Predicting the Outcome of the Premier League Golden Boot
With the Premier League season set to kick off this weekend, football fans worldwide will be looking forward to another high-scoring series.
The 2013/14 Golden Boot was dominated by a sensational goalscoring run by former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who ended the contest with 31 league goals.
The Uruguayan's strike partner, Daniel Sturridge, finished in second place with 22 goals.
In an unexpected, sustained cascade of spectacular goals, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure completed the podium-finish with 20 goals.
This coming season may be more of a tightly-run affair in the absence of Suarez and any one of myriad players could claim the prize.
Here follows our predicted outcome of the 2014/15 Premier League Golden Boot.
Last season saw 18 players grab 10 goals or more for their respective sides in the Premier League, often with a combination of injuries or club form affecting these tallies; Loic Remy, Edin Dzeko and Christian Benteke spring to mind.
In different circumstances it could be argued—perhaps in the absence of the mercurial Suarez—that any of these players could have challenged for the Golden Boot.
Here are 10 honourable mentions for the coming season, who could well score 15 or more:
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)
Wilfried Bony (Swansea City)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City)
Bojan Krkic (Stoke City)
Fraizer Campbell (Crystal Palace)
Shane Long (Hull City)*
Loic Remy (Queens Park Rangers)
Emmanuel Riviere (Newcastle United)
*Could well play his football at Southampton this season, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail.
5. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal): 17 Goals
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud finished last season with a respectable tally of 16 league goals, as the Frenchman was tasked with leading the Gunners line almost single-handedly.
The former Montpellier man formed a mesmeric partnership with midfielder Aaron Ramsey, but he struggled late on in the season in the Welshman's absence, along with theories of fatigue.
This season, Giroud is joined by Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez and returning loanee Joel Campbell, with a more settled Yaya Sanogo completing the north London club's strike options.
Arsene Wenger is now blessed with a versatile strike-force, but Giroud should remain the main man upfront.
Expect the Frenchman to go one better this season, with the pressure relieved by support from Sanchez in particular.
Predicted goal tally: 17
4. Robin Van Persie (Manchester United): 18 Goals
Dutch forward Robin van Persie suffered a miserable Premier League season last term, with a fractured relationship with then-manager David Moyes seeing the former Arsenal man hit just 12 goals.
Van Persie's ex-team-mate, Rio Ferdinand, spoke of the fall of the 2012/13 top goalscorer, per Daily Mail, saying "he went from being the star man, our go-to guy, the top scorer, to being almost like a sideshow."
Thierry Henry—joining Ferdinand in the BBC Sport studio—referenced Van Persie's performances under Van Gaal at the World Cup, claiming "If you have a boss that loves you, look at this."
This season under Van Gaal, the Dutchman should feel the love and find his goalscoring form once more.
Van Persie won't quite hit the podium but expect the United forward to be right up there.
Predicted goal tally: 18
3. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool): 21 Goals
Last season's silver medal, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, is this season tasked with supplying even more goals to compensate for the loss of former strike partner Luis Suarez.
The Reds have signed England centre-forward Rickie Lambert to supplement the former Chelsea man's efforts, but Brendan Rodgers still finds his front line rather thin.
Sturridge believes he is up to the challenge, with The Guardian quoting the 24-year-old: "In terms of next season for the goals, I’ll step up myself and everyone has to."
The striker alludes to a much-needed support from his team-mates, and Liverpool's pre-season campaign saw Rodgers set up his side in order to do so proficiently.
With support from a fast-moving, creative midfield featuring Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, Sturridge can flourish in the focal strike role.
Expect a similar return this season.
Predicted goal tally: 21
2. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 22 Goals
Manchester City sharpshooter Sergio Aguero struggled with injuries throughout 2013/14, but he still managed to net 17 times for the Citizens.
The Premier League champions are blessed with a plethora of exceptional strike options, with Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo joining the Argentine on Manuel Pellegrini's books.
Aguero remains the main man, however, and when fit should start most games in the Premier League.
With those 17 goals coming in just 23 Premier League games, Aguero was in red-hot form last term, with a rate of a goal every 1.4 games on average.
Suffering an injury, once more, during the World Cup underlines the brittle makeup of this majestic striker, but if Aguero's fitness can be managed well, the City man should find himself on the podium at the end of the coming season.
Predicted goal tally: 22
1. Diego Costa (Chelsea): 24 Goals
Top of the charts in this predicted list may be a surprise to some, with Premier League newcomer Diego Costa in an interesting position with title-challengers Chelsea.
The Spain striker scored 27 goals in 35 La Liga games for Atletico Madrid last term, becoming the main outlet following the departure of Radamel Falcao to Monaco.
Signing for Jose Mourinho's side for £32 million this summer, Costa enters the Premier League fray following a disappointing World Cup, but he doesn't seem to be affected if pre-season form is any indicator.
The 25-year-old has scored four goals during the London club's warm-up fixtures, including this stunning solo goal and a brace in 10 minutes on his home debut.
The Spaniard looks fearless, and Mourinho believes he has found his missing piece, per The Guardian, claiming "This is the player we bought and we were waiting for since last season. This is why we didn’t buy a striker in the winter market. We were waiting for him, we have him and hopefully everything goes well."
The Portuguese continued: "The Premier League, not just Chelsea, should be happy."
The Stamford Bridge may have ushered another goalscoring phenomenon into the English top flight, and Costa could well finish 2014/15 with the Golden Boot.
Predicted goal tally: 24
Who will win this season's Premier League Golden Boot? Let us know in the comments below.