Could this Man United starlet upset Man City come the end of the season?

It feels like I’ve stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. There’s water on Mars, Sir Alex is going to manage David Beckham again, and Sergio Aguero hasn’t scored in open play for a month and a half. That’s usually as probable as Manchester going the same period without rain.

It’s a normality that when the Argentine is playing he’s scoring. With him failing to find the net can someone steal his Golden Boot?

Before last weekend Aguero had a little bit of breathing space in the race for top scorer. His expected rivals for the accolades had all been suffering droughts of their own. This ended when Sanchez bagged a hat-trick for Arsenal, Kane scored against Manchester City and Rooney put fifteen hours of goalless Premier League matches behind him.

The belief Sergio just needed a goal – any goal – to get his confidence back was dismissed when he scored a spot-kick against Sunderland in the League Cup but still appeared far from his best. The trend continued this week in the Champions League. Again, the history books will record a penalty scored, but they won’t reflect an evening of frustration for City’s star striker.

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Never before in his time for the Manchester club has he looked so painfully out of sorts. There has to be questions surrounding his fitness and with each passing week the wayward efforts are driving his mental wellbeing down. Normally if Aguero shoots you expect a goal, recently attempts are met with an inward breath as you wait to see how close the miss was.

This is great news for rival strikers.

The question then becomes: who is most likely to emerge as the leading scorer this year? The usual candidates have to be considered. First up we have Harry Kane. He was last year’s runner-up for the Golden Boot with an impressive 21 goals, including a hat-trick against Leicester. What makes his tally all the more eye-catching is he only played one more game than Aguero in a side less able to provide chances.

In music terms, this season could be the difficult second album. What came so easy last year is arduous at present. But if he finds his form in the next five games he has to be considered a good bet.

Wayne Rooney was another of the men to end his drought. Unlike the other’s that will be mentioned here, he can’t be seen as a threat. Last year he bagged 12 goals and there’s little to suggest he is going to suddenly become prolific. In his defence, he hasn’t been utilised as an out-and-out striker, and while there was hope this could be the season he features heavily leading the front line again, the performances of Anthony Martial have put the idea to bed. More on the Frenchman in a minute.

Sanchez was the third player to end a goalless streak. He has a solid chance of being around the prize if we have a relatively low scoring season for strikers. He bagged 16 goals in the league last year, and while it could be argued now he’s fully acclimatised he can push on, asking for more than 20 could be fanciful. From within his team it seems Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott will split the goals between them.

The elephant in the room so far is last year’s third place man for the Golden Boot. That player everyone loves, the type of character first on the list for any party, Diego Costa.

He played 459 minutes less than Sergio Aguero last season and was only 6 goals behind the prize. So while he would have needed a goal every 76 minutes to catch the City player he was almost his equal, this in his first stab at the Premier League. He may only have a single goal to his name at the moment but Chelsea’s poor start to the season will end soon. When it does expect the goals to flow with Costa netting the majority.

Droughts aside, we are left with outsiders and a rookie. Southampton’s Pelle has started the season with four but anyone that had him in their Fantasy Team last year will recall his ability to fire blanks when least expected. Everton’s Lukaku is also on a quartet and the only man in the current top ten to have scored from outside the area. If Everton sustain a push, and the bigger names continue to be indifferent, he will finish in the top five scorers with one eye on the prize, he’s not been that close since 2013.

At the danger of sounding dismissive, I can’t see players such as Jamie Vardy or Callum Wilson continuing their chart leading ways for an entire season. This is no slight on them but their respective clubs will have difficult days ahead over the remainder of the season which will impact on chances. Three others, Gomis, Benteke and Sturridge, I expect to easily finish in the top ten but their sides will lack a run of form that enables a higher goals return.

The unknown quantity is Anthony Martial. He has three from three. The stats aren’t as impressive as the visual demonstration. The comparisons to Theirry Henry were premature. Now they have more weight behind them. Against Liverpool he scored a goal that mirrors one Henry scored against the same club in Arsenal’s Invincibles season.

If United do form a solid challenge this year, and excellent service is provided by players like Rooney and Mata, there’s no evidence to suggest Martial can’t steal Kun’s Golden Boot.

 


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