Having led the race for the Golden Boot since week nine, Manchester United striker Robin van Persie was probably thinking he’d done enough to become the first player to win the award for different clubs in consecutive seasons since Gary Lineker in 1986 – but Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and the likes of Chelsea hitman Demba Ba and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale clearly have other ideas.
A freak injury suffered against QPR two weeks ago seems to have slowed Van Persie sufficiently to allow his key challengers to cast doubt on his chances of repeating last season’s top-scoring exploits for Arsenal in his first campaign at Old Trafford.
While the injury didn’t keep him out of United’s game against Norwich on Saturday, the goalscoring glory went to Shinji Kagawa (the first Asian to score a Premier League hat-trick) to leave Van Persie with just one goal in five league games and stuck on 19 for the season, with his odds slipping out to 8/5.
Even worse news for Van Persie came in the shape of the weekend’s other hat-trick, as that went to his main Golden Boot rival – the irrepressible Suarez.
A sensational triple in Liverpool’s 4-0 hammering of Wigan Athletic moved the Uruguayan ahead of Van Persie in the top scorer list on 21 goals, and now sees him installed as 7/10 favourite to claim the crown.
Having seemingly lost his early-season touch with two goals in six at the start of the year, Suarez is now right back in form after firing six in his last three outings in all competitions.
Another factor in Suarez’s favour is that the Golden Boot remains the best chance of a ‘trophy’ for Liverpool this season and upcoming games against struggling Southampton and Aston Villa will surely see Brendan Rodgers seeking to feed his striker’s seemingly insatiable thirst for goals.
The same can’t be said for the next two men in the betting, though Ba and Bale’s success in their personal campaigns could determine which of their respective clubs finish highest in the table.
Both provided crucial strikes this weekend, as Ba got back among the goals with the winner for Chelsea against West Brom, taking him to 15 for the season and 22/1 in the top scorer betting.
With Ba’s main striking rival Fernando Torres being, well, Fernando Torres, and the interim king Rafael Benitez looking to prove the Stamford Bridge hate-mob wrong, the former Newcastle striker will surely have plenty of chances to add to that total.
Meanwhile, the opposition doesn’t seem to be a problem for Bale at the moment.
His opener against Arsenal yesterday helped to keep Tottenham in third place and further cemented his position as the country’s hottest talent, as well as moving him to a 16-goal, 12/1 shot for the Golden Boot.