Wayne Rooney has finished second in the Premier League scoring charts twice but never won the honour. This could be the season when he scores more goals than anybody else while beating Bobby Charlton’s goals records for England and Manchester United. Radamel Falcao averages more than one goal every other match despite last season’s blip and maintaining his career average will get him in the mix.
In the last four seasons the leading scorer has found the net 26 times or more. The last 15 top marksmen have been from overseas. Kevin Philips was the last English top striker in the 1999-2000 season and Alan Shearer outscored everybody else over three successive years in the mid-nineties. Dion Dublin and Andy Cole are the other English leading strikers during the Premier League era.
Since the 1992-93 inaugrual Premier League only two players have scored less than 20 goals and been the top scorer. In 23 seasons the average number of goals scored by the best forward is 26. In the last six campaigns the runner-up in this market has scored at least 20 goals. The player in third spot has also required 20 goals over the last four years. This year’s leading scorer will need to play a full compliment of matches to outscore his fellow strikers.
A line can be drawn through all foreigners in their debut season as no player has come from abroad and finished top goalscorer immediately. That’s a fairly strong statistic given the stars who have been denied on their Premier League debuts. At various stages of last season Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa looked like breaking that trend but a late season burst of scoring clinched the prize for Sergio Aguero with 26 goals.
In Premier League history several players have retained the Golden Boot. Indeed Michael Owen, Shearer, Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie have won the honour back-to-back. Aguero would be a banker bet if he was sure to play in every match for Manchester City this season but the Argentinean is susceptible to injury and in each of the last four seasons he has missed seven games or more.
Costa came closest to taking the topscorer honour in his first Premier League season for a foreign player. However, despite a strike rate that over 38 matches would have clinched the deal he only played 26 times for Chelsea in the Premier League. He still has injury concerns and does not take penalties for his club so he will struggle to reach the target of 26 goals or more to win the Golden Boot.
Sanchez scored 16 league goals for Arsenal last season but he had some dips. The key to being the top scorer is consistency and scoring more often than not. He had a mentally demanding Copa America which ended in triumph for Chile but he may struggle for motivation after reaching the pinnacle of his career to date. Sanchez is versatile and although that is an asset to Arsenal may stifle his chances of personal glory.
Harry Kane came from the Tottenham reserves and spells on loan to score 21 times in the league last season which was good enough for second place. He could emulate that tally but could also not train on with defenders more wary of his scoring potential. Kane could well leave Spurs in the transfer window and become a small fish in a big pond.
Rooney can finally win the Golden Boot given a full season playing up front. He has often been a victim of his own willingness to play wide or midfield but Louis Van Gaal is clear on his plans for the England international. “He has told me he can play seven or 11,” said the United manager. “But I like him more at nine or ten.” At 29 Rooney should be at his peak and is destined to be his club’s leading scorer in their history.
The England captain has scored more than ten goals in each of the last 11 seasons and looks set for more game time as a striker than in midfield. In the past United have been short of creativity in that area but new arrivals have given Rooney the opportunity to focus on playing up front. He has been a consistent scorer even when United have struggled but Van Gaal usually gets things right and his side are genuine contenders for the title and Rooney is a key element in scoring enough goals.
Falcao scored just four goals in 26 appearances for United last season. He looked unfit and didn’t seem to get on with Van Gaal. Despite that return he has still scored 204 goals in 335 matches throughout his career in England, South America, Portugal, Spain and France. If the old saying that class is permanent and form is temporary is true Falcao should get his career back on track at Chelsea. Costa could miss games through injury and suspension and that will help Falcao rack up the goals to make the payout places in the Golden Boot market which Rooney can finally win.
Tips for the Golden Boot:
Wayne Rooney at 14/1.
Radamel Falcao at 33/1.