A bizarre injury to Robin van Persie looks set to provide an opportunity for the likes of Liverpool hitman Luis Suarez and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale to close on the Dutchman in the race to win the Golden Boot this weekend.
Having briefly moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, Manchester United fans should have been celebrating on Saturday night, but instead, their concerns rested with their top scorer.
After helping set up Rafael’s incredible opening goal against QPR, Van Persie suffered an innocuous-looking accident when he slid into a pitchside camera pit.
Yet after soldiering on for another 15 minutes, the former Arsenal skipper was taken off before he further injured his apparently heavily-bruised hip.
It left last year’s Golden Boot winner stuck on 19 goals and potentially puts a small dent in his seemingly inevitable effort to defend that crown in his first season at United.
With the big Champions League return game against Real Madrid just a week away, Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to risk rushing RVP back for this weekend’s clash with Norwich City, giving the other top scorer contenders a rare chance to get closer to the 3/4 favourite.
Of those other contenders, Suarez is best placed at 2/1, despite being unable to add to his 18 goals this weekend as Brendan Rodgers’ side were inactive.
Their game against Swansea City was moved forward to the previous weekend to accommodate the Welsh team’s victorious Capital One Cup final triumph over Bradford City.
With Michael Laudrup resting several key players ahead of their Wembley date, Suarez took advantage to strike once more in a thumping 5-0 triumph for the Reds which left the Uruguayan three goals clear of his absent rival on that day, Michu.
The season’s surprise package bagged another in the 5-0 drubbing of Bradford that didn’t count towards his Golden Boot chances, though it kept up the incredible momentum which sees him as an 18/1 shot to take another surprise trophy back to South Wales.
But if Michu’s momentum is impressive, then it’s got nothing on Bale’s incredible recent run, which he extended by firing Spurs to victory over West Ham on Monday night.
The last game of the Premier League weekend saw the man many believe is the third-best player on the planet at the moment add another two to his tally, making it 15 league strikes for the season.
And with Van Persie’s injury leaving the door ever so slightly ajar, Bale looks best-placed of all to bolt right through it as his odds continue to tumble from when I first tipped him at 66/1 three weeks ago to his current, still inviting, price of 14/1.
Bale now has eight goals in his last six games and if he can continue his hot streak in Sunday’s huge north London derby with Arsenal at White Hart Lane, that quote will surely plunge further still.