Predicting the Premier League's Top 15 Scorers for 2012-13
Every footballer—well, most at least—would take a major trophy won with their club over an individual award any time they were offered the choice.
Still, the honour of being the top goal-scorer of a competition is one that any self-respecting striker would love to achieve. After all, when your job is to score goals, being recognised as scoring more than anyone else is a pretty good endorsement of you doing a good job.
Robin van Persie's haul of 30 Premier League goals last season won him the Golden Boot, but will the Dutchman claim the prize for a second year in a row?
Here is a list of 15 players who can expect to be in the upper echelons of the scoring charts next season.
Feel free to voice your disagreement—and you will disagree—and share your own thoughts below.
15. Frank Lampard
Reports of the Chelsea midfielder's demise proved greatly exaggerated last season. He scored 11 league goals, including a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers, and played a key part in Chelsea's Champions League triumph.
Chelsea may have signed plenty of attacking talent in midfield, but last season, Lampard showed he can adapt by dropping back to sit alongside John Obi Mikel and still exert his influence from there.
It would be a surprise if anyone else other than Lampard took Chelsea's penalties next season. The England midfielder still has the legs to make those well-timed runs that remain a rich source of goals for the 34-year-old.
14. Clint Dempsey
Last season saw USA forward Dempsey have his best ever time of it in England. Between New Year's Day and the end of the season, Dempsey scored 13 goals, leading to plenty of speculation about a move away from Craven Cottage.
So far, that move has failed to materialise. But if he does stay at Fulham, then he already has a niche carve out in Martin Jol's attacking Fulham side that should give him more success in front of goal this season. Though, perhaps he will struggle to hit the same heights again this term.
13. Javier Hernandez
After suffering what could lazily be described as second season syndrome, it would not be a surprise to see Chicharito return to his best this season.
After a debut season that exceeded even manager Alex Ferguson's expectations, the Mexico striker struggled to replicate his instinctive scoring best last term.
United blocked him from taking part in the Olympics this summer, in doing so giving him a full off-season for the first time in three years. With his batteries fully recharged, the 24-year-old will be confident he can find the back of the net with regularity again soon.
12. Mario Balotelli
Balotelli went into Euro 2012 as one of world football's most unpredictable talents, with as many writing him off as an idiot as there were hailing him as a misunderstood genius.
At the end of the tournament, after firing in two goals to down Germany in the semifinals, the Italian has raised hopes everywhere that he has finally done some growing up.
He may still struggle to nail down a first-team place, with Aguero clearly virtually undroppable and Tevez back on the scene, but Balotelli can still expect to see enough game time to post another decent goal tally.
11. Eden Hazard
Perhaps the most significant arrival into the Premier League this summer, Hazard comes to Stamford Bridge with a reputation few other 21-year-olds can rival.
Skeptics will point to that reputation being built in the French league as a reason to not get too excited. But for an attacking midfielder so young to score 20 goals in one of Europe's top leagues is an exceptional achievement.
At a cost of more than £30 million, Hazard is sure to get his fair share of playing time, and should not take too long to show the doubters that he is in fact the real deal.
10. Lukas Podolski
Amidst all of the consternation among Arsenal fans surrounding the future of Robin van Persie, it is easy to forget that they have made some excellent signings this summer.
Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla are both set to bring something to the Premier League but it is the addition of Podolski, made so early in the summer, which should be the cause for the most excitement.
Poldi scored 18 Bundesliga goals in his final season at Cologne, who were so grateful that they retired his shirt number. Arsenal fans will soon be just as devoted to him if he begins banging in the goals as expected.
9. Carlos Tevez
At the turn of the year, it seemed almost inconceivable that Tevez would still be a Manchester City player. But, there he was, scoring a stunning goal from the edge of the box as the champions won the Community Shield on Sunday.
With Aguero now also at the club, Tevez is no longer the single focal point of the attack. His natural inclination for tracking back and working for the team means that his personal goal tally may suffer.
However, a player of his devastating ability will never be too far away from the scoresheet, and he will surely bag his fair share of goals provided he does not have another "episode" and go off to work on his handicap again.
8. Emmanuel Adebayor
When the former Arsenal striker joined Tottenham on loan from Manchester City last summer, most agreed it was a shrewd move on Spurs' part, but hardly anyone could have predicted his excellent return of 17 league goals and 11 assists.
