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The Golden Boot race assessed as Palmer streaks into contention

Before Monday night the Golden Boot race was already set to be one of the tightest and most engaging battles for the award in recent memory – then Cole Palmer ratcheted things up a notch or four. 

The Chelsea forward completely tore apart the defence at Stamford Bridge, scoring a first-half hat-trick to continue his remarkable campaign before grabbing a fourth from the spot for good measure.

That puts the 21-year-old on top of the scoring charts this term with 20 goals, level with a certain Manchester City striker.

Palmer will doubtless have his eye on being there when the season concludes in just over a month’s time, but there are five other players who are within three goals or fewer of him.  Who is going to come out on top when all is said and done?

The Golden Boot race: The contenders to be Premier League top scorer in 2023/24

Cole Palmer – 20 goals

At the beginning of April, Cole Palmer wasn’t even in the conversation for the Golden Boot. Then he went and scored seven goals over three games – all of a sudden it doesn’t seem so ridiculous he could lead that conversation.

The youngster powered the Blues to a dramatic 4-3 home win over Manchester United with a hat-trick earlier this month before his four-star showing against Everton at Stamford Bridge this week. The only other player to score back-to-back hat-tricks for the club in the Premier League was Didier Drogba – not bad company.

Palmer is also just the third Chelsea player to reach 20 or more goals in his debut Premier League season for Chelsea after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (23 goals in 2000-01) and Diego Costa (20 goals in 2014-15).

The winger is out on his own in a couple of ways, though. He’s the first Chelsea player to score a first-half hat-trick in the Premier League, while he’s also the first to score in seven successive Premier League appearances at Stamford Bridge.

Arguably the biggest factor powering Palmer’s bid to be top scorer is penalties. Chelsea have won a lot of them this season, more than any other side (12). He has taken and converted all nine of them, with only Yaya Toure able to boast a better 100 percent conversion rate (11/11).

Palmer faces fierce competition for the Golden Boot, but he does hold the advantage of an extra game over his rivals. We’ll have to see if he makes it count.

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Erling Haaland – 20 goals

Perhaps the primary reason we have a competitive Golden Boot race this season is that Erling Haaland has been merely very good rather than otherworldly.

The Norwegian marksman scored a record-breaking 36 goals in 35 games in 2022/23 in the most stunning debut season the Premier League has ever seen.

This year Haaland has been more wasteful in front of goal, missing a whopping 30 big chances – more