EPL Top 10: Strikers Who Could Win the 2011-12 Golden Boot, Carlos Tevez & More

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2011

EPL Top 10: Strikers Who Could Win the 2011-12 Golden Boot, Carlos Tevez & More

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    One of the most hotly contested battles during the course of an EPL season is that of the Golden Boot - the award given to the most lethal marksman of the country's top division, who notches up more goals than all his rivals.

    Over the course of the 2010-11 season, Carlos Tevez of Manchester City and Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United both racked up 20 goals, though Tevez managed it in one fewer appearance.

    For the coming season, a new glut of strikers will be signed by various teams, while some familiar faces will doubtless be in the frame.

    Here are the ten players most likely to be in the running for the award come next May.

    Did you know?

    • The last time an Englishman won the Golden Boot was in 2000, when Sunderland's Kevin Phillips hit 30 goals to also claim the European Golden Shoe.
    • Thierry Henry won the award four times in five seasons between 2001-02 and 2005-06, totalling 106 goals in the four campaigns.
    • The lowest tally recorded to win the award is 18 goals (Chris Sutton, Michael Owen and Dion Dublin in 1997-98 and Dwight Yorke, Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in 1998-99).
    • Players from eight different nationalities have won the award since it was introduced in 1992-93.

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10: Carlos Tevez, Manchester City

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    What better place to start than one of the current holders?

    Tevez has the ability to score 20-25 goals every season, but Manchester City fans must wait to see if their star striker and captain even begins next season in England, amidst rumours of a move back home to Argentina or to Italy.

    Set pieces, right foot, left foot - Tevez can score all kinds of goals, and with the likes of David Silva and Yaya Toure providing him with ammunition, it is no surprise that he can score so many. He also makes many goals for himself with his tireless running and willingness to press defenders off the ball.

    Verdict:

    Like fellow joint-holder Dimitar Berbatov, we must wait to see if Tevez lights up the Premier League again - but unlike Berbatov, if he does stay he will be as valuable as any player City sign this season and can be one of the top scorers of the division.

9: Peter Odemwingie, West Bromwich Albion

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    Peter Odemwingie's first season in English football was a highly successful one, as he notched 15 Premier League goals in 32 games for the Baggies.

    To challenge right at the top for goalscoring honours, he will have to do even better next time around, but the signs suggest he might be able to do that, especially if he gets a move to one of the clubs supposedly sniffing around after him, including Arsenal.

    Pacey and direct, Odemwingie is not afraid to run at defenders and can shoot with either foot.

    Verdict:

    Unlikely to win it, but another 15 goal season should not be out of the question. Manager Roy Hodgson must find a system to get the best use out of him, and the Nigerian will surely show his class again in English football's top flight.

8: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United

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    Manchester United's biggest force in attack in every sense - Rooney, after a poor start to last season, improved drastically over the final months and finished the season with a respectable 11 goals from 25 games. Certainly nowhere near what he is capable of over an entire season; Rooney's power and pace, allied to good finishing skills, mean he should certainly be looking at or around the 20 goal mark.

    His blossoming partnership with Javier Hernandez means Rooney often drops somewhat deeper, but he is still a great threat for the Red Devils and after a nice summer break, he will expect to be up there with well over 15 league goals next season.

    Verdict:

    Might not quite have the clinical edge that some on the list have, but his ability to get in the right areas and his never-say-die spirit will always eke him out several goals. Also a penalty taker, which helps to push the tally up by the odd few. An outside bet, perhaps.

7: Darren Bent, Aston Villa

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    One dimensional? Predictable? Reliant on pace?

    All accusations levelled at Darren Bent over the years, and not without reason perhaps. But you know what? He's also scored 53 goals in the last three Premiership seasons - Darren Bent knows where the goal is.

    He is very one-footed and is almost exclusively a work-the-channels and sit-on-the-shoulder type of striker, but Villa paid big money for him in January because they knew he would guarantee them goals and with a return of nine in just 16 games after moving from Sunderland, it is clear it was a gamble worth taking.

    Come what may, Bent will net goals.

    Verdict:

    Bent's main problem this year might be service - with Ashley Young gone and Stewart Downing seemingly set to follow, Villa have two real holes to fill from players who as well as being goalscorers themselves were integral parts of the Villa machine, especially in supplying ammunition for the likes of Bent. Is capable of scoring the goals to win, but Villa will have to give him the chances.

6: Fernando Torres, Chelsea

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    One goal in fourteen league games doesn't seem like the best recommendation for a player to feature in a top strikers list, but Fernando Torres will be itching to get back to his best next season.

    56 league goals in just 69 league starts in his first three years at Liverpool proved Torres to be a genuine world class talent, but injuries and fatigue, as well as a seemingly poorly-timed move in January, look to have taken their toll on a striker who once burst with pace and finishing ability.

    With Chelsea now under new leadership, surely the £50 million man will become the focal point of their new-look side?

    Verdict:

    If Torres is the main man up top and has quality players supplying him, he could easily get back to 20 goals or more. If he is not the preferred option for Andre Villas-Boas or if he fails to recapture the burst of speed and wonderful movement that made him such a feared opponent in Red, then Torres could run the risk of being labelled the biggest transfer flop in Premier League history.