While he may not replicate those figures again this coming season, Adebayor has shown over the years that he can be highly effective when his mind is fully on his game.
The Togo international's appearance here on the list is on the proviso that he completes a return to White Hart Lane on a permanent basis this summer, otherwise he will be fortunate to see any Premier League action at all back at City.
7. Fernando Torres
This is hardly the first time it has been predicted that Torres has finally turned a page on his struggles and is finally ready to return to the form which once made him the most feared striker in the Premier League.
No doubt he would point to the Champions League winners medal, Euro 2012 winners medal and the Golden Boot from the latter tournament as evidence that he is not exactly over the hill yet, but he was hardly a central figure for either his club's or country's recent triumphs.
With Didier Drogba finally gone and a wealth of creative talent recruited by Chelsea, if Torres does not finally start grabbing the goals with regularity now, then perhaps he never will again.
6. Rickie Lambert
The Southampton striker has been dubbed by some as this season's answer to Grant Holt, but that is to do Lambert a disservice.
Like Holt, Lambert has spent his entire career in the lower leagues, and has been consistently banging in the goals all the way through Southampton's alarming rise up the divisions. In three years at St Mary's, the 30-year-old has scored 77 league goals for the Saints.
The former Rochdale and Bristol Rovers forward has plenty of strength as well as heading and finishing ability. He is also likely to take a few cultured top-flight defenders by surprise as he fires Nigel Adkins's side to safety.
5. Papiss Demba Cisse
When Newcastle signed Cisse in mid-January from German club Freiburg, many Newcastle fans could have been forgiven for being a bit non-plussed about the transfer.
Those doubts were further fueled when he failed to score in three matches as Senegal, one of the pre-tournament favourites, crashed out of the African cup of Nations at the group stage.
However, 13 goals in 14 Premier League appearances later, no one is questioning him anymore. It is not just the number of goals he has scored, but the wonderful array of them which have raised expectations about what levels he can reach in his first full season in England.
4. Robin Van Persie
Plenty of uncertainty still surrounds the Arsenal captain and his future. Where once he looked a dead cert to move to Manchester City, now it looks like a 50/50 between him staying at Arsenal and moving to Manchester United.
Regardless of where he ends up, there is little doubt that Van Persie will score plenty of goals. The only question is whether or not he will be able to match last season's extraordinary exploits.
If he stays at the Emirates then he will have new teammates Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud also vying for goals, while at Old Trafford he will also not have the entire attack geared around him.
In either case, he may not be able to score with quite the same frequency as last season, and that's without even mentioning the spectre of injury which has plagued him for much of his career once again rearing its head.
3. Darren Bent
Aside from an ill-fated spell at Tottenham—when Harry Redknapp once showed great man-management by remarking that his wife would have finished a chance Bent missed—the striker has enjoyed an enviable scoring record wherever he has played.
His goals helped keep Villa up after arriving there for the second half of the 2010-11 season, but things took a bad turn last season. After he saw both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing sold in the summer, injury and Alex McLeish's negative tactics restricted Bent to just nine league goals last season.
Now fully fit ahead of the new season and with a manger, Paul Lambert, who embraces attacking football rather than fears it, Bent is set for another highly productive season in front of the goal.
2. Wayne Rooney
Last season, on the club stage at least, was Rooney's best of his career to date. The England striker scored 27 goals in the league for Manchester United; his best ever return.
Traditionally, Rooney's scoring form will blow hot and cold throughout a season, but last term he only went five games without scoring on one occasion. Between February and the end of the season, he scored 17 goals in as many games in all competitions for United as they were pipped to the title at the last moment.
Rooney is now very much the main man at Old Trafford, and with the addition of Shinji Kagawa to the supply line, he enters his peak years as a player with every chance of extending his personal best even further.
1. Sergio Aguero
The Argentina striker certainly had a major impact in his first season in England.
He came off the bench to score twice on his Manchester City debut last August and rounded off the campaign by scoring the injury-time winner against QPR which landed the club the title.
In between, Kun scored 20 other league goals in an exceptional debut season for the club, including seven in his last eight games.
Having only just turned 24 and with a year to get used to a new league and a new club behind him, all signs point towards Aguero's scoring exploits increasing even more next term.