Being a team sport, individual awards are not of paramount importance in football. Statistics pertaining to the Premier League Golden Boot – a coveted trophy awarded to a season’s leading goal-scorer in the English top-flight – will prove why the game is not demarcated by the realms of personal accomplishments.
Since its first edition in 1992/93, the Premier League has handed a total of 36 Golden Boots, and only nine players from those 36 were from the team who won the title on that specific season.
2012/13 was the last edition where the Golden Boot winner was from the Premier League champions. Having said that, this accolade adds an element of thrill to an already thrilling competition, as some of the best players go head-to-head for the shining diadem and provide the spectators with a great spectacle of immaculate finishing and impeccable consistency.
Let us have a look at the frontrunners in the Golden Boot race:
1. Mohamed Salah – 15 goals
Given his form in the ongoing season, it will be a big surprise if Mohamed Salah does not stack up all the major individual awards next year. The Egyptian winger has scored 22 goals in 24 appearances, and 15 of those goals have come in the Premier League.
Salah’s best campaign in the English top-flight was back in 2017/18, where he netted 32 goals in 36 matches. He has failed to reach the 25-goals mark in his previous three seasons, but those records are highly likely to be shattered in the not-to-distant future.
Such has been the Liverpool frontman’s form that he has either scored or got an assist in 16 of his 18 Premier League appearances. Currently, Salah is head and shoulders above everyone else in the Golden Boot race, but the chasing pack will soon get an opportunity to close the gap.
He has been named in Egypt’s squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which will commence on 9th January. Provided Egypt makes it all the way to the final, Salah will miss more than a month of Premier League action and might find himself dethroned from the Golden Boot race once he is back in England.
2. Diogo Jota – 10 goals
Salah’s unavailability might spur the chances of another Liverpool player, Diogo Jota, to lift the award. The Portuguese attacker has scored 10 goals in his 17 Premier League appearances this season.
Jota scored 9 goals last season after arriving in Merseyside from Wolverhampton Wanderers, but he seems all set to double his tally this season and possibly go even beyond. Interestingly, Jota has never been as deadly in front of the goal as he is now since his best season as a professional was 2017/18, where he scored 17 goals in the EFL Championship.
The recent run of form also favours the 25-year-old lad from Porto. He has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League appearances as compared to Salah’s five goals in the same time frame. He also found the back of the net in his last UEFA Champions League appearance and will be determined to not let the Kopites miss their Egyptian King when Salah leaves for national commitments.
3. Jamie Vardy – 9 goals
Jamie Vardy belongs to a very rare group of sports personalities who, with experience, cultivate a superpower – to age backwards. It seems as if Leicester City’s 34-year-old striker is getting better with age, as he has been scoring goals for fun this season as well.
In 15 appearances, Vardy has scored nine goals for the Foxes. Having said that, his form has taken a dip in the last few weeks.
The frontman of Brandan Rodgers’ team scored seven goals in his first eight appearances but has found the back of the net only twice in his last seven matches. If he was to remain in the Golden Boot race till the end, it is about time for Vardy to put on his goal-scoring boots again.
4. The Chasing Pack with 8 goals
Though not all of them are likely to be actively involved in the Golden Boot race for long, a total of four players are currently chasing the top three with eight goals to their name.
The first name on this list is Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis. The Nigerian striker scored a few important goals for his former club Club Brugge, most notably against Real Madrid in the Champions League, but he has never been a regular source of goals until this season. Dennis has scored 8 goals in 18 matches, but like Salah, he too will leave for the Africa Cup of Nations soon.
Leeds United’s Raphinha had a fantastic 2017/18 season in Brazil which eventually got him a European move. Since then, his goals have come few and far in between, but the 25-year-old has rediscovered himself this season. He has scored 16 goals in 8 appearances for Marcelo Bielsa’s team, but with links to a possible move to German giants Bayern Munich, Raphinha too is unlikely to trouble the usual suspects.
The duo who could possibly ask a question or two is Heung-min Son and Emile Smith Rowe. Tottenham Hotspur’s ever-reliable Korean attacker, Son had a difficult start to the season but has found his rhythm back since the appointment of Antonio Conte as the manager. He has scored 8 goals in 16 appearances – four of which have come in his last five Premier League outings.
Like Son, Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe is also in brilliant goal-scoring form. He is currently his team’s leading goal-scorer with 8 goals in 17 matches, and though Salah is a bit too far, Smith Rowe could soon beat the likes of Vardy and Jota.
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