Outright Football Markets: Playing the Long Game? – Part 4 – Top Goalscorer Market

In the previous three parts, I have looked at the outright markets for the top four divisions in the English league, and several of the major European leagues. In what is the final article in the outright market series, I look at the top goalscorer markets. Eddie used to work for William Hill (I’ll give you his address later so you can throw eggs at his house) and says that the bookmaker was constantly scanning this particular market for liabilities.

In other words, it is a market that has the potential to move quickly, despite being a long-term one. As a result, it is possible to place several bets, watch the odds shorten, trade out, and try again! Get it right, and you could profit quite handsomely.

Premier League

Bear in mind that the top goalscorer market also offers ‘place’ odds like in horse racing. For example, Bet365 offers ¼ odds for each-way backers who win if their chosen player is in the top 4 goalscorers. For instance, £10ew on Rashford at 11.00 means you have £10 on him winning the golden boot at 11.00 and another £10 on him being in the top 4 at odds of 3.50. 

Harry Kane is the clear favourite at 4.33 and must be considered if he stays fit all season. Even in an injury-hit season, the Tottenham talisman managed 17 league goals in 28 games. Before last season, Kane scored 21+ in four consecutive seasons and hit two on the opening day this season. Kane is usually a slow starter, so if he is on form and scoring freely early in the season, he will certainly be in the frame. 

Realistically, the winner of the Premier League golden boot will need to hit 25+ league goals because that has been the minimum standard in eight of the last ten seasons. Last season’s winning tally of 22 goals was the lowest since the 2010/11 season. The implementation of VAR means more penalties are likely, which bodes well for the likes of Kane, Aguero, Salah, and Aubameyang.

It is no surprise to see all of these players in the top five in the betting market. Aguero is a consistent striker who has hit 20+ league goals in six of the last eight seasons; including the last five in a row. He also plays in the league’s most dominant team. However, he probably won’t play as many minutes as others on the list which counts against him. He has only hit more than 25 league goals once so may fall just short.

Raheem Sterling is not a natural finisher but gets in so many good positions that he is very likely to get 20+ playing for Man City. An opening day hat-trick has seen his odds tumble to 7.00. Mo Salah won the golden boot in his first season and shared it in his second. The Egyptian King won’t be far away with a full season.

Arsenal’s defence leaves a lot to be desired, but the Gunners like to attack, and in Aubameyang, they have a prolific striker. 33 league goals in 50 games prove that he has adapted to English football after hitting 69 in his last 79 games for Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.

Perhaps the standout option from a price perspective is Sadio Mane. The Senegalese forward seems to be improving and was joint top goalscorer last season. Injury permitting, there is no reason why he can’t get 20+ league goals or thereabouts. He will be selected for the European Champions if fit, and odds of 26.00 seem far too long for someone of his ability playing in such a strong side. 

Gabriel Jesus is perhaps another each-way value bet at 34.00. The Man City forward will have plenty of chances to fill his boots this season. He hasn’t been prolific in his career to date but has managed seven in 10 games for Brazil in 2019. Maybe 2019/20 will be his breakout season?

English Football Leagues

The Championship 

The Championship is a 46-match slog, and the top goalscorer usually nets at least 25 times. It pays to focus on sides likely to be in the Top Six; Four of the last five golden boot winners played for a team that made the playoffs at least. Mitrovic scored 12 in 18 for Fulham in 2017/18 and is a worthy favourite. While his attitude is occasionally called into question, Mitrovic is unquestionably a talented player capable of scoring 30 goals in the Championship.

The winner of the Championship Golden Boot is seldom a household name, nor does he often become one. The likes of Darryl Murphy, Teemu Pukki, and Chris Wood have all won it in recent seasons. Therefore, perhaps it will pay to go leftfield when finding possible winners?

Pablo Hernandez of Leeds United scored 12 league goals last season and has netted two in two this season at the time of writing. It would certainly represent an Indian Summer for the 34-year old, but he wouldn’t be the first to suddenly find his shooting boots in the second tier. 

Charlie Austin may tempt some at odds of 13.00 given his stellar record in the Championship, plus the fact he plays for a West Brom side fancied to be there at the business end of the season. In a market with lots of high prices, the likes of Jarrod Bowen (26.00), Said Benrahma (41.00), and Lewis Grabban (21.00) will all attract their fair share of supporters.

League 1 

Predicting the League 1 top scorer is about as tough as choosing promotion candidates! The odds bear out this assertion with no clear favourite. The market resembles that of the Aintree Grand National with three co-favourites at odds of 11.00! 25 league goals were enough to win the Golden Boot last season, and at first glance, it isn’t easy to analyse players capable of coming close to that mark this season. 

Will Grigg had scored 64 goals in three League 1 seasons before joining Sunderland but has been a major disappointment so far. 

