Paul Higham has scoured the Premier League Golden Boot market and picked out a 7/1 outright selection and 40/1 each-way bet to be top scorer.
There’ll be no surprises in this season’s race for the Premier League Golden Boot given the quality and track record of the main protagonists.
Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero will all be there or thereabouts once again but it’s relative newcomer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who catches the eye when looking at a mix of record, prospects and price.
The Gabon captain has been popular with punters over recent weeks, and for good reason as he managed 31 goals in total last year despite making a usually unsettling mid-season move as he joined Arsenal from Dortmund.
Slightly lost in the Arsene Wenger farewell saga last season was that the manager brought in one of the best strikers in European football and one that had been coveted by all the big teams on the continent after bagging 42 goals in 51 games and 36 in 45 in the previous two seasons.
A promising partnership with Alexandre Lacazette is developing and the Frenchman is a worthy each-way shout himself given his 14-goal return last season and the fact that he has been given the central role by new manager Unai Emery when the two have played in pre-season.
Starting out on the left does not seem to stop Aubameyang from finding the back of the net, though, and he’s also been played through the middle when Lacazette isn’t starting – and that versatility will give him the chance of more game time at the Emirates.
For reasons outlined below, there are just a few question marks over minutes, form and fitness surrounding the other major players in the market, but with none of those and the new manager factor, Aubameyang can make a strong play in a resurgent Arsenal side making a push for the top four.
Who are the other Golden Boot contenders?
Harry Kane (Best price: 3/1)
The England captain hasn’t been out of the top two in the scoring charts in his four full seasons as a Spurs starter and has won it twice during that time so is rightly favourite to reclaim his crown off Mohamed Salah.
The major doubt here though is what sort of condition he’s in come the start of the season, as he looked worn out in the latter stages of England’s World Cup campaign. There’s some doubt about whether he’ll even start the season up front or be on the bench as a safeguard.
Kane fans will still get a run for their money, but caution may be the key here as a slow start will see more generous odds given and we all know just how strongly he usually finishes the campaign.
Mohamed Salah (6/1)
While there could be some drop-off from Salah’s magnificent first season at Anfield, he’s shown enough to suggest he’ll be in the goals again.
He’s now a marked man though and teams will double up as and when possible to nullify him, plus Liverpool are blessed with other options and Xherdan Shaqiri’s arrival means Jurgen Klopp may give him more rest to save him for the big games.
Sergio Aguero (10/1)
One of the best strikers of his generation, Aguero started 22 league games last season but that number could drop this season and it could badly hurt his chances. He scored almost a goal per start last year and showed in the Community Shield what a deadly finisher he is, but Pep Guardiola seems to prefer the extra mobility of Gabriel Jesus and it shows how strong City are that Aguero is not a certain starter.
He’s finished in the top four of the scoring charts in six of his seven Premier League seasons.
Gabriel Jesus (14/1)
Thirteen goals from 19 starts last season is a decent return but expect both of those numbers to go up as he’s clearly Pep Guardiola’s more fancied starter up front, and will be for the next few years after signing a new contract.
With Aguero around though he may not start enough games to win the Golden Boot.
Romelu Lukaku (8/1)
Clearly talented, but the World Cup showed both sides of his game as he punished the lesser teams and struggled in the big games. Sixteen goals last season shows he can mount a big challenge but the defensive nature of Jose Mourinho may make it tough for him to finish top of the pile.
Who are the best each-way options?
Jamie Vardy (40/1)
The departure of Riyad Mahrez is no doubt a blow, but Vardy is still the main man for Leicester, he takes the penalties, and has finished in the top four goalscorers in two of the last three seasons.
You could argue that the Foxes will play more counter-attacking football this season and that gives Vardy plenty of chances to trouble the top scorers and at least grab a place.
Alexis Sanchez (40/1)
Unlike so many of the top players this season, Sanchez is fit and firing after Chile missed the World Cup during the summer. He bagged 24 goals in his last full season at Arsenal and should get plenty of game time with his match fitness streets ahead of the other United strikers.
The Chilean can play centrally if Lukaku isn’t up to speed and has more than enough to plunder 20-plus goals again if given the licence.
Roberto Firmino (28/1)
To score 15 goals in the same team as Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah takes some doing, but if Liverpool are the same free-scoring outfit them Firmino can add at least another ten goals to that tally.
The tough-running Brazilian perhaps needs to add a touch more selfishness and be a bit more clinical but he’s more than capable of benefiting from an extra attention on Salah.
Raheem Sterling 50/1
He’s an outsider despite hitting 18 Premier League goals for the Premier League champions as he’s still not convinced as a goal scorer.
He’ll have more Pep Guardiola coaching this season and plenty of chances. Anyone watching last year knows he missed a plethora of great chances throughout the season – if he converts even half of those this time he could be a real contender.
Odds correct at 1655 BST (04/08/18)