Can Arsenal mount an assault on the Golden Boot?
At the earliest stage of the season, it’s always fascinating to speculate on the winner of the Premier League Golden Boot as the division’s highest scorer. While there are always a set of likely candidates, a loss of form can be supplemented by external factors such as injuries and suspension to quickly derail a challenge.
In the history of the Premier League, Thierry Henry has won the most awards with four and while Robin Van Persie took the accolade at the end of the 2011-12 campaign, Gunners’ strikers haven’t looked like coming close to accepting the trophy since.
This year however, we have a tangible claim on the title once again but can Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott or even Aaron Ramsey top the scoring charts in 2014-15?
Before a ball had been kicked in this season’s Premier League, Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge was the favourite with Betfair to take the award and his winning goal against Southampton only helped to strengthen that position. Most people forget that while Luis Suarez was taking the Reds to within three points of their first ever Premier League title, Sturridge was contributing with a more than healthy scoring record of his own.
The England international fired in 21 goals in 29 league matches last season and as the lone striker in a new Liverpool formation, he is already looking like the man to beat.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero also got off the mark in his team’s 2-0 win over Newcastle United but there are still concerns over the Argentinian’s fitness. A run of hamstring problems in the previous campaign helped to rule the striker out of the 2013-14 race and those injury concerns threaten to do so again.
Wayne Rooney also scored for Manchester United but needs a run as an out-and-out striker in order to stand a chance while Van Persie is another man whose credentials could be hit by a poor injury record.
The Gunners Claims
Arsenal players may be among the outsiders to take the Golden Boot trophy and the main hope, according to the experts, is Chilean striker Sanchez who scored 19 times in 34 league games for Barcelona last season. Often used as a wide man at the Nou Camp, Sanchez should be given a more advanced role, and more game time under Arsene Wenger and if he can maintain that type of form he will surely challenge the favourites.
Olivier Giroud may have to be more patient in 2014-15 and the fact that the French international was left on the bench for the opening match with Crystal Palace suggests that the manager will use him more sparingly.
Aside from the two strikers, it’s difficult to rule out the claims of Theo Walcott and even Aaron Ramsey in the race to become the Premier League’s leading goal scorer. Before his untimely injury in the FA Cup win over Spurs, Theo had notched five in the league in 13 matches and that’s a healthy ratio that most ‘out and out centre forwards’ would be proud of.
Aaron also suffered with injuries and his final league tally came in at 10 from 23 – a ratio that was marginally better than Theo’s and for a midfielder that’s outstanding. Don’t forget that Yaya Toure was in the Golden Boot hunt for much of 2013-14 and after scoring in the opener against Palace, Ramsey has a chance – providing he stays fit.
So-called experts may point to Sturridge, Aguero and Chelsea’s new signing Diego Costa as the main contenders for this award but if the injury Gods are kind to the Gunners this year, we have four men with a great chance of mounting a sustained challenge.