Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains top of the standings in the race for the European Golden Shoe with 30 points, but a number of his rivals have edged closer to him, as he failed to add to his tally in his team's 1-1 draw with Cologne on Saturday.
Diego Costa fired Chelsea to a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday to take his league tally for the season to 12 goals—equalling the amount he scored last year in almost half the number of games.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski sit close behind him on 11 goals apiece, having each netted a brace over the weekend.
Here are the standings as of Monday, December 12:
|Golden Shoe 2016-17: Dec. 12 Standings|
|Position||Player||Team||Goals x Factor||Points|
|1||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Borussia Dortmund||15 x 2.0||30.0|
|2||Yevgeni Kabayev||Kalev||25 x 1.0||25.0|
|T3||Diego Costa||Chelsea||12 x 2.0||24.0|
|T3||Anthony Modeste||Cologne||12 x 2.0||24.0|
|T3||Edin Dzeko||Roma||12 x 2.0||24.0|
|T3||Mauro Icardi||Inter Milan||12 x 2.0||24.0|
|T3||Azdren Llullaku||Gaz Metan Medias||16 x 1.5||24.0|
|8||Vitali Rodionov||BATE Borisov||15 x 1.5||22.5|
|T9||Lionel Messi||Barcelona||11 x 2.0||22.0|
|T9||Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich||11 x 2.0||22.0|
|T9||Andrea Belotti||Torino||11 x 2.0||22.0|
|T9||Alexis Sanchez||Arsenal||11 x 2.0||22.0|
|T9||Gerard Gohou||FC Kairat||22 x 1.0||22.0|
Each European league is assigned a difficulty factor, by which the number of goals is multiplied to calculate each player's points tally.
As such, goals scored in the Premier League or La Liga are worth two points, but in Ligue 1, they are only worth 1.5.
Costa Stars in Narrow Win
Costa was the difference in a hard-fought match at Stamford Bridge, as West Brom stifled Antonio Conte's men.
An outstanding defensive effort from the Baggies had restricted the Blues to just one shot on target—a David Luiz free-kick—but Costa was alive to take advantage of a Gareth McAuley error in the 76th minute.
After the defender failed to clear his lines, the Spain international dispossessed him before curling a sumptuous effort past Ben Foster to earn his side three points and return Chelsea to the top of the table:
Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez offered his opinion on Costa, backed up by Squawka Football:
The striker has improved significantly on his efforts last season—at this stage, he had only netted five goals—and his cutting edge will play a huge part in the Blues' title challenge.
Chelsea have won nine Premier League games in succession, and with Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth comprising their next three opponents, there's an excellent chance Costa will help them to yet more.
Messi and Lewandowski Bag Braces
After Luis Suarez opened the scoring against Osasuna on Saturday, Messi rounded out the 3-0 win with two goals of his own.
The Argentinian converted Jordi Alba's pull-back at the near post—sending the ball into the opposite corner—before a fine solo effort late on, which saw him evade several defenders before firing home with his left foot.
Messi achieved yet another milestone in doing so:
Meanwhile, Lewandowski helped Bayern to a 5-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg, tapping in a rebound from an Arturo Vidal shot before redirecting an off-target strike from Thomas Muller.
He also achieved an impressive landmark, per Squawka Football:
Both Messi and Lewandowski are likely to be in contention for the award come the end of the season along with Aubameyang.
However, with the winter break fast approaching in Spain and Germany, the likes of Costa and Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez could steal a march on their rivals if they can keep firing during the Premier League's busy festive period.