media

USUAL SUSPECTS AND NEW FACES

media

This Golden Boot race has been a strange one so far.

The usual teams and suspects are in there, with Harry Kane leading the way and strikers from the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea making up four of the top seven.

In wingers Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling, though, we have two surprise contenders sitting second and third respectively in the scoring charts.

Neither of them were expected to be quite so prolific this season – Salah’s highest ever tally of league goals prior to this season was 15, while Sterling’s was just nine.

But each now have a genuine chance of winning the Golden Boot having become such important focal points in high-scoring sides.

Also up there are Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku, whose tallies of 20 and 25 goals from last season prove they can sustain their scoring form over a whole season.

Alvaro Morata is the other major contender, though the Spaniard is already eight goals behind Kane and has never surpassed 15 league goals in a season.

CAN KANE BE CAUGHT?

media

Kane – the Golden Boot winner in each of the last two seasons – is once again in a commanding position with a one-goal lead at the top heading into 2018.

And, looking at the tallies of other previous winners at this same stage of the season (22 games), it’s hard to see the Englishman surrendering the lead.

Kane is just the second player in the last 15 years to have scored 18 league goals by this point, while nobody has ever failed to win the Golden Boot during that time having already reached the benchmark of 15.

Salah, his closest rival, would currently be leading the way in all but one of the last 15 years with his tally of 17.

But his lack of experience in these stakes is a bad omen, with 11 of the last 15 winners had at least one 20-goal season prior to claiming the award.

Particularly considering that Kane has a history of finishing strongly, coming from behind after 22 games to top the scoring charts in each of the last two seasons, the only player to do so in the last 15 years.

Barring an injury, the award is the 24-year-old’s to lose, and he’s still good value even at the relatively short price of  .

THE RUNNER-UP RACE

media

Assuming that Kane runs away with the top prize this season, the ‘Golden Boot without Harry Kane’ market is one worth focusing on.

Second place could well be decided by two players who aren’t even involved in the race: Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus.

Coutinho’s exit to Barcelona could negatively impact the chances of Salah, whose prolific scoring will likely take a hit without the benefit of playing alongside Liverpool’s best creator.

Salah notched 12 goals in 14 appearances with Coutinho in the side this season at a rate of 0.86 per game, but that rate dropped to 0.71 per game (five goals in seven matches) when the Brazilian was sidelined.

With Coutinho playing, Salah was on pace to hit 31 goals this season, but that projected total drops to 28 when adjusting for his lower scoring rate in his absence.

Aguero, meanwhile, is primed for a scoring spree with his strike partner, with whom he has had to share playing time, out for at least six weeks with a knee injury.

The Argentine has netted eight goals in the 13 games in which he and Jesus have both featured this season, and five in four when he’s played on his own and Jesus has not been involved.

It makes sense that Aguero’s Golden Boot chances will be boosted by being City’s sole man up front, and his scoring rate of 1.25 per game without Jesus puts him on track for a total of 33.

It would usually be unfeasible for a striker to maintain that kind of pace, but Aguero – playing up front for arguably the best attacking side the Premier League has ever seen – has to be worth backing to go on such a run.

The 29-year-old is  to win the Golden Boot with Kane excluded. 

Aguero to win the Golden Boot (without Kane)
{{::outcome.FormattedDecimal}} {{::outcome.Numerator}}/{{::outcome.Denominator}} 7/4