PREMIER LEAGUE

Premier League: Who are the Golden Boot contenders as English football returns?

The race to be crowned Premier League top goal-scorer is far from decided with four players from four clubs still in the running.

Premier League: Who are the Golden Boot contenders as English football returns?
Phil Noble REUTERS

With three-quarters of the season played Liverpool have proved themselves to be the best team in the league, but the mantle of top goal-scorer is still to be decided. Currently topping the charts is Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy but some of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers are hot on his heels.

No one since Robin van Persie in 2012/13 has won both the title and the Golden Boot in the same campaign but Liverpool fans will be hoping that Mohammed Salah can overhaul the Leicester hitman with nine rounds of fixtures still to play. The 2018/19 season saw the Golden Boot split between Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and you would not bet against them coming close again this year.

Jamie Vardy

Despite being 33-years-old Vardy has shown no signs of slowing down and looks set to hit 20 league goals for the third time in the Premier League. He is currently on 19 and with Leicester chasing Champions League qualification he will have all the motivation he needs to win his first Premier League Golden Boot.

He has a tricky run-in with games against fellow European challengers Chelsea, Arsenal, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United but the pacy forward seems to thrive in the big games. Leicester’s first match after the restart sees them face Watford, who Vardy has scored against in the last four fixtures between the two clubs. He is two goals clear of his nearest competition with nine games to play and will hope to repeat his incredible season-ending form from last year when he bagged eight in the final nine matches.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Arsenal forward shared last season’s award with Salah and Mane and is just two points off Vardy’s tally for this campaign. He has scored 49 goals in 75 league games since joining the club in January 2018, a figure only beaten by Salah (50 goals) in that time. Since taking over the Arsenal captaincy in November he has become even more central to the club and they will be desperate to agree a contract extension to avoid this being his last season at the Emirates.

The Gunners are still within touching distance of Champions League qualification places, which could be as low as fifth if Manchester City’s FFP suspension is upheld, but will need their talisman at his best if they are to sneak in. They are five points off fifth with a game in hand and Aubameyang will hope to hit the ground running against City on Wednesday evening.

Sergio Aguero

Were it not for reoccurring hamstring injuries, Aguero could well be leading the Golden Boot race this season and boasts the best goals-per-minute of anyone in contention. His 16 goals have come at a rate of one every 88 minutes this season and now back to full fitness he will want to continue that form in the final weeks.

Despite becoming City’s all-time record scorer last season Aguero has only won one Golden Boot with the club and not in the last five years. He will need some big performances to overhaul his goal-scoring rivals but faces some of his favourite opposition. The Argentinian has scored 15 goals in 11 games against Newcastle United and 11 in eight against Watford; both of whom face City in the coming weeks.

Mohammed Salah

The Egyptian looks like the most likely candidate to become the first Premier League and Golden Boot winner since 2013 and sits level with Aguero on 16 goals this campaign, three off Vardy. It would be a nice addition to Liverpool’s record-breaking season and after being eliminated from the cup competitions the Reds will be entirely focused on maintaining their league dominance.

Salah is currently on 91 goals in 144 games for the club and is in with a chance of joining the Liverpool 100 Club this season. If he can reach the century in the remaining nine games he will become the fastest Liverpool player to that landmark, beating Robbie Fowler’s club record of 165 matches.