2019/20 Premier League tips: Best bets for the Golden Boot
Ahead of the resumption of the Premier League season, Jack Green analyses the top candidates to finish at the league's top scorer.
The Premier League title is all but decided, but this season’s Golden Boot race should provide plenty of intrigue when play resumes.
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy currently tops the scoring chart with 19 goals, two clear of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah, Danny Ings, Sadio Mane and Marcus Rashford all within five goals of the lead, though, there are still plenty of candidates to finish the season as the league’s top marksman.
Vardy’s advantage at the top makes him the favourite, but his form heading into the suspension of the season should cast some doubt over whether he can hold off the challengers.
He scored a brace in Leicester’s last match against Aston Villa in March, but those were his only two goals in all competitions in 2020.
The 33-year-old has had some injury issues this season and, although the break has likely helped in that regard, it’s still worth taking him on.
It would be no surprise at all if Vardy is chased down by Aubameyang, who scored six goals in his last eight league appearances before the season was postponed.
That run started with manager Mikel Arteta’s first game in charge – a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth – and Aubameyang’s form in front of goal has clearly improved under the Spaniard.
The Gabon international has scored at a rate of 0.75 goals per game under Arteta, compared to 0.61 per game before the Spaniard’s arrival.
At , he has a huge chance.
Tied on 16 goals are former Golden Boot winners Aguero and Salah.
Aguero has managed his tally despite appearing in just 22 of Man City’s 28 league games and will benefit from a kind fixture list that starts with a trip to Arsenal, against whom he has a phenomenal record.
It’s difficult to trust Aguero, though, given that he splits time with Gabriel Jesus up front. The Argentine has already missed six Premier League matches this season, and only one of the last 10 Golden Boot winners missed more than five games in the entire campaign.
Salah’s tendency to share the goals with Mane also means he’s worth swerving on this occasion.
Liverpool have a tricky fixture list ahead, including trips to Everton, Man City and Arsenal and a home game against Chelsea, so there are better options elsewhere.
Ings has had a fantastic season, but it would be a massive shock if he won the award given that he plays for Southampton, who are currently 14th in the Premier League.
Not since Kevin Phillips in 2000 has a player won the Golden Boot for a team that finished outside of the top six.
Finally, it’s worth having a small bet on Rashford – fit again from a serious back injury suffered in January – at .
He’s currently only five goals back despite his spell on the sidelines, so one big performance in Manchester United’s relatively kind run-in would put him right in the mix.
Rashford ranks third in the Premier League in xG and fourth in xG90 (among players with at least 15 appearances), while only Salah and Man Utd team-mate Bruno Fernandes have attempted more shots per game than the Englishman.
Rashford scored 16 goals in 19 games for club and country between 14 October and 28 December, and will surely be in with a chance if he rediscovers that form.
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