The second article of our new mini-series, where I will discuss the odds given out by bookmakers for the Premier League. I already discussed the title odds. And those odds are compiled by the bookmakers by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the title candidate. Those and dozens of other factors are included in their decision to give every team an odd which seems fair and reasonable in their eyes. A huge factor in the title odds are decided by the presence of attacking threats. Especially the striker, the man which the whole team revolves around, the man who needs the converts the chances he is granted by his team-mates. And this article will be about that: the top-scorer of the upcoming Premier League season.
First, it’s interesting to take a look at the average of the ten last Premier League top scorers, which is 25,7 goals (rounded up 26). A number which sounds doable for some of the players we will discuss. Many factors are incredibly important to make a wise decision when placing a bet on your top scorer. The player who first pops into mind was crowned top scorer two seasons in a row and is currently having the lowest odd: Harry Kane.
The 24-year old was labelled ‘a one season wonder’ when scoring 21 goals in 2014-15, with only Agüero (26) above him. The probability of him maintaining his conversion rate seemed nearly impossible according to many, but Kane even managed to score more goals in his second season as Tottenham Hotspur starter. He went on topping the goal charts with his 25 goals in 38 games. Important note: Kane was respectively 21 and 22 years old when managing to score that many goals. The previous campaign saw the Spurs striker being ruled out on several occasions, mainly because of his ankle. This prolonging injury saw him missing eight of the 38 games, but Kane still managed to score the most of anyone (29 goals). Lukaku followed with 25 goals (in 37 matches).
His manager Pochettino has been praised upon the whole world, his team (realistically seen) misses depth in the squad, but he still plays very attacking and fluid like there is no tomorrow. And Spurs deservedly were the runner-up in the previous campaign. The approach of the Argentinean manager helps Kane significantly in his quest for goals. And this season won’t be any different. The English forward isn’t the most sophisticated player around, but he constantly accomplishes the mission he is assigned to: scoring goals. And that’s why Harry Kane is the top favourite for the top scorer title according to the bookmakers: they’ve given him an average odd of 3.93.
He was mentioned before, Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian is deemed the best contender for the title, together after his English colleague at Tottenham. I’ve written about the Belgian tank just a while ago, which you can find here. His job could become tremendously difficult to fulfil as successor of Zlatan Ibrahimović. Latter was extremely comfortable with his role as sole striker, because the Swedish legend also has the technique to make it on his own, something which Lukaku can’t. The recently acquired Nemanja Matic indirectly helps him though. Mourinho always play with a double pivot, which will be Matic and Herrera, meaning Paul Pogba can finally play where he belongs: at the central attacking midfielder. His dynamic movement towards Lukaku can really help the latter, who strives when having enough support when going forward. Pogba could be right next to him in certain situations, as a second striker. I feel sorry for the centre backs who will face them. Romelu Lukaku has been orchestrating his career rather surprising: at age 24, he is already at his fifth professional club. But wherever he went, scoring came as a second nature. Especially his last season with Everton was sublime, scoring 25 goals and coming just short to obtain the top scorer title and this all while his club ended up seventh.
Only their blue neighbours are seen as bigger title contenders, so United has a tough task to complete, but if Mourinho trusts Lukaku and gives him enough support: they will be a true title contender. The Belgian striker has been scoring dozens of goals already, all at clubs which didn’t compete for the title. So I totally understand that Romelu has an odd of 5.00 of becoming top scorer.
The next players both play for Manchester City, I am talking about Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus. Both are from South-American descent with the former being an experienced forward with the latter following in his footsteps. Or even more? The reason I clump both these City strikers together is because of the decision from Pep Guardiola to give Gabriel Jesus a real chance to battle his Argentinean colleague for the striker position. And his manager is currently leaning towards him and it’s up to Agüero make him chance his mind. The 29-year old has scored at least 20 goals in 4 of his 6 season with Manchester City, but those number aren’t bothering Guardiola. What does bug him is the lacklustre attitude and poor work ethnic from Agüero. Qualities which Jesus does possess. I think we will see a season-long battle with two great strikers who will try to surpass each other constantly. A great luxury to have as title contender, but it isn’t for the players. Agüero is already injury-prone and Jesus isn’t good enough (yet) to make +25 goals in one season. I still think Agüero has enough qualities to become the first striker, but he will have to share that spot with Jesus more than he did in previous seasons with other colleague strikers. Because of that, I think both won’t come up on top of the top scorers table. And the bookmakers agree: Agüero gets an odd of 7,06 while Gabriel Jesus gets an odd of 8.93.
The next of the list is Alvaro Morata, the Spaniard from Chelsea. The 24-year old is a true all-round striker who is physically very strong and is footwork is rather quick from someone his size (189cm). Chelsea needed a replacement for Diego Costa, which manager Conte doesn’t want to use anymore. Their eye fell on Lukaku, but the Belgian opted a move to Manchester United. Their second choice was somewhat the same type of player with Morata. The Real Madrid graduate is better on the ball than Lukaku, but doesn’t have a proven goal record. And this will troubling for him and Chelsea. I despise Diego Costa because of his aggressiveness, but his goal tally has been astounding. Especially his last campaign, where he scored twenty goal. It doesn’t sound remarkable, but it is. Antonio Conte plays in a 3-5-2 and mainly focussed on maintaining control and not conceding. And then scoring twenty goals as a striker is an true achievement. When looking at the track record of Morata: I’m not convinced. Since 2013-14, Morata respectively scored 8,8,7 and 15, a total of 38 goals in four seasons. Which isn’t impressive, especially since those season were with Real Madrid and Juventus. Two teams who are head and shoulders above the majority of their domestic opponents. Bookmakers aren’t putting much in his chance of becoming the top scorer with an odd of 10.02.
The last ‘realistic’ player on this list is from French descent and signed with Arsenal, I am talking about Alexandre Lacazette. The 26-year joined this summer from Lyon, a club who he singlehanded carried for several years. His best season was his last, in which he scored 28 times, with only Cavani above him with a whopping 35 (!) goals. While I think highly of Olivier Giroud, he isn’t as all-round like Lacazette. Giroud is very strong on the ball, but misses the finesse and pace which are two facets in which Lacazette excels. I mentioned it in the previous article of this series, but the combination of him, Alexis Sanchéz and Mesüt Özil could be mouth-watering from time to time. All that creativity and Arsenal finally has a complete forward in Lacazette. He will score many, many goals. His problem does lay with some of his teammates, which aren’t ‘title material’ like him. Lacazette has everything which you would want from a striker and it surprises me that other Premier League-sides weren’t as interested in him like Arsenal. Of course, nothing is set in stone when it comes to betting: but I know for sure that he will score at least 20 goals if he remains fit. Bookmakers do have some doubts about his chance with an odd of 11.47. Which I completely disagree with. Of course, Kane & Lukaku should be the biggest favourites. But an proven goal scoring, complete attacker at Arsenal so far removed from them when looking at the odds? Ridiculous.
And that concludes this article regarding the odds of top scorers. To summarize, Harry Kane remains the top favourite with the bookmakers, while Alexandre Lacazette is being a big outsider, in between them are Lukaku, Agüero, Gabriel Jesus and Morata. In my opinion, Lacazette should be a close fourth on this list, together with Agüero. Therefore, my bet will go to Harry Kane, but I’ll most definitely place a “fun bet” on the French Arsenal striker. Next up in this mini-series is the relegation battle.