Premier League Top Goalscorer: Reds' Mane man is each-way value but Jesus is top boy
Joe Dyer takes a good look at the Golden Boot odds ahead of the looming Premier League season and makes three recommendations in the market...
"The 20-year-old Brazilian was acquired only last season so must figure highly in Pep's plans and his performances in between an injury-enforced spell on the sidelines season - seven goals scored in 10 games - underline his ability in the league. I'm confident Jesus is one of Guardiola's first choice attacking talents and he shouldn't lack for chances in a team that scored 80 goals last season."
The golden rule of Golden Boot betting is to remember this stat: it's been 16 years since a player from outside that year's top-four has won the prize (Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for sixth-placed Chelsea in 2000-01). While I wouldn't use that stat to totally discount a player from my betting options it is an ultra-strong trend that helps us narrow down our options.
According to the Betfair Exchange betting, six teams make up the group of likely Top Four candidates. Champions Chelsea, the Manchester clubs, and north London rivals Spurs and Arsenal all trade at evens or below to finish in the Champions League places, while sixth favourites Liverpool are [2.2] to end the season among the leading quartet.
And that means the Golden Boot winner is short odds-on to come from one of the leading clubs.
Most of the big summer transfers have been done now and there are new leading men at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates.
There is a slim chance of a new striker at the Etihad and Anfield, but I'm pretty sure that what is there now is what will be lining up on day one of the new Premier League season.
The betting is dominated by a host of familiar names with a sprinkling of fresh talent. I've taken prices from the Betfair Sportsbook as I think this is a nice market for an each-way play (you'll get a quarter of the odds if your man finishes in the top four).
Here are the Betfair Sportsbook odds as of Tuesday August 1...
As the reigning champ, and the 2015-16 winner to boot, the Spurs man is the rightful favourite. There's very little to excite in his price, however, and at shorter than 4/1 he's only worth backing to win rather than each-way, but it may well pay come the final day.
A perennial nearly man, the Belgian forward came of age last season at Everton and looked to have last year's competition sewn-up only to be pegged back by Kane's incredible late season burst. His 25 goal haul resulted in one of the summer's mega transfers and he starts the season at Manchester United. He'll be the main man at Old Trafford and that should ensure goals, but United were not heavy scorers under Jose Mourinho and that remains a concern.
At first glance the 2014-15 winner is a generous price at 6/1 but is he Pep Guardiola's undoubted first choice? Aguero was in and out of the first team last year and the odd transfer rumour has been heard, though I'd be surprised if he departed. If Aguero starts the season in the first XI he would be worth the investment.
Uncertainty over Guardiola's lineup has pushed Jesus out to his current 9/1, but I'm happy to push the doubts to one side as that looks value. The 20-year-old Brazilian was acquired only last season so must figure highly in Pep's plans and his performances in between an injury-enforced spell on the sidelines season - seven goals scored in 10 games - underline his ability in the league. I'm confident Jesus is one of Guardiola's first choice attacking talents and he shouldn't lack for chances in a team that scored 80 goals last season. Definite each-way value.
The second major striking transfer of the summer, champions Chelsea getting their man from Real Madrid for £60m. Morata scored 15 goals mainly off the bench last season and is of interest as this should be his first chance to cement a first team position. Can a Premier League debutant hit the ground running as fast as his more experienced rivals?
Arsenal's big summer signing has been ultra-prolific in Ligue 1 and arrives in the Premier League on the back of a 28-goal campaign for Lyon. Like Morata the challenge will be adjusting to the division straightaway. May appeal as an each-way play given his likely starting role in a high-scoring team.
Downbeat Gooners think he's off but Sanchez hasn't left yet and would surely appeal as an each-way play at the price if he stays, although it will be interesting to see how he gels with Lacazette. Given those transfer rumours I would hang on for at least a week before backing him if keen on the Arsenal man's chances.
Surely on his way soon, and not to be backed with anyone's money.
Prolific when fit but it's very long odds-against that he will last an entire season without suffering a handful of injuries and niggles.
The first man in the betting after Sturridge is promising Nigerian forward Kelechi Ihenacho, who is odds-on to move from Manchester City to Leicester. He can be backed at 25/1 alongside Michi Batshuayi and Javier Hernandez. It remains to be seen how much game time Batshuayi will get but I don't think that'll be an issue with Hernandez - the Mexican should be Slaven Bilic's no.1 hitman and could place if replicating his Bundesliga form.
Jamie Vardy (28/1) went cold last season but seemed to regain some of the title-winning form under Craig Shakespeare. I'm confident he can beat last year's 13 goal tally and that would probably give him place chances in the market, but Ihenacho's potential arrival confuses matters a touch.
Olivier Giroud (33/1) looks like staying at Arsenal instead of moving to Everton and will therefore surely not get enough game time to score the requisite amount of goals. And even when a regular starter he couldn't beat the 20-goal mark. At the same price I'd far rather take a chance on Sadio Mane who made his return from injury against Hertha Berlin on Saturday night. The Senegalese scored 13 in 27 matches for Liverpool last year and having underlined his importance to the team could well better that ratio this season. At 25 he has fitness on his side, plays for a team that scored 77 goals last season and has genuine top-four credentials. You can make a similar case for Dele Alli, who can be backed at a mighty 50/1, which is huge each-way value. The England man has a deadly partnership with Kane and at just 21 years of age has the potential for considerable improvement. Given he scored 18 goals last season that is quite a scary prospect.