With most of the Premier League's top half needing a new striker this summer, Daniel Storey takes a look at the probable names on expensive shopping lists...
With the title races in both England and Spain looking like they might go right to the wire, Daniel Storey gives you his top ten title finishes. Think final day madness and mayhem...
10. David Marshall (Cardiff City v Chelsea)
Although Artur Boruc's clumsy Cruyff turns against Arsenal were a more obvious mistake, David Marshall's decision to bounce the ball with Samuel Eto'o in close proximity at Stamford Bridge was just as foolish, the goalkeeper admitting after the match that he had to take responsibility: "I shouldn't have bounced it and it probably is my fault."
It isn't just that error that warrants Marshall's place, however. He conceded four goals, made just three saves and managed to find a team-mate with just three passes. THREE. In 90 minutes. In fact, Marshall was given Whoscored.com's lowest individual rating of the season for the match, a rather smelly 3.7.
9. Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Norwich v Aston Villa)
Ricky van Dogcock has escaped criticism of late, but he has still scored just one Premier League goal, and that came on the opening day. Easily his most dire afternoon was in the home defeat to Aston Villa, when he managed to have five shots in the match, but not one on target.
More worryingly still was the Dutchman's woeful overall contribution. Six duels attempted (all lost), nine passes (making one every ten minutes is just laughable) and roughly 60 fewer touches than some of his team-mates. Ouch.
8. Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United v Manchester City)
It wasn't necessarily that Fellaini was absolutely dreadful in his first Manchester derby, more that, just two weeks after being signed for £27.5million, he was almost entirely invisible and anonymous as City overran the United midfield almost at will during their 4-1 victory. The champions looked better after Fellaini was pushed up the field to sit behind Wayne Rooney, but the damage had been done.
Fellaini had been on the winning side in both of his early United appearances against Crystal Palace and Bayer Leverkusen, but it was for matches such as the derby that he was signed, to demonstrate solidity, bite and a physical presence. None of the three characteristics were displayed, and Fellaini has since played 90 minutes in just two other United matches, a draw to Cardiff and home defeat to former club Everton.
7. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Newcastle v Everton)
The first entrant on our list to be substituted at half-time, a fine indicator of his embarrassing display. Newcastle as a whole were completely rotten during the first half of their match at Goodison in September, but Yanga-Mbiwa pretty much took first prize for incompetence.
For his first and second tricks, the Frenchman completely failed to track both Romelu Lukaku and then Ross Barkley, both of whom finished beautifully, but it was the third goal that acted as the buffoonery pièce de résistance for Newcastle. As a long ball came over the top and was allowed to bounce by both Fabrizio Coloccini and Tim Krul, Yanga-Mbiwa stood still, looking so forlorn, lonely and disheartened at how the planets had aligned.
Replaced by England hopeful Mike Williamson at half-time, MYM is yet to win back his place.
6. Glen Johnson (Liverpool v Hull)
Liverpool's thrashing of Spurs this weekend was all the more striking given how utterly incompetent they had appeared against Hull just two weeks previously.
On that day, Johnson was particularly awful. He allowed David Meyler to hold him off before the midfielder gave Hull a 2-1 lead in the second half, consistently failed to pick up Robbie Brady's attacking runs down the left wing and looked sluggish and out-of-sorts. Seemingly lacking any positional sense, Johnson was comfortably outshone by 20-year-old John Flanagan, filling in at left back. Just pray Johnson doesn't have one of those days against Italy or Uruguay.
5. Kevin Nolan (West Ham v Liverpool)
Kevin Nolan has been pretty woeful all season, but we are picking out his feeble excuse for a performance at Anfield earlier this month as the most evident example of his frightful form.
Nolan scored no goals and assisted no goals. He also had no shots and created no chances. He also attempted no crosses, and passed the ball just 12 times in the opposition half. He did, however, commit four fouls, one of which involved him planting his studs into the hamstring of Jordan Henderson and earning a deserved red card (and another festive period off).
And how did Nolan react after the match? By cancelling the squad's Christmas party. Cheers, captain.
4. John Ruddy (Norwich v Manchester City)
All looked rosy for Ruddy as he signed a new long-term deal at Norwich and, with Joe Hart dropped by Manchester City, he had the opportunity to impress at the home of England's No 1. Ah, well.
Beaten by a Bradley Johnson own goal to open the scoring, Ruddy then allowed a tame shot from David Silva to squirm under his body, and then just five minutes later failed to stop a weak deflected header from Matija Nastasic going past him. Being able to do little about the fourth and fifth goals, the final two finishes also rather dribbled into the goal to complete a truly miserable afternoon for Ruddy.
"I'm just looking to keep up my form going into the World Cup and get my name on that squad list. I've broken into the England squad," was Ruddy's assessment two days before the game at the Etihad. Pride before a fall and all that.
3. John O'Shea (Sunderland v Crystal Palace)
"Our leader didn't react in the way he should. That is terrible because it was a crucial game for us. It's absolutely poor and not acceptable. It was difficult to see this goal at this level. John O'Shea did something really wrong."
Even from a man of Paolo Di Canio's psychological state, that's quite the outburst to make regarding your own club captain, but O'Shea really was incredibly poor in Sunderland's shambolic 3-1 defeat at Selhurst Park.
O'Shea actually started the game brightly, but began to lose control of Dwight Gayle, not the ideal situation for any defender. On 75 minutes, the coup de grace came, as the Irishman gave away an absolutely ludicrous penalty through this stupidly unnecessary lunge on Gayle, for which he was rightly sent off.
Whilst all those around you are losing their heads, if you can sack the whole thing off by doing something stupid, you're an O'Shea, my son.
2. Michael Dawson (Spurs v Manchester City)
"Losing any match is hard but to get humiliated - and that's how it felt - it was my worst day in a Tottenham shirt."
Michael Dawson seems like a lovely young man, but we're struggling to argue with his view after he was torn at least three new ones by Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero in Spurs' 6-0 defeat. Just not quick enough to operate with a high line against anyone with as much pace and movement as Aguero, Dawson rather frequently gave the impression of a man trying to change direction in a particularly muddy bog, whilst his missed touch for the final goal was miserable.
An inept display was perfectly epitomised by Negredo's turn on the defender for City's fifth. You won't be surprised to learn that Dawson is still at home, looking under beds and at the back of cupboards to try and find out exactly where that ball went.
1. Michael Essien (Chelsea v Southampton)
There was a young man called Michael Essien
I love him, I'm happy to confess again
But against Southampton he made a mess again
Poor old Michael Essien, who has been an incredible servant for Jose Mourinho at both Chelsea and Real Madrid. Remember that volley against Barcelona? And he's only 31. Thirty-one, are you sure?! (begin ag'in)
The last line doesn't precisely fit into the rhyme, granted, but Essien is such a likeable chap that he deserves a poem before we get nasty. And we are about to.
When there are suspicions over the state of your legs, rather crucial in a professional footballer, the one thing you want to do on your first Premier League start in 18 months is get a nice early touch of the ball and ease yourself back into action. Instead, a reckless backpass after ten seconds allowed Jay Rodriguez to give Southampton an early lead, and he made things even more comical with an incredible dive before he was hauled off at the break.
"He [Essien] had a very normal performance. He played the same way Mikel plays." Even in trying to defend his man, Jose accidentally burned him.
Daniel Storey - follow him on Twitter