After a record-breaking season for Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrović last term, Liam Kelly looks at the market for the 2022/23 Championship top scorer, picking out three names of interest at the prices.
5pts e.w. Teemu Pukki to be Championship top goalscorer at 8/1 (bet365 1/4 1,2,3,4)
2pts e.w. Karlan Grant to be Championship top goalscorer at 18/1 (William Hill 1/4 1,2,3,4)
Let's be honest, it's unlikely we'll see Aleksandar Mitrović's record-setting 2021/22 campaign bettered any time soon, a simply astonishing 43 goals enough to win the Championship golden boot by a margin of 14.
Dominic Solanke’s excellent season was rather over shadowed as a result, with the Bournemouth striker's 29 goals scored putting him seven clear of the remainder, posting a more realistic total for the usual winner.
Of course, both Mitrović and Solanke played a significant part in helping their clubs reach the promised land of the Premier League, a hint in itself in selecting a top scorer for the second tier.
Their success last term, and tallies from previous seasons, can give us an indication as to who might be up the leaderboard in 2022/23.
If team success in the Championship is inextricably linked to candidates for top scorer, favourites for promotion might be the best place to start.
Indeed, Mitrović - among others - is evidence in that being the case. In addition to last season, he shared honours with Ollie Watkins as top scorer in 2019/20.
Ivan Toney's goals propelled Brentford to the big time in 2020/21, not seen as an outlier now given the consistent improvement the Bees made before impressing in their maiden Premier League season.
Yo-yo clubs fairly dominate the promotion betting at pre-season, which brings me, as if by design, to the headline selection in the market.
Odds correct at 1215 (18/07/22)
Fulham may well be fresh in the thoughts as the ultimate yo-yo club, but Norwich is another team that spring to many a mind as being too good for the Championship and not good enough for the Premier League.
The fact that Norwich put up a putrid performance going forward in the Premier League last season, scoring 26 goals in 38 games, can be overlooked considering their apparent contentment in being the ~20th best team in English football.
The Canaries did exactly that in an eerily similar 2019/20 campaign, before bouncing back to be the best attacking team in the 2020/21 Championship per expected goals (xG).
If that happens again, as I suspect it might, TEEMU PUKKI is more than a worthy favourite for the crown of Championship top scorer. At a standout 8/1 with Betfred, Pukki makes great each-way appeal with the four places on offer (1/4 odds).
Finland's record goal scorer needs little introduction as a contender at this level, serving up stellar numbers since joining Norwich in 2018.
Pukki topped the Championship charts in his debut season with the club, scoring 29 goals from 22.67 xG, and finished third in 2019/20, logging fewer minutes than his competition when netting 26 times from 24.73 xG.
The 32-year-old didn't disgrace himself in two seasons in the Premier League, either, despite Norwich's inability to create many scoring opportunities, tallying 11 goals in each of those top-tier terms.
With Pukki certainly not showing any signs of losing a step, a return to this level should see the Finn flourish. The added bonus of him carrying out penalty duty is another positive for the potential of this being a winning bet.
Watford and Middlesbrough are next up in the promotion market, but it's desperately hard to nail down a primary option for either team.
Boro may not produce enough from an attacking perspective to put forward a solid candidate (if one arrives), while Watford's squad is often under construction even as the season begins, making it difficult to make a selection from the Hornets.
There is, however, a solid selection to be made from the next best team in the betting — West Brom.
American striker Daryl Dike will be of interest to many, displaying the attributes needed to score goals in the Championship when bossing a brief stint with Barnsley in 2019/20, but he looks little value at the prices.
Instead, the 18/1 at William Hill about his teammate KARLAN GRANT is much more intriguing with the four places available.
Grant was clearly West Brom's standout player in a disappointing 2021/22 campaign for the club, scoring 18 goals from 20.41 xG and picking up the Players' Player of the Year award.
Not the type to benefit from Valerien Ismael’s style, Grant still managed to score 10 times, before impressing greatly with eight goals from 10.41 xG since Steve Bruce took over in February.
Although West Brom were 17th in goals scored last season (52), they ranked third in expected goals for (xGF), proving not to be short on creativity despite a poor mid-table finish.
An underperformance on the 77.5 xG manufactured had little to do with Grant’s efforts, who also scored 19 goals from 18.19 xG for Huddersfield in the prior season.
At 24, Grant is moving into his peak years, has a proven goal-getting record at Championship level and a history of taking penalties for the Baggies. With conditions to suit from the very start of the season, he can contend for the golden boot.
Few players appeal from the next raft of Championship favourites, with uncertainty surrounding the options available Sheffield United and Burnley, while reluctance should be the order of the day about the merit of Swansea's short-priced candidates, Joël Piroe and Michael Obafemi.
Coventry's MATT GODDEN, who has shown that he meets the level required to meet the place terms on offer, was going to be the third selection in this preview, but in between writing and publishing, his price has crashed from 66/1 to 33/1.
Because of that, I won't be putting him up as an official play, but will highlight my reasoning on the off chance you would still be interested at taking the 33s.
Coventry created chances equating to an average of 1.50 xG per game last season, the fifth highest figure in the Championship, showing a propensity to provide opportunities for their forward players.
Viktor Gyökeres is now around the same price having netted 18 times for Coventry last season, but Godden's 12 goals came in limited time, playing just 1,710 minutes in an interrupted 2021/22.
Godden averaged 0.52 xG per average match, 0.11 more than Gyökeres, so the disparity in price between the pair isn't reflective of performance.
Of course, the injury history of Godden raises concerns, but the nature of his absence last term settles worries that this might be a huge problem (appendix operation).
He could go well this season in an attack-minded Coventry side.
Odds correct at 1215 (18/07/22)
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