Enjoying considerably more game time than in 2017/18, Sergio Aguero's goalscoring ability is being overlooked in the Betfair Exchange Top Goalscorer market, says Alex Keble...
"Aguero, as one of the greatest goalscorers in Premier League history leading the line for arguably the best ever side in English football, is surely worth a bet at 4/1."
There's an incessant desire in football to celebrate something new: our short attention spans are always seeking out the next big player or the next stage in a club's evolution. It's a thirst that has manifested this year in our romanticising of Liverpool's potential to challenge for the title - and the normalisation of Manchester City's brilliance. It's as if we're already bored of Pep Guardiola's project, already craving difference or progress in the stories coming out of the Premier League.
When there's nothing new to say stability can look a little tedious, and in City's casual demolition of their opponents this season it has been difficult to spot any patterns that weren't lovingly discussed in 2017/18. This absence of newsworthy material has dimmed the spotlight on Guardiola's team, which could be very lucrative for those looking for value on Betfair Exchange.
Sergio Aguero has undergone a huge tactical transformation in his two years under Guardiola, at various times looking certain to be usurped but always managing to convince the Catalan of his ability to adapt. Aguero deserves considerably more credit than he gets for his painstaking evolution from a typically selfish centre-forward to one readily recycling possession; after spending the best part of 18 months playing his own private game - head down as team-mates scuttle in an arc around him - the Argentine no longer looks out of place in City's first 11.
This is partly thanks to Guardiola's own adaptation to the unique challenges of English football. Man City are less dogmatic than his Bayern Munich or Barcelona teams were, with a healthy respect for the Premier League's chaos emerging gradually during Guardiola's difficult first season in English football. Aguero, as a seasoned expert in scoring Premier League goals, has taught his manager the value of a poacher's instinct and a burst of selfishness in such a wildly unpredictable division.
Aguero's goal stats
The pair's mutual learning helped Aguero to 21 League goals last season and five goals in eight games so far this year, putting him level with Harry Kane and two behind leader Eden Hazard. It is surprising, then, that Aguero - playing far more regularly than in 2017/18 - is currently [4.8] to be the Premier League Top Goalscorer.
Last season Man City scored a record-breaking 106 league goals, a goals-per-game ratio they have more or less matches this season (2.63 compared with 2.79). What's more, when looking at the corresponding fixtures from the previous campaign, City have exactly matched their output (12 goals from five games, excluding results against newly promoted clubs). That City's excellence is not new has dampened our appreciation of it, and yet Guardiola's team haven not dropped off.
It is entirely logical, then, that their top scorer will also top the overall Premier League chart. Aguero looks to have cemented his place in the starting 11 ahead of Gabriel Jesus - whose progress has stalled alarmingly over the last 12 months - and so Aguero should get plenty more starts this season.
He only started 21 league games last season, compared with all eight so far this time around. That is a crucial statistical difference.
Favourite Kane to drop off
His main rival for the Golden Boot is undoubtedly Harry Kane, the winner in 2016 and 2017 and [3.95] favourite, who has already netted five times in the league this season. However, there is a general consensus that Kane is looking jaded - a situation that will only get worse over Christmas considering neither club nor national coach is prepared to rest him.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker played every minute of England's Nations League matches over the break and, despite pleas from Spurs fans, has played 718 out of a possible 720 league minutes for his club. Furthermore Spurs' inability to sign any players over the summer appears to have taken its toll, as Mauricio Pochettino contends with lower-tempo football, mixed results, and a series of muscular injuries. Burn out, and thus a downturn in goals output, is probable for both Kane and his team-mates.
Other rivals unlikely to challenge
Mohamed Salah's ([9.0]) stuttering start to the season suggests he won't be able to mimic his remarkable 2017/18 campaign, although the Liverpool forward could still reach 20 goals. Eden Hazard ([7.4]), the current leader with seven, is enjoying the form of his life and therefore surely won't continue at the same rate until May.
The only other serious contenders are Romelu Lukaku ([18.0]) - unlikely to score many under Jose Mourinho's tutelage - and Sadio Mane ([27.0]), who has never shown the sort of consistency needed to win the Golden Boot.
However, there is some value in backing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at [16.0] with Betfair Exchange, given Arsenal's free-scoring start to life under Unai Emery. The Gabonese striker is enjoying linking with Alexandre Lacazette, ghosting unseen from the left flank into space in the penalty area. Aubameyang has scored 14 goals in 21 league matches as an Arsenal player, reflecting a stability that could see him challenge the likes of Kane and Aguero.
But Arsenal won't create anywhere near as many chances as Man City and they won't dominate the division - or put tap-ins on a plate for their forward. Aguero, as one of the greatest goalscorers in Premier League history leading the line for arguably the best ever side in English football, is surely worth a bet at 4/1.