At the end of 2016 we will have reached the halfway point in the Premier League season and plenty has already been written about how much can be predicted about the final table at this point.
Less attention, though, has been paid to the individual player awards: the Golden Boot for top goalscorer and the Golden Glove for the goalkeeper who keeps the most clean sheets.
The graphic below breaks down how the standings for each award are influenced by the first half of the season and also just how consistent players have to be to end the campaign with an individual gong:
Start as you mean to go on
While the race for the Golden Boot is more of a marathon than a sprint, getting off to a good start tends to be decisive. In eight of the last 10 Premier League seasons, the player who has topped the goalscoring charts at the end of December has gone on to finish the campaign in top spot.
Harry Kane managed it last season after a slow start in which he did not get off the mark until his seventh Premier League appearance – he was fifth in the standings on New Year’s Eve – but the only other player to do so in the last decade was Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, who started 2011 two goals behind United’s Dimitar Berbatov but ended up matching the Bulgarian’s tally despite playing one game fewer.
Even Kane and Tevez had both reached double figures by the end of the calendar year, a feat matched by every Golden Boot winner in history bar two. In the inaugural Premier League season, Teddy Sheringham only had six goals at the beginning of January but rattled in another 16 to top the final chart, while Ruud van Nistelrooy racked up another 17 to add to the eight he’d managed during the first half of the 2002/03 campaign.
Aguero ban costly?
Based on the stats above, it is relatively safe to assume that – barring a heroic second half of the season – the 2016/17 Golden Boot will probably be won by someone who is already into double figures and near the top of the current charts, which will be good news for Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez.
While Sergio Aguero is also into double figures already, his four-match ban could leave him significantly off the pace by January. However the occasional drought is to be expected and only one of the last 16 Golden Boot winners – Didier Drogba back in 2009/10 – did not endure a barren run of at least four matches along the way.
Second half key for keepers
But what of the men charged with thwarting the efforts of the goalscorers vying for that prize? To win the Premier League Golden Glove a good start is also important, but less so.
Only one custodian has ever claimed it with fewer than seven clean sheets in the first half of the season – Petr Cech began 2014 with just six but added another 10 thereafter – and in recent seasons the winner has tended to emulate the Czech legend’s strong finish to a campaign.
Four of the last five winners – the exception being Cech himself last season – have ended December with fewer clean sheets than the leading shot-stopper but kept more than anyone else from January onwards.
While Thibaut Courtois – Cech’s replacement at Chelsea – has already reached the benchmark of seven clean sheets, he should therefore be looking over his shoulder at the likes of Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris and Fraser Forster of Southampton as the season continues.
While there will surely be plenty of thrills and spills to come for the division’s top goalkeepers, a poor run of form is even easier to recover from than it is for a striker. Cech – again last season – is the only one of the last five winners not to suffer at least a six-game sequence without keeping a clean sheet, and even he managed only one in seven at one stage.
Note: For seasons in which the official award was shared, the player to have achieved their total over the fewest appearances has been treated as the winner.