The race for the English Premier League Golden Boot as the division’s top scorer is always an interesting and dramatic one. There are numerous players with a legitimate shot of taking the trophy home at the end of the upcoming 2017/18 campaign and we’ll take a look at the 10 most likely candidates. Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur is the obvious favorite as he’s going for his third straight Golden Boot. Of course, to have any chance at leading the league in scoring, these players are going to have to stay relatively healthy between August and May and will also have to get enough playing time.
It’s impossible to score while sitting on the bench so each player needs to make sure he plays to his potential or will risk losing their spot in his club’s starting 11.Taking your team’s penalty kicks can also go a long way in the race for top scorer. The Premier League record for goals in a 38-game season is 31 by Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer while the high mark for a 42-match campaign is 34 by Shearer and Andy Cole.
10. Alexandre Lacazette
Arsenal acquired more scoring help this summer in the form of 26-year-old French international striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon just in case they lose Alexis Sanchez. The Gunners now have quite a formidable attack which includes Lacazette, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil and Sanchez. The problem is, where and when does manager Arsene Wenger play them all. However, considering Arsenal’s injury record over the past decade or so, they’ll probably need as many hands on deck as possible. Lacazette will need a little time to adapt to the Premier League, but he managed to score 28 goals on 84 shots last year in 30 games, so he definitely knows where the net is. He scored once every 109.6 minutes over the past two years and had 100 goals in 203 outings in France. But on the questionable side, he cost Arsenal about £53 million and 10 of his goals were from the penalty spot last season.
9. Jermain Defoe
Pocket-sized English striker Jermain Defoe has proven he can score goals no matter who he plays for. He’s done it throughout his career for England as well as top teams like Tottenham Hotspur and cellar dwellers such as Sunderland. He also kept it up during his short MLS stint with Toronto FC. Defoe got a Premier League reprieve this year by signing with Bournemouth on a free transfer after Sunderland was relegated at the end of 2016/17. He scored 15 goals with a brutal side last year and will now be the main man with Bournemouth, who like to play an attacking style of football. The 34-year-old will be motivated as he’s hoping to earn a spot on England’s 2018 World Cup squad if they make it. Defoe’s scored 269 goals in 649 career club matches and could add another 20 this year.
8. Daniel Sturridge
If we were guaranteed that injury-prone English international striker Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool would stay healthy for a change, he’d be near the top of this list. However, due to the amount of time he spends in the infirmary, Sturridge often makes former Premier League injury expert Owen Hargreaves look like an iron man. The simple fact is Sturridge can score goals when he feels like playing. The problem is that’s not too often. The 27-year-old ex-Chelsea and Manchester City player has 60 goals playing part time for the Reds in his 119 overall appearances. He’s been on Merseyside for four-and-a-half seasons now and has missed 78 league games out of 152 in the past four campaigns. If Sturridge plays the majority of the upcoming season and continues to score at his regular pace he should be good for at least 20 goals.
7. Gabriel Jesus
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has some backup for striker Sergio Aguero if he gets injured or for some strange reason is sold to another club. That backup is 20-year-old striker Gabriel Jesus of Brazil. Jesus joined City last January and often found himself on the pitch while the veteran Aguero sat on the bench. Jesus ended the season with seven goals in 10 games with his first five goals coming on just seven attempts on target. He also managed to score once every 97 minutes of playing time. His hot streak was derailed by an injury though and he might now have to wait his turn to get back into the starting 11. The feeling is that once Jesus starts a few games he won’t relinquish the top striker’s job at the Etihad.
6. Jamie Vardy
Leicester City striker Jaime Vardy and the rest of his teammates had an off-season in 2016/17 when compared to their title-winning campaign the year before. But the 30-year-old English international is still the kingpin at the King Power Stadium and finished last season with 13 goals. Vardy was the Premier League’s player of the year in 2015/16 when he led Leicester to the league crown with his 24 goals. He was tied with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero for second place in the Golden Boot race that year, just one behind winner Harry Kane of Tottenham. Vardy also set a Premier League record that season by scoring in 11 consecutive league contests. If Leicester can regain their form of two seasons ago there’s no reason Vardy can’t challenge for the Golden Boot once again.
5. Alvaro Morata
With Diego Costa trying to force a move out of Chelsea, the reigning Premier League Champions have acquired Spanish striker Alvaro Morata from Spanish La Liga Champions Real Madrid to replace Costa’s scoring prowess. He’s a bit of a gamble though, but he proved he could find the back of the net in Madrid and at his previous stint with Juventus of Italy. In fact, Morata scored at a better per-minute rate with the Spanish giants last year than Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. Overall, Morata managed 31 goals in 95 appearances with Real and 27 in 93 appearances at Juventus. He played 43 games with Real last season in all competitions with 20 goals to his name, but started just 15 of those matches. The 24-year-old Morata has the potential to challenge for the Golden Boot if Costa leaves and he becomes Chelsea’s first choice striker.
4. Alexis Sanchez
Chilean international forward Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal finished third in Premier League scoring with his 24 goals last season and hit the jackpot every 134 minutes of playing time. It’s still unclear if the 28-year-old will remain with the Gunners or join another Premier League club, but as long as he stays in England he should be a serious contender for the Golden Boot. Sanchez has scored 72 times in 144 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions even though he’s considered by many to be a better playmaker than finisher. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time on the pitch though and the majority of shots he takes end up on target. Sanchez also has plenty of talented teammates to help set him up and create scoring chances.
3. Romelu Lukaku
The biggest offseason transfer was arguably seeing 24-year-old Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku move from Everton to Manchester United. Lukaku challenged Harry Kane for the Golden Boot most of last season, but fell just short as Kane exploded with a flurry of goals in the last few games. Lukaku scored once every 131 minutes and finished the campaign with 25 goals to his name. He’ll be depended upon to lead the way at Old Trafford this season and will have more talented teammates, but will also be facing a lot of tight marking. With 85 league goals under his belt, Lukaku is one of just four Premier League players to score at least 80 goals before the age of 24. He’s banged in 43 goals in the last two years in 74 games and it’s hard to understand why Chelsea ever let this guy go a few years ago.
2. Sergio Aguero
Although he may be slipping a bit at the age of 29, Argentine international striker scored once every 120 minutes for Manchester City last season to finish the year with 20 goals. As long as he can stay healthy and get enough minutes in, Aguero should be a Golden Boot threat again in 2017/18. He scored at a better rate than Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku last season and has hit the 20-goal plateau four times in his six campaigns with Man City. In fact, he’s the overall top scorer in the Premier League over the past six years with 122 and captured the Golden Boot in 2014/15 with 26 goals. Only one other player scored 100 goals in Premier League history than Aguero and that was former England captain Alan Shearer, who is the division’s all-time leading goal-getter with 260.
1. Harry Kane
English international striker Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur was last year’s Golden Boot winner with 29 goals in 30 games. He also led the Premier League in goals per minute as he found the back of the net once every 87 minutes. Scoring goals just seems to come naturally to this guy as he also captured the Golden Boot for the 2015/16 campaign with 25 to his name. If Kane takes the award home again this season he’ll tie the record of three in a row set by Alan Shearer from 1994 to 1997. The 23-yar-old has reached the 20-goal mark in each of the past three seasons, which has been accomplished in the past only Shearer, Ruud van Nistelrooy of Manchester United and Arsenal’s Thierry Henry. Kane takes Tottenham’s penalties and five of his goals came from the spot last year, but it’s hard to predict how he’ll adapt to playing his home games at Wembley this season instead of White Hart Lane.