Premier League Betting Preview: Who Will Win The Golden Boot?
Published on August 11, 2017
Harry Kane will be looking to join Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry as the only players to win the Premier League Golden Boot in three consecutive seasons when the 2017/18 campaign kicks off this week.
In netting 29 goals last season, the Tottenham striker notched up a total of 20 or more goals for the third season running, joining Shearer, Henry, and Ruud van Nistelrooy as the only players to achieve the feat. His 2016/17 tally built on the 25 he netted the season before, and the 21 achieved three campaigns ago. I could go on about Kane’s goal-scoring exploits, but the message should be clear already: Kane is lethal in front of goal and he’s on an upward trajectory that hasn’t shown signs of slowing – and in theory, it shouldn’t. However, there is one rather large stumbling block for Kane (and Tottenham as a whole) this season: they won’t be playing at White Hart Lane.
After playing their European fixtures at Wembley last season, Spurs will be playing all their Premier League ‘home’ fixtures at the national stadium too as construction on a new stadium takes place. White Hart Lane was a fortress for Spurs last season, and Kane was particularly potent on home soil, scoring 17 of his 29 league goals at home, while seven of the 12 goals he scored on his travels came in late-season hammerings handed out to Leicester City (four goals) and Hull City (three goals). Spurs and Kane will find their feet at Wembley, but at +300 you aren’t rewarded too heavily by showing faith in the England striker.
That means that Manchester United newcomer Romelu Lukaku looks a better option at only slighter longer odds of +400. The Belgian knocked in 25 goals last season while at Everton, and Toffees fans will tell you that if he hadn’t lost interest in the latter stages of the campaign he could have had more. At Everton, Lukaku at times cut a frustrated figure as the Goodison Park outfit struggled to provide the service he desired – there should be no such problems at United. With the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, and youngster Marcus Rashford providing quality service, Lukaku won’t be short of chances.
Over the course of the past two Premier League seasons, Lukaku has scored 43 goals in 74 appearances to notch up an impressive goal-to-minute ratio of one goal every 130.68 minutes. Like Kane, Lukaku is a player getting better with each season, and at just 24 his progress shouldn’t stop now.
There is another factor that Lukaku has over the rest of the chasing pack: he’s the main man at United and shouldn’t struggle for minutes or opportunities on goal. The same can’t be said of the attacking aces at cross-town rivals Manchester City, with Sergio Aguero (+700) and Gabriel Jesus (+900) both vying for what appears to be one spot in the Citizens’ starting line-up.
Aguero, the winner of the 2014/15 Golden Boot, has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons which have no doubt impacted his form. However, he heads into the new campaign having enjoyed his first real offseason in some time after he was left out of Argentina’s Confederations Cup squad. Refreshed and injury free, Aguero is sure to pocket a host of goals, and his form at the end of last season – he scored 15 goals in his last 17 games – suggests he’s getting back to his best. However, unless Pep Guardiola changes his formation to go with two strikers, Aguero might not get the playing time that will allow him to rack up enough goals for Golden Boot. Aguero and Jesus enjoyed a productive partnership side-by-side when the latter returned from injury at the end of last season, but it remains to be seen if that will be a frequent occurrence this term.
Instead, it’s Jesus who looks set to enjoy the lion’s share of the game time, lapping up the exceptional service that will be provided by an attacking midfield that boasts an embarrassment of riches. Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane, and the recently-arrived Bernardo Silva will be providing plenty of assists to whichever striker is lucky enough to find himself up front!
Unlike Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette (more on them in a moment), Jesus doesn’t head into the season completely blind, having had a taste of Premier League soccer last season after his move from Palmeiras in January – although his participation was limited by a broken foot. Despite this, five goals in three games in early February – scored with his first seven shots on goal in the league – underlined his immense potential, and he continued to impress on his return from injury.
At +900 I think that Jesus is underrated and worth a punt. Given the supporting cast he’s able to lean on and Guardiola’s apparent preference for the 20-year-old, he should easily score more than 20 goals. It does seem that his own team-mate is the biggest hurdle to him winning the Golden Boot!
Two team-mates who will also be battling it out for bragging rights in the locker-room are Lacazette (+1200) and Alexis Sanchez (+1400). I’m making the assumption that Sanchez is going to stay with the Gunners, and I think he will because Paris St-Germain are the only club still showing genuine interest, and I can’t wrap my head around the Parisians spending silly money on Neymar only to back that transfer up with the big-money signing of Sanchez.
With that said, there are two ways of looking at Sanchez who is out at +1400 for the Golden Boot. First, there is a case to be made that at such long odds a sneaky bet on the Chilean is a good option as he’s improved with each season he’s played in the Premier League and he’s unlikely to be too bothered that he’s entering the final year of his contract – in fact, this could be a motivating factor as he will likely be angling for a move away from the Emirates and will be looking to impress potential suitors. The second option is not nearly as rosy for those in the red half of north London, with Sanchez potentially unhappy not to have secured a transfer, fatigued after a Confederations Cup campaign with Chile, and unimpressed by the arrival of a new top dog in the form of Lacazette. I think it could go either way, but while Sanchez may do better than expected I don’t think he’ll do enough to top the pile.
Lacazette provides us with another interesting test case of a player’s ability to adapt to the Premier League. Playing for Lyon last season, the Frenchman had a better conversion rate than any striker in Europe who scored more than 25 goals, and he notched up a hugely impressive goal every 109.60 minutes. However, the Serie A and the Premier League are very different prospects. With Sanchez and Ozil on the flanks, Lacazette will have no shortage of opportunities, and after taking a few weeks to adjust I expect he’ll start banging in the goals.
Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata (+1000) is another who’ll need to quickly adapt to life in the Premier League. While at Juventus, Morata averaged a goal or an assist every 104 minutes, and he didn’t let his numbers slide when Real Madrid exercised their option to bring him back to La Liga – the only player in Spain’s top flight to have a better goal-to-minute ratio last season was one Lionel Messi. With Diego Costa’s future uncertain and Chelsea short of other options, Morata should have the run of it at the head of the Blues’ attack, but while that might sound good for his goal-scoring chances, the 24-year-old is not accustomed to playing as a lone striker which will be another adjustment. I’m not convinced Morata’s transition will be seamless and so I think it’s best to steer clear of this one.
Liverpool’s hopes rest with Sadio Mane (+4000) and Daniel Sturridge(+4000), but I don’t think either man is a realistic option. Of the long shots, Jermain Defoe (+5000) is the most intriguing. Last season the veteran scored 15 goals for a woeful Sunderland side that were relegated in dismal fashion, and so a move to Bournemouth provides a considerable upgrade and a team that plays attacking soccer.