Who’s the favourite for the Premier League Golden Boot?
Leicester’s Jamie Vardy leads the way with three games to go
After waiting months for the Premier League to resume, we’re only two weeks away from saying goodbye again – but there’s plenty still to be decided.
Liverpool have wrapped up the title in emphatic fashion and Norwich’s fight to stay in the division at the first time of asking has come to an end.
But the battle for European qualification continues, as does the struggle to determine which two sides will follow the Canaries through the trap door into the Championship.
And while players will insist that their team’s performances are the ultimate priority, they’ll still have one eye on individual accolades.
With three matches left to play, the race for the Golden Boot is more exciting than ever, with four stars still in with a shout.
And we’ve taken a look at each contender, dissecting their chances of finishing on top.
Jamie Vardy – Leicester City
Fixtures: Sheffield United (H), Tottenham (A), Manchester United (H)
Vardy has enjoyed yet another remarkable campaign, surpassing 20 Premier League goals for the third time in five seasons.
If he hadn’t already, the striker has well and truly left behind his tag of a ‘rags to riches’ non-league star who’s living the dream, instead firmly establishing himself as genuinely world class.
Vardy’s feats this season are even more impressive when you consider that prior to notching his 100th Premier League goal against Crystal Palace 10 days ago, he’d only managed two league goals since December.
That milestone strike against the Eagles seems to have revitalised him and proved to be the catalyst to a return to form, resulting in four goals in three games and putting him in pole position to win the Golden Boot.
But despite his three-goal lead, Vardy faces a tough final run of fixtures, with the in-form Sheffield United and Manchester United standing in his way.
But the 33-year-old has history of showing up in big games and he’ll be desperate to fire Leicester into the Champions League and claim his first Golden Boot after missing out to Harry Kane back in 2016.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal
Fixtures: Liverpool (H), Aston Villa (A), Watford (H)
It speaks volumes about Arsenal’s fortunes this season that despite having a striker on 20 goals who’s targeting a second consecutive Golden Boot, they’re currently locked in a battle with Burnley to finish ninth.
Aubameyang shared the top scorer crown with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane last season, but he’ll want it for himself this time around.
He may be three goals behind Vardy but the fixtures are in his favour, with struggling Aston Villa and Watford to come.
After a slow return following the restart, Aubameyang put Norwich to the sword with a brace and he’ll have two more relegation-threatened sides in his sights as he looks to end the campaign on form.
And he may have extra motivation to finishing the season strongly as he looks to put himself in the shop window to earn a move to a club in the Champions League.
The Gabon international is currently 2/1 to join Barcelona and he’ll more than justify the transfer fee Arsenal would want if he can overtake Vardy in the final three games.
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Fixtures: Arsenal (A), Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A)
When Salah left Chelsea four years ago, nobody would have predicted that one day he’d be back in the Premier League and targeting his third successive Golden Boot.
But the Egyptian’s relentless prowess in recent seasons has made him one of Europe’s most feared attackers and he was a major part of Liverpool winning their first league title in 30 years.
It’ll be a tough ask for Salah to surpass Vardy, particularly as he faces Arsenal and Chelsea in his final three games of the season.
But he’s proved he’s capable of scoring against anybody and it helps that both London sides have experienced their fair share of defensive frailties this term.
One obstacle standing in Salah’s way is rotation, with Jurgen Klopp experimenting with his line-ups as he looks to prepare for next season.
But with Manchester City’s 100-point record still firmly in their sights, Liverpool will need their talisman firing on all cylinders if they want to finish their incredible season in style.
Danny Ings – Southampton
Fixtures: Brighton (H), Bournemouth (A), Sheffield United (H)
After several seasons of injury hell and being written off when at Liverpool, Ings has enjoyed a stunning comeback, firing in 19 goals for Southampton and putting himself in contention for an England recall.
With four goals since the restart, Ings has been a revelation for fantasy football managers and he’ll still fancy his chances at closing the gap on Vardy.
Southampton are one of the league’s form sides despite having relatively little to play for and they’ll take no prisoners when they come up against Brighton and Bournemouth, two sides fighting to stay in the division.
Both sides have shipped goals for fun in recent weeks and Ings will be licking his lips at the thought of facing their porous defences.
First up is Brighton on Thursday, who lost 5-0 at home to Manchester City last time out, and if Ings can replicate Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick, he’ll be right back in contention for the Golden Boot.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication