Top Scorer Premier League
Goalscoring form can be as unpredictable as anything within the football world, the two most reliable players in modern times (and possibly ever) have been Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo’s 31 goals for Manchester United in the 2007/08 season were enough to win him the Premier League Golden Boot, but who are the contenders this time around?
Finding this elite level of consistency is not something we have seen from many centre-forward’s in England, and yes, in Spain, La Liga has always been dominated by two clubs, but this should never diminish the achievement’s of those two, once in a life-time superstar’s scoring 50 plus goals in nearly every league campaign.
The rise of Harry Kane and the reliability of Sergio Aguero mark them out as the main candidates for the prize. In the past four season’s Kane and Aguero have dominated the scoring charts; the Spurs striker ratcheting up 104 goals while the little Argentine found the net 91 times.
At the end of Kane’s first year for Tottenham he was written-off as a one-season-wonder by many of the Hacks on Fleet Street who were not convinced by his ungainly, seemingly awkward style and lack of pace. They were wrong. Kane went on to win consecutive Golden Boot’s in the next two campaign’s. Mohamed Salah’s (last season’s GB winner with 32 goals for Liverpool) early substitution by Jurgen Klopp in the entertaining 1-1 clash with Chelsea last weekend have led to some tentative whisperings of the same accusation’s levelled at Kane three years ago, not for the lack of pace or skill, obviously, but the potential of becoming a one-season-wonder.
Salah really only added goal-scoring to his game when coming into his mid-20’s, and the surprising tally from last year was double anything the 26 year old had managed in his career. Electric form for Roma, where he scored 14 and then 15 in two seasons in Serie A, is what earned him his transfer to Anfield. Before that, 7 goals was the most the little Egyptian had hit in a league campaign. An injury just before the World Cup seems to have dented his confidence and halted the free-scoring momentum, and as of yet he does not look the same player for The Mighty Reds this season.
Man of the moment is Eden Hazard; the winning goal at Anfield in the Carabao Cup was a feat of brilliance that evoked memories of the greatest player of all time, Diego Maradona. Hazard’s strength, balance and fearlessness give him the ability to change direction at lightning speed, ghosting past defenders like no one else in World football.
Maurizio Sarri’s new-look attacking Chelsea gives the Belgian winger the perfect platform to reach a higher level of form and consistency. At 9.0 or 8/1, Hazard presents the best value bet for the Premier League Golden Boot, his odds were slashed recently after the impressive start to the season which has seen him score 6 in the first 7 games. If this ratio continues, expect the odds to plummet quickly, place your bets now would be my advice. Harry Kane is the bookies favourite at 5/2 or 3.5 in decimal odds, while Aguero is close behind at 4.0 or 3/1.
When Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City, many believed this would be the end for the 2014/15 Golden Boot winner, Aguero, as, it was argued, the stocky and predatory finisher did not meet the requirements of a Guardiola forward. Aguero is fast, strong and can score any type of goal, a bullet-like strike from outside the box to a composed chip over the goalkeeper, yet some speculated that his selfish instincts went against the grain of Pep’s more tactically fluid style, where his centre-forward would be expected to link-up the play with an awareness of his team-mates that never seemed to be a feature of Aguero’s performances.
However, if we look at the goal Aguero scored on Saturday that put Brighton to the sword and made it 2-0, it was everything we expect from a Pep-style central attacker (or a false no.9 as the term was coined for Lionel Messi within Guardiola’s mesmerising Barcelona side), dropping deep to find the space and driving forward, linking up brilliantly with Raheem Sterling before calmly slotting the ball home.
Pep now seems very happy with Manchester City’s all-time leading goalscorer, as I’m sure he is with the majority of his squad, and it’s this that probably rules Aguero out of winning the top scorer trophy. Unlike Tottenham, who rely on Harry Kane to win them most games, the goalscoring responsibility is shared throughout the Man City team with Sterling especially contributing a career-high 18 goals last term. The England star has continued this form, scoring 4 in 6 games at the start of this season, and he could be an interesting punt to win the award at 40/1.
Of the other top strikers in the League, Romelu Lukaku is the one with a real thirst for goals.
The forward seems destined to win the award one day, but possibly not under the defensive-minded coach, Jose Mourinho. Lukaku’s progression has mirrored that of many World-Class finishers, scoring 17 in his first full season at 18 years old, and crystallising in the 25 goals he scored for Everton that saw him finish second behind Kane for the Golden Boot and sealed his £90m transfer to Manchester United. You have to feel that his odds of 16/1 would be considerably lower if he was playing for Sarri’s free-flowing Chelsea team rather than the static and uninspiring mess that Mourinho is creating at Old Trafford, where political in-fighting appears to be more important than performances on the pitch.
If Manchester United appoint a more attack-minded manager, then Lukaku will be a serious contender for next season’s award.
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