5: Radamel Falcao, FC Porto

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    Not currently plying his trade in the EPL but hugely linked with a move to either Chelsea or Manchester City, Falcao scored an incredible 39 goals in 42 games last season for Portuguese outfit FC Porto, with 16 of them coming in the league en route to a title victory.

    Speculation has of course intensified that he will link up again with ex-boss Villas-Boas at Chelsea, though it remains to be seen if they will pay the huge fees being bandied about - approximately £25 million seems the likely starting place for a player who has scored 73 in 85 for Porto in all competitions in two seasons.

    Verdict:

    Nothing concrete yet to suggest he actually will be in the Premiership, but if any side is paying the astronomical fees being claimed, then he will surely be a regular starter and as such will be expected to figure highly in the goalscoring stakes. One worth keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

4: Andy Carroll, Liverpool

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    Injuries meant Andy Carroll was restricted in the number of games he could feature in for Liverpool last season after his January move from Newcastle United, but in the first half of the season, he showed just what he was capable of with 11 goals in 18 starts in his first full Premiership season.

    If he can replicate that form with the Reds over the course of an entire season, then the better quality of players around him could well push him comfortably over the 20 goal barrier.

    A hammer of a left foot and superb in the air, Carroll has all the attributes to be one of the leading forwards in the coming season.

    Verdict:

    If he can stay fit he will be a challenger. Niggling injuries have hopefully been cleared up over the summer break, and Carroll can renew his alliance with fellow new forward Luis Suarez - the magical Uruguayan can score goals himself, but he is seen more as creator in chief in the attack. The goalscoring burden will largely fall on Carroll's broad shoulders, and the young Geordie must respond in kind.

3: Samuel Eto'o, Inter Milan

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    Another striker who currently plays outside of England; Eto'o has been linked with almost half a dozen Premier League clubs already - though it remains to be seen if any can afford the extravagant transfer fee that his current club Inter will charge for their prized possession.

    Chelsea, Arsenal and both Manchester clubs are all supposedly in the hunt for the Cameroon International, and any club who signs him knows they will get goals galore.

    Fast, hard-working and talented with the ball at his feet, Eto'o is a deadly striker inside and outside the box. Also a confident penalty taker and is happy running at defenders with or without the ball.

    Verdict:

    It is anyone's guess if he will end up in the EPL or not, given the huge transfer tag, but if Eto'o comes to England he will find himself amongst the goals, no matter what.

2: Javier Hernandez, Manchester United

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    Predatory striker 'Chicharito' Hernandez won plaudits for the fast way he adapted to the rigours of the Premier League, as he clinched 13 goals from 15 starts and a further 12 substitute appearances.

    Hernandez is capable of finding space in a crowded penalty area and possesses the composure and ability to put away a half chance without fuss.

    Will need to score more of course to challenge for top honours, but after a season of acclimatisation, will undoubtedly start more often next season and will also surely look to score more goals.

    Verdict:

    If he is a first team choice alongside Wayne Rooney, Hernandez could be looking at breaking the 20 league goals mark this coming season.

    A natural finisher and always hungry for more goals - Hernandez seems to be making a habit of scoring at important moments for United, especially late on in games. Will be a frontrunner for the Golden Boot.

1. Robin Van Persie, Arsenal

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    After years of seemingly just missing out on fulfilling his true potential due to a series of injuries, last season saw Robin van Persie show just what he is all about.

    Despite a slow start where the recurring theme was, again, injuries, the second half of 2010-11 saw van Persie explode onto the goalscorers charts as he netted an astonishing 18 goals from 19 starts and six sub appearances.

    His left foot is highly accurate and capable of finishing with finesse or blasting with power - and his right foot is not just for standing on either. From free kicks and penalties, van Persie is also an expert.

    Verdict:

    Another one who needs to stay fit for an entire season but if he does, Robin van Persie is my early tip to win the Golden Boot award. Arsenal will be desperate for a trophy next season, and van Persie will be integral to everything they do well.

    At 27, he should be in his prime right now, and if he can start next season the way he ended this one, then he will be as good a candidate as anyone else.

Honourable Mentions

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    As with Carlos Tevez, it is debatable whether Didier Drogba will start the season wearing Chelsea blue, but if he is a Premier League player again next season, it would be foolish to write him off. Didn't have his best season last term but still a formidable force, and at a different team, he would likely be made the focal point of the attack.

    Juan Mata has been linked with a move to Arsenal or Liverpool in recent days, and though not an out and out striker, can be highly effective in the second-striker role or playing just off of a front man. Don't be surprised to see him clock double figures if any transfer goes through.

    Another potential import is Papiss Cisse, who has just scored 22 goals in 32 games for German club Freiburg. Blackburn Rovers, amongst others, are rumoured to be interested in bringing his goalscoring talents to the Premier League.

    Just two more names to mention - the current joint holder Dimitar Berbatov will surely not repeat his early season form again for Manchester United - if he even plays for them again - after falling out of favour last season and being usurped by Javier Hernandez, but needs a mention anyway just in case, while Emmanuel Adebayor might just come back to upset one or two people after his loan spell in Spain.

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