Brett Pitman has potential at 34.00 but would need to replicate his 2017/18 form where he hit 24 in 38 games for Portsmouth. If Pompey challenge for promotion, it is likely that Pitman’s goals will get them there, although his teammate John Marquis netted 21 goals in League 1 last season for Doncaster Rovers.

Ched Evans is a controversial character, to say the least, but could be value at 21.00. In 2011/12, he scored 29 League One goals. After returning to football in 2016, he struggled at first but found his feet last season with 17 goals for Fleetwood in League One. 

John Akinde has been a reliable goalscorer in the Conference and League Two. He returns to League 1 with Lincoln City. Lincoln is one of the favourites for promotion, so Akinde could represent each-way value at 26.00 if he can make the step up. Mohamed Eisa of Peterborough could also be worth a look at 15.00. He scored 23 goals in League Two in 2017/18 and could make the most of his chance with the Posh. 

Finally, Kieran Agard of MK Dons hit 20 goals last season in League 2. His record is patchy, but he did score 21 goals in League One in 2013/14. Perhaps he is worth an each-way look at 26.00.

League 2

League 2 is just as difficult to predict with probably a dozen or more potential candidates. The leaders of the odds market all have claims. Adam Rooney scored 21 in the National League and is one of the promotion-chasing side’s main men; odds of 11.00 are probably fair for a player capable of hitting 20+. The likes of Andy Cook, Nicky Maynard, James Vaughan, and Clayton Donaldson all play for teams that will probably be close to promotion. 

If you’re looking for a longer odds shout, it may be worth taking an each-way chance on Mathew Stevens at 41.00. Forest Green could be in for a good season, and if this is the case, Stevens could be the man to fire them to glory. He is inexperienced at this level, but at the age of 21, he could prove a shrewd buy for Rovers. Stevens noticed 25 goals for Kettering Town in the Southern Premier in 2017/18 and managed 6 in 9 in the National League South last season. 

What About European Leagues?

Over in Italy’s Serie A, it is not a surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo as the clear favourite at 2.62. With 21 league goals, he was near the top of the rankings last season in what must go down as an ‘off’ season for him. At the age of 34 however, he is likely past his peak and could be rested in several league games.

Krzysztof Piatek notched 22 league goals for Milan and Genoa and is a worthy bet at odds of 6.00. If you believe that last season’s Serie a Golden Boot winner, Fabio Quagliarella of Sampdoria, who managed 26 goals, can repeat the feat, he is available at odds of 13.00. As he also scored 19 in the previous season, he is surely worth an each-way bet?

In France, PSG’s Mbappe-Lottin is a red-hot favourite at 1.40 and will probably hit 30+ goals in the league if he stays fit (he scored 33 in 29 last season!). Teammate Edinson Cavani is next at 6.00 and is the only realistic alternative. I recommend trying to find European Golden Boot awards and checking out Mbappe’s odds. 

In Spain, it is a question of determining who can stop the Lionel Messi show. The little genius is 1.72 to be the top scorer in La Liga yet again. He scored 36 league goals last season and has hit 30+ in eight of the last ten seasons. New teammate Griezmann is 6.00 to usurp Messi, but surely only injury can prevent the wizard from winning again? 

As far as each-way markets go, Benzema of Real Madrid scored 21 last season so odds of 17.00 are fine if you can get a place market of top 4 scorers. The same goes for Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid at odds of 34.00 if he can avoid getting suspended. 

Robert Lewandowski is the clear 1.66 favourite in Germany with Timo Werner next at odds of 10.00. With ‘only’ 22 goals last season in the Bundesliga, perhaps the great Polish striker is vulnerable to challengers. Werner scored 16 last term and is likely to put in a bold bid. 

Paco Alcacer scored 18 last season and is another worth mentioning at odds of 11.00; especially as Borussia Dortmund are the most likely contenders to Bayern’s crown. Kai Havertz of Bayer Leverkusen is a very talented prospect with 17 goals last season. He is certainly worth considering for an each-way bet at odds of 34.00. 

Final Thoughts on Top Goalscorers

The thing about the top goalscorer market is that it can change so quickly. A sudden burst of form can send a player up the rankings in a matter of a few games. Likewise, a player can look nailed on for the Golden Boot, only to suffer a bad run of form or worse still, sustain an injury.

In leagues where there is a clear favourite, it is always wise to seek each-way value. Analyse the player’s team to see if they play attacking football or are likely to be a dominant side. It could even be worth studying the fixture list to see if the player has a run of ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ opponents to come. 

Finally, there are players known for being ‘streaky’ goalscorers. These guys can go on long, barren runs and suddenly, everything clicks into gear. Before you know it, they have scored 8 goals in 6 games! You may recall that Harry Kane famously failed to score in August for several seasons. With this knowledge, you could have waited a few weeks for his odds to drift before backing him. Alas, Kane has already started well this season! 

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