Harry Kane enters the 2017-2018 season with a chance to accomplish a rare feat, becoming just the second player in the last 22 years to win the Golden Boot three straight seasons. The last to accomplish the feat was Arsenal legend and French National, Thierry Henry, but even the great Henry wasn’t finding the net at the amazing 0.97 rate of Kane’s most recent campaign with Tottenham.
Kane enters the season as the obvious favorite, based both on personal history and Vegas odds, but it won’t be an easy title to defend. Manchester United paid a record sum to acquire the services of the strong Belgian Romelu Lukaku, who finished second to Kane last season despite playing on a non-Top Six squad. He could find his chances increased significantly being featured for Man U and receiving service from Paul Pogba. Kane will also feel some pressure from a dup from Manchester City, a team whose style and talent should offer many scoring opportunities. Both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus check in under 8/1 favorites.
Kane will have pressure from every angle to notch a feat only accomplished twice in the 26 year EPL history. In addition to the Man U addition and Man City dynamite duo, Diego Costa’s nose for the net for the Blues will be a factor, though the arrival of 24-year old Spaniard Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid could change the dynamics a bit at Stamford Bridge – at the very least, it adds an interesting storyline and some doubt into either wager. Another high-profile transfer, Alexandre Lacazette, arriving in Arsenal adds another big-time scorer into the equation.
Unlike the winner of the Player of the Year Award, the Golden Boot has been a little less tethered to team success. While the Player of the Year has come from the league champs eight of the last ten times, the Golden Boot has been a likewise champion just four of the last fourteen years, and not once since Robin van Persie and Manchester in 2012-2013. However, it is unlikely the recipient comes from a poor squad.
Unlike the NFL or NBA, where not only do players on bad teams get stats, sometimes they get even MORE production due to their team’s poor otherwise performance, goals in the EPL are hard-earned and generally the product of quality squads. Here’s a look at last season’s top scorers:
2016-2017 GOLDEN BOOT TABLE
- Harry Kane – Tottenham 29
- Romelu Lukaku – Everton 25
- Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal 24
- Sergio Aguero – Man. City 20
- Diego Costa – Chelsea 20
- Dele Alli – Tottenham 18
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Man. U 17
- Eden Hazard – Chelsea 16
- Joshua King – Bournemouth 16
- Christian Benteke – Palace 15
- Jermain Defoe – Sunderland 15
As you can see, nearly all of the top half of the table came from Champions League, or near Champions League level teams. It makes Lukaku’s 25 goals for Everton even more remarkable, and it also highlights how unlikely this year’s winner is to originate from a bottom half of the table team. As impressive as Defoe and Benteke were last season, they each notched barely HALF of Harry Kane’s 29 goals. Even splitting some glory with Dele Alli failed to mute the Englishman’s stunning tally, and left him with a pretty soft clearance to capture the award.
So, can anyone unseat Kane this season? Here’s a look at the current odds
EPL GOLDEN BOOT ODDS – Courtesy Bovada.lv
- Harry Kane +275
- Romelu Lukaku +400
- Sergio Aguero +550
- Gabriel Jesus +800
- Diego Costa +1000
- Alvaro Morata +1000
- Alexandre Lacazette +1100
- Alexis Sanchez +1200
- Marcus Rashford +2500
- Sadio Mane +2500
- Javier Hernandez +2800
- Oliver Giroud +3300
- Dele Alli +3300
- Eden Hazard +3300
- Jamie Vardy +4000
- Christian Benteke +4000
- Jermaine Defoe +5000
THE FAVORITES: HARRY KANE AND ROMELU LUKAKU
If you are looking for the safest wagers, the top two on the board feel in a class alone. Harry Kane’s credentials are obvious; two straight Golden Boot winning campaigns, and last year’s EPL all-time best 0.97 scoring rate. Tottenham may not finish second in the table again this season, but there isn’t reason to fear a massive precipitous drop-off in performance. The difference might simply be the additions made by competing teams around them while The Spurs chose to remain firm.
The second obvious play is Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku. They didn’t pay a record transfer fee for him to putz around on the outside or put on a dribbling exhibition. They signed the big Belgian for one reason – to put the ball in the back of the net. He did so 25 times for Everton last season and it is hard to imagine him faring WORSE with a much better overall squad surrounding him in 2017-2018. As I highlighted earlier, it is RARE for a player outside a top team to sit so loftily in the Golden Boot standings like Lukaku did the last season. It isn’t rare for the featured goal scorer on a Champions League team – which Lukaku now figures to be – to walk away with the golden boot hardware.
THE RISKY PAIR AT ETIHAD: AGUERO AND JESUS
Until Manchester City and Jose Mourinho figure out exactly what they are going to do with this talented pair, neither Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus has valuable odds enough for my liking. Over the long haul, I like the value of Jesus more; at some point, he will likely become the focal point of the offense and featured most prominently. But when will that point arrive?? Until then, stick with one of the two favorites or look for some longer value.
LONGER ODDS VALUES: LACAZETTE AND MORATA
was the second leading scorer last season for Real Madrid, despite playing with some far more famous and celebrated teammates. Look for him to move past Diego Costa as the featured goal scorer for Chelsea this season in their title defense.
Alexandre Lacazette (+1100)
is my favorite value play on the board. The former Lyon goal scorer was expected to head to Athletico before Arsenal swooped in and landed the talented striker. He is a fabulous goal poacher and a very cool penalty taker. It may take a few weeks to introduce him into the fold at Arsenal, but once he gets established, if he can mirror his Lyon form, the 11/1 odds could quickly shorten.
Anytime we start moving deeper than the 25:1 range, we are looking as much for a fun punt play or a possible hedge opportunity down the road as we are expecting an outright winner. The smart money is on Kane and Lukaku, with Morata and Lacazette also having some real value. But as we get further down the board, there are a few interesting names to consider.
Javier Hernandez (+2800)
The West Ham transfer arrives from Leverkusen with the not-so-easy task of trying to live the Hammers to respectability. In order to do so, they will need Chicharito to pepper the net. The 29-year old Mexican will certainly be one of the more popular players in West Ham in recent memory, but it remains to be seen if he will be enough to keep them in the top half of the table. It’s a long shot for sure, but in his former time in the EPL with Manchester United, he had one of the more prolific goal rates in league history.
Jamie Vardy (+4000)
and the Foxes can recapture some of their 2015-2016 magic perhaps?? If so, Vardy, a volume goal scorer, is a nice sleeper at +4000. Leicester City failed to handle the dual burden of expectations AND Champions League in 2017. Will a year to recoup help revitalize their legs and spirits?
Jermaine Defoe (+5000)
is my favorite longshot on the board. Defoe comes over from Sunderland where he was a top ten Golden Boot finisher a year ago, despite a poor team. His addition in Bournemouth makes the Cherries one of the more intriguing deep sleepers in the 2018 season.