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Analysis: Don’t back a Brit to land the Premier League Golden Boot

by Aidan Elder | August 17, 2012

By Aidan Elder | Chief Sports Writer

It’s one of the most appealing of all Premier League betting markets. If realism ultimately kicks into play when thinking about your team’s chances of actually winning the league, the Top Goalscorer betting allows your mind to run wild and free to the most optimistic parts of your footballing fantasies.

Sometimes it only takes 20 goals to be top scorer and maybe this’ll be the season Kenwyne Jones finally announces himself as a world-class striker. Maybe Theo Walcott is like a coiled spring, ready to unleash his goalscoring fury on a league that chuckled heartily at his often less than clinical finishing in the past. It could happen, you never know.

There are a number of outlandish scenarios we can imagine to suit our vague theories, but the Paddy Power Blog has looked at the stats and come up with some rules that might inform your betting decision.

ALL ON HIS OWEN – Liverpool rarely challenged for the league during Owen’s peak goalscoring years (pic: Inpho)

The logic for thinking this is sound. Teams that win a lot must score a reasonable amount of goals and someone has to score those goals. In practice, it’s more questionable than a Djibril Cisse haircut.

Only eight times in the last twenty years has the Premier League’s Top Goalscorer been playing for the league champions that season. That’s 40 per cent of the time, which – like a Leon Knight tweet about Danielle Lloyd – is shockingly low. In fact, the average league position of the team the Top Goalscorer has played for is three and half-th – not quite third, not quite fourth. A lot of the time, the player will be in a team realistically going for a Champions League place rather than the title itself. And sometimes not even that.

In 1998, Dion Dublin got a share of the Golden Boot playing for a Coventry side that finished 11th. In fairness, that counts as a good season for the Sky Blues. In the very first season of the Premier League cash cow coming into our lives, Teddy Sheringham scored the most goals despite playing for Nottingham Forest and Tottenham – teams who finished dead last and 8th respectively. Michael Owen, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Chris Sutton, Alan Shearer, Kevin Phillips, Thierry Henry (in 2006), Carlos Tevez and Robin van Persie have all been Top Goalscorer in teams with little genuine chance of winning the league. Clearly, it can be done.

So the good news if you’re thinking of backing Luis Suarez at 16/1 is a Liverpool title push isn’t essential to be Top Goalscorer. The bad news is avoiding any more ‘cultural misunderstandings’ and eight game bans probably is.

KEVIN SENT – Phillips in 99/00 was the last Englishman to claim the Premier League’s Golden Boot (pic: Inpho)

The 90s were great. East 17 were singing about the House of Love, Michael Barrymore was a wholesome family entertainer and English football actually featured quite a few English players. In the first eight seasons of the Premier League English players finished Top Goalscorer (or joint Top Goalscorer) 100 per cent of the time. The only time that was even remotely challenged was in the 1998/99 season when the practically English anyway, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink finished level with Michael Owen and Chris Sutton.

When Kevin Phillips topped the goalscoring charts in 2000, who thought he would be the last English Premier League Top Goalscorer for 12 years and counting? Certainly fewer people than thought he’d still be playing professionally over a decade later. Since the start of the naughties, it’s been Nick Griffin’s nightmare with foreigners claiming Premier League Top Goalscorer honours in every single season. If it helps, they’ve been exceptional foreigners. Thierry Henry (4 times), Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie are among the names that have been the top flight’s sharpshooter since and they were all pretty useful.

For the season ahead, Wayne Rooney at 8/1 is rated as the best of hope of bringing an end to that vaguely depressing run. There’s no doubt he’ll score goals, but with Sir Alex Ferguson already talking about Wazza playing a withdrawn role behind shiny new toy, Robin van Persie will he get enough to claw his way to the top of the charts?

Darren Bent is next best at 25/1, but unless Villa improve dramatically or the FA adopt a controversial rule that means they must be awarded at least two penalties per game, his team-mates are unlikely to create enough opportunities to put him on top of the goalscoring charts.

Andy Carroll is also an option, but Brendan Rodgers placing a ‘One striker for sale. Much maligned. Nice hair’ ad in the classifieds, it’s hard to know how much game time he’ll see. Jermaine Defoe always seems like a decent option at the start of the season, but in reality unless he scores 18 goals in each of the two three games spells of form he has each season, he’ll be way off the mark.

You might be drunk on leftover patriotism and Emile Sande songs after the Olympics, but backing a foreigner is the way to go.

SHEAR ATTACK – Shearer played for an offensive-minded Newcastle team, but it’s not essential (pic: Inpho)

Alan Shearer smashed in the goals for Newcastle teams who thought ‘defending’ was a campaign to end hearing loss. A team that likes to play football and creates chances sticks in the mind as being an important part of selecting an option in the Premier League Top Goalscorer betting, but it’s not necessarily the case.

To expand, a team playing nice football helps, but they don’t need to be playing a supernaturally good brand of football to create enough chances for a player to become Top Goalscorer. Over the 20 years of the Premier League, all the players who topped the goalscoring charts have played for teams that have cumulatively averaged 1.85 goals a game. That’s a reasonably high average, but only translates into a figure of 70 goals from a team over the course of a season, which isn’t spectacular goalscoring. Plus that average received a boost from seasons when Chelsea and Arsenal ran amok.

In practice, players that play for more conservative teams can get among the top of the scoring charts.
Dion Dublin played for a Coventry team that squeaked just over a goal a game, whilst Didier Drogba was the league’s top scorer in a Chelsea team managed by Jose ‘defensive solidity’ Mourinho. Chris Sutton (Blackburn 1998) and Carlos Tevez (Manchester City 2010-11) also got Golden Boot honours playing for teams that didn’t ever look likely to threaten the goalscoring record books.

If there is someone you fancy to do well who doesn’t play at the most attacking of clubs, then the message is ‘give it a go’. It has happened before and you never know, it could be a delicious and profitable case of history repeating. It’s worth a shot. Unless that player plays for Stoke.

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