Who Are the Preseason Favorites to Win the Premier League's Golden Boot?
With the season fast approaching, there is much excitement to see who the top performers in the Premier League will be this season.
There are many established goalscorers already in the EPL, but will any newcomers or young challengers be able to take the league by storm and win the Golden Boot, which is given each season to the league's top scorer?
Let's take a look at the top contenders along with their corresponding odds, per the oddsmakers at bet365, as well as one darkhorse pick who could deliver at longer odds.
Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur
Kane is the two-time defending Golden Boot winner, and he is the deserved favorite to once again be the premier goalscorer in England's top division. Kane easily won the Golden Boot a year ago, totaling 29 goals in only 30 matches and finishing 4 goals ahead of Romelu Lukaku, who played in 7 additional matches.
Kane also scored 25 goals en route to his Golden Boot in the 2015-16 season, and he totaled a not-too-shabby 21 goals in 28 starts in the 2014-15 campaign.
Kane has proven himself as a reliable goalscorer the past three years, and at only 24-years-old, there is no reason to expect him to slow down anytime soon.
Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United
Lukaku currently has the second best Golden Boot odds, which makes sense, since he scored the second-most goals in the Prem last season, and he has moved to a Manchester United team that should be able to get him better service.
Lukaku will presumably be playing in the same role as Zlatan Ibrahimovic did last season, when Zlatan scored 17 goals in 27 games (0.63 goals per game). This is a strong season but not likely a strong enough pace to win the Golden Boot, so Lukaku will probably have to outperform Zlatan's production from last season -- no small task -- to win the award.
One roadblock for Lukaku in his quest to win this award could be that manager Jose Mourinho has a deep squad with other striking options (such as rising star Marcus Rashford), so Mourinho will have the option to bench or rest Lukaku due to a scoring drought or fixture congestion.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Aguero, who won the award during the 2014-15 campaign, is always a strong contender for the Golden Boot. He has bagged a total of 70 league goals in 94 games over the past three years -- an outstanding rate of 0.74 goals per game.
However, he has been on a slight downtrend over the past few years, scoring 26, 24 and 20 goals, respectively, over the last three seasons.
Oh, and he'll likely have to share the limelight up front with this next guy, making Aguero a longer shot than usual to take home the honor.
Gabriel Jesus, Manchester City
The Brazilian attacker took the EPL by storm last year, scoring seven goals (with four assists) in 10 league appearances. The 20-year-old will now be looking to show what he can do in a full season of action.
Jesus has also thrived on the international level, scoring five goals (all of which came in World Cup Qualifying) in seven appearances for his native Brazil. It seems that Jesus is a star in the making, but he is still a relatively inexperienced player who does not have a long history of playing against the top competition in the world.
He could also by the fact he'll be playing with Aguero, one of the premier goalscorers in recent EPL history. Time will tell how the two will be deployed, but unless one is moved to a bench role, Aguero and Jesus will likely hurt each other's chances of capturing the Golden Boot.
Javier Hernandez, West Ham
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is listed as a longshot to win the Golden Boot this season at 40/1, but he could be worth the gamble.
Chicharito has been a prolific goalscorer throughout his entire career, and he will probably be asked to carry most of the scoring burden for West Ham this season, a role will likely relish. Hernandez netted 28 goals in 54 league games (45 starts) for Bayer Leverkusen over the past two seasons, and he is already the all-time leading goalscorer for the Mexican National Team, despite being only 29-years-old with many years of play ahead of him.
On the flip side, Chicharito will also be playing for a West Ham side that could be forced to be more defensive at times against top competition, which could slow down his scoring rate.
He's certainly not one of the favorite to win the Golden Boot, but he probably has a better chance than the odds indicate.