The Premier League currently has one of the most enticing title races in years. Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham have all flown out of the blocks. The race looks set to go into the final few weeks of the season.
While the competition for the title has grabbed much of the attention as we head into the midway point of the season, another annual sub-plot has almost seemed to go entirely under the radar.
Just as this year’s title race is as competitive as we’ve seen in years, the league’s Golden Boot race is also as unpredictable for the first time in years. By this time last year, Mo Salah and Harry Kane already looked heads and shoulders above the rest, and it was obvious that the top scorer would be one of the two. Salah eventually won the gong and smashed records in the process.
This year, the stakes have been ramped up, mainly due to the arrival of former Dortmund hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January. The Gabonese striker has a reputation for easily sending the ball past goalkeepers. He has provided immediate competition for Golden Boot.
Aubameyang currently leads the race with 12 goals, with Harry Kane and Mo Salah right on his tail with 11. Betting sites have Kane as favourite to win the award, which he has done twice already, but the form of Liverpool and Salah’s new role as the club’s striker might see the balance tip in his favour.
Aubameyang’s reputation also sees him pose a serious long-term threat to Kane. Having won the Golden Boot in Bundesliga, he knows very well what it takes to score goals consistently across a 38-game season.
The ultimate winner of the award would also need the help of the creative players in his team. The likes of Christian Eriksen, Mesut Özil, and Sadio Mane would all have significant parts to play in terms of how many goals they can lay on for their striker. The more chances they see, the more times they are likely to shake the net.
Outside the three favourites, there are a couple of others who might also have a say in the race. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard both have 8 goals to their name. However, injuries have played a part in their low figures, as they were the two leading scorers in the opening weeks of the campaign.
Aguero, in particular, should not be written off, as he has won the award before. Once he and his team get into their stride, they begin to look quite scary.
Either of them rediscovering their own form could bring a new dimension to the race and have a part to play in who gets crowned top scorer in May.