Premier League: Top 10 Contenders for the Golden Boot in the 2011-12 Season

Varun SinghCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2011

Premier League: Top 10 Contenders for the Golden Boot in the 2011-12 Season

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    The Barclays Golden Boot, as it is now known for commercial purposes, represents the pinnacle of goal scoring charts in an English Premier League season.

    According to statistics, since its creation in 1992, it takes an average of 24.04 goals per season to win the Golden Boot. Andy Cole and Alan Shearer scored the highest number goals in a single Premier League season to win the award in 1992-93 and 1993-94 respectively, both scoring 34 times.

    Thierry Henry tops the standings, having won it an amazing 4 times with Arsenal in the 2001-02, 2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06 seasons.  This cemented his place as a Premier League legend. Alan Shearer won it 3 times in 1994-95 and 1995-96 with Blackburn, as well as 1996-97 with Newcastle, and along with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Leeds & Chelsea), the only player to win it with more than one club in the Premier League. Henry and Shearer hold the distinction of being the only players to have won the Golden Boot for 3 consecutive seasons.

    The only midfielder to be a Golden Boot recipient is the current world's most expensive player and Real Madrid star, Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored an incredible 31 goals in 34 games in the 2007-08 Premier League and Champions League winning season for Manchester United, playing predominantly as a winger. Astonishingly, Ronaldo also did so at 0.91 goals per game, which to date is the highest strike rate to win this accolade.

    Players from seven different nations have won the Golden Boot, reflecting the increased numbers of foreign transfers in the English Premier League. In fact, since the turn of the century, no English player has actually won it.  The last player to win was Kevin Phillips in 1999-2000. However, winning the Golden Boot does not necessarily translate into league success for the team.  In the 19 seasons, prior to its inception, the Golden Boot winner has interestingly only been part of the Premier League champions eight times.

    Let us take an in-depth look at the Top 10 candidates to win the Golden Boot in the 2011-12 Premier League campaign. 

Number 10: DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)

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    As a surprise entry at 10 on our list, there are no questions regarding the pedigree of Drogba who has scored 95 goals in 202 appearances at Chelsea, and is twice a former winner of the Golden Boot in the 2006-07 and 2009-10 seasons. The reason is that Fernando Torres, despite failing to impress since his £50 Million transfer from Liverpool in January 2011, is considered to be ahead of the Ivory Coast striker in the eyes of new manager, Andre Villas Boas. This is illustrated by the fact that he has not started the first two games of the new Premier League season.

    Make no mistake that Drogba will get his fair share of games, even perhaps at times with Torres, but his influence at Chelsea is considered by many to be waning. Furthermore, Drogba now 33 and has been joined at Stamford Bridge by teenage striking sensation Romelu Lakaku, dubbed by Villas Boas as 'the new Drogba'.  This name is attributed to similarities in physical stature and style of play. Looking at the figures, in 2009-10 Drogba scored 29 goals in 32 games to bag the Golden Boot, whilst last season he could only manage 11 goals in 36 outings. He may once again continue to be a huge influence at Chelsea, but it remains to be seen for just how much longer. Now with Torres the first choice striker, the lack of continuity will surely hold him back in the quest to be top scorer.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 26/1

Number 9: EDIN DZEKO (Manchester City)

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    After a slow start to his career at Manchester City (the £27 Million arrival from Vfl Wolfsburg in January 2011), Edin Dzeko is finally starting to find his feet in England. He made an encouraging start to the season with goals in the preseason games against Internazionale Milan and Manchester United in the Charity Shield, as well as a goal in each of his two starts against Swansea and Bolton for the new campaign. With Bosnia and Herzegovina, he has a decent international scoring record of 18 goals in 36 games, not to mention 66 goals in 111 games for Vfl Wolfsburg. Dzeko is tall, strong, and has a neat touch.  In his first full season at Eastlands, City fans are said to be expecting big things from the Bosnian.

    The reason he is number nine on my list is that there is no guarantee of a first team spot, even now considering the plethora of striking options at the disposal of City manager Roberto Mancini. Dzeko will hope to spearhead the Manchester City attack in all probability alongside Sergio Aguero, but it boils down to how he handles the immense pressure and hunger for success at the club. It remains to be seen if he rises to the challenge and continues to produce the performances to merit a starting berth amid heated competition, at least for now from Carlos Tevez and Italian wonderkid Mario Balotelli.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 15/1

Number 8: DARREN BENT (Aston Villa)

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    Darren Bent was the highest scoring English player last season with 17 goals in the Premier League, as he was in the 2005-06 season with Charlton Athletic. Last year eight of those goals came with Sunderland before moving to Aston Villa in a £24 Million deal in January 2011, where he notched a further nine goals. The English striker is a proven goal scorer and with the losses of Ashley Young to Manchester United, and Stewart Downing to Liverpool, his role is even more integral than ever before. Along with new signing Charles N'Zogbia, he will hope hope to lead the Villa attack, under the new regime of former Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish.

    In his last full season with Sunderland in the 2009-10 season, Bent struck 24 goals in 38 games. Not only is he the focal point of Aston Villa and a certain starter every game, but he hardly misses games due to injury missing only two Premier League games since 2009.  Therefore, he is most definitely a genuine contender for the Golden Boot. The reason he comes in at eight on our list is that he will receive inferior service at Villa who finished 15th last year, as opposed to strikers plying their trade at the top five clubs in the league. 

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 13/1

Number 7: ANDY CARROLL (Liverpool)

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    The £35 Million arrival from hometown club Newcastle United, at only 22 Andy Carroll is an incredible prospect for new club Liverpool and England alike in the years to come. Carroll is an old fashioned number 9 who is big, powerful, incredible in the air, direct and technically adept. In his time at Newcastle he proved that he can cut it with the best in the Premier League, scoring 11 goals in 19 games for a struggling team. He also now has the confidence of being the first choice striker with England alongside Wayne Rooney, and that is sure to be reflected in his performances this year.

    Brought in as part of a double signing along Luis Suarez to bolster the Liverpool attack following the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea, the Kop appreciate his blood and thunder style. The former Newcastle striker has also struck an immediate understanding playing with his new strike partner Suarez, and they seem to compliment each other in terms of their respective styles of play. In his first full season with Liverpool, Carroll will look to put behind him a stop start latter half of the campaign last year, due to injury and build on his encouraging performances in preseason.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 23/1

Number 6: ROBIN VAN PERSIE (Arsenal)

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    The new Arsenal captain, if he stays fit would be a certainty to finish top three, if not number one, on our list. Last season, he scored 18 goals and provided seven assists in 25 games, but the fact that he has never played more than 30 games for the Gunners in a season, illustrates his injury problems. That aside, his talent is there for all to see. He is considered one of the most elegant and gifted forwards in the Premier League and the world, attributed in particular to his exceptional dribbling and shooting ability. Furthermore, Van Persie is a set piece specialist, taking corners, providing assists, and scoring free kicks.

    If the Dutch international goes through the whole season fit, he will be a top contender, especially if he continues to replicate his form from last year. However, doubts linger over whether he will be able to stay totally injury free, but for his own sake and the team, Arsenal fans would hope he does so. Arsenal has already lost Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona whilst Samir Nasri looks to be on his way out too, so Van Persie will also be captaining Arsenal in what looks to be a long hard season. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to this added responsibility and the growing pressure of fans at the Emirates craving silverware.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 13/1

Number 5: FERNANDO TORRES (Chelsea)

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    A £50 Million high profile signing from Liverpool in January 2011, Fernando Torres has simply failed to settle into his new surroundings.  A return of one goal in 16 league appearances for new club Chelsea has put the pressure and limelight firmly on 'El Nino'. The fact is the cliche 'form is temporary but class is permanent', couldn't be more apt for another individual. It is a matter of time before he comes good. Torres is a world class act; rapid, strong, aerial prowess and blessed with fantastic technical ability.

    In his time with Liverpool, where he was idolised by the Kop, scoring 65 goals in 102 Premier League games to cement his reputation as one of the best strikers in the world. As a former European and World Champion with Spain, there is no question as to his pedigree or ability to handle the criticism and eventually make the huge impact that justifies his massive reputation amid questions from the fans and media alike, which he must answer. Andre Villas Boas has shown he will stand by Torres through this rough patch by picking him as a starter in the first two games of the new season, and will hope to see the Spaniard firing on full cylinders again, sooner rather than later. 

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 11/1 

Number 4: WAYNE ROONEY (Manchester United)

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    Wayne Rooney is already one of the best and most recognised players on the planet.  At the age of 25, he is only now reaching what should be his footballing peak. He is the total package, very powerful with a burst of acceleration, frightening technical ability, and an insatiable appetite for the game, characterised by his terrier like work rate.

    Strikers are eventually judged by goals and even though he scores many a fantastic goal and makes numerous assists, even Sir Alex has at times admitted his forward is not selfish enough. This is reflected by the fact that despite all his brilliance, Rooney has only scored more than 20 league goals for Manchester United only on one occasion. To be fair, he has been blighted by injury and inconsistent patches in terms of goals, but even his biggest critic cannot ever question his overall contribution to the team. He will hope to replicate the form of the 2009-10, when he won the PFA Player of the Year and scored 26 times in 34 Premier League games. A renowned big match player, if Rooney can produce consistently week in week out against lesser teams, not just in performance but goals, then he has all the capabilities to be the first English Golden Boot winner of this century. 

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 7/1

Number 3: LUIS SUAREZ (Liverpool)

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    Liverpool fans cannot stop waxing lyrical about the man who has firmly replaced the void left by Fernando Torres, as the new icon and darling of the Kop. Once you have the pleasure of seeing Luis Suarez in action, you cannot blame them either;  he is already considered by many experts to be one of the major contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award and the Golden Boot. Fresh off firing Uruguay to success at the 2011 Copa America, and being awarded the best player in South America award at the tournament, he is in red hot form.

    Previously playing for Ajax, Suarez struck 81 goals in 110 games, including an astonishing 35 goals in 33 Eredivisie games, and 49 goals in 48 games in all competitions for the 2009-10 season. Signed for Liverpool in what now looks to be a bargain £22.8 Million deal in January 2011, since his arrival Suarez has seamlessly adapted to the Premier League. He produced an outrageous bit of skill and a dazzling man of the match performance to boot, against Manchester United last season. If 'El Pistolero' can continue his sensational form, he will definitely be up there contending for the Golden Boot and could help fire a reinvigorated Liverpool into the top four Champions League qualification spots.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 7/1

Number 2: SERGIO AGUERO (Manchester City)

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    Sergio 'Kun' Aguero is going to take the Premier League by storm and produced one of the most memorable debuts to date with an explosive 28 minute cameo scoring twice, including an audacious strike and assist against Swansea. He can play as an out and out centre forward and behind the main striker where Roberto Mancini has hinted, he may be deployed initially whilst likening his style of play to Brazilian legend Romario. He is of stocky build, possesses unpredictable changes of pace and direction, is tactically astute, technically skilled, and is a very intelligent.  He is a player who has a real cutting edge in everything he does on the football pitch.

    Manchester City has signed him for £38 Million from Atletico Madrid with the hope that he can take them to next level and genuinely complete for the title. he has been brought in to replace want-away striker Carlos Tevez and like his Argentinian teammate will not be intimidated by the rigours or physicality of the Premier League. Do not expect him to take any time to settle, in fact ominously for the rest, it may bring the best out of him as a player, such as his undoubted quality. It was too close to call between him and the eventual number one on our list, who got the nod ahead of 'El Kun' (as this is his first season in England), but do not be surprised if you are looking at the potential PFA Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner this year.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 6/1

Number 1: JAVIER HERNANDEZ (Manchester United)

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    'Chicharito' signed for Manchester United at the start of the 2010-11 season in a £7 Million deal from Chivas Guadalajara, and the fans have really taken to him. In his first season in the English Premier League in 27 appearances, the majority of them as a substitute leading to similarities with another baby faced striker in Old Trafford legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Mexican striker scored 13 goals. At national level, he has an incredible goals per game ratio scoring 21 times in 29 games, becoming the best striker to come out of Mexico since the legendary Real Madrid striker Hugo Sanchez.

    Always playing on the shoulder of defenders, making clever runs in behind, at the 2010 World Cup he was clocked at 19.97 miles (32.15 km) per hour as the quickest player in the world. In front of goal, he is clinical and inevitably manages to hit the target and make the keeper work at the very least. His work rate can never be questioned.  He buzzes around and his attitude towards the game is positively infectious for his team, and supporters alike. This season, Hernandez will undoubtedly be a first team starter alongside Wayne Rooney. I expect him to play a massive role and have a big say in whether or not Manchester United are indeed to fulfill their status, as the favorites to retain the Premier League title.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 11/1

Notable Absentees

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    • Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

    Last year's joint Golden Boot winner along with Dimitar Berbatov, he is pure class but wants to leave City if not now, then most certainly he may do so in the January transfer window. 

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 26/1

    • Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)

    No longer considered first team, Berbatov did not even make the bench for last year's Champions League final. Also in the last year of his contract, his future with the Red Devils looks uncertain.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 34/1

    • Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)

    Has all the talent, skill, ability in spades at his disposal and is a potential world beater. Questions persist however, about his unpredictable temperament and loyalty to the cause at City.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 41/1

    • Gervinho (Arsenal)

    The new addition at Arsenal, this season will be about getting used too his new surroundings a demanding English Premier League.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 41/1

    • Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea)

    No longer a certainty in the first team, and with the arrival of new signin,g Romelu Lakaku is now further down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - 67/1

    • Romelu Lakaku (Chelsea)

    The young Belgian wonder-kid will be eased into the rigours of the Premier League with patience, but will be a frightening prospect for opposing defenders in future.

    bwin Betting Odds (as on 22nd August 2011) - Not listed, available on request