chelsea side, Emile Heskey has scored 25 Premier League goals in the past five years. This kind of puts things in perspective.
Their overall records do not quite show any credence to Houllier’s claims either. Heskey has managed 115 goals in 503 league matches. Drogba has scored 90 in 173 which is clearly some way more prolific than the Leicester born battler.
I am all for trying to boost a player’s ego and it makes good sense to show your faith in one of your players but to make such a comparison will just further highlight how ineffective Heskey has been for the majority of his lengthy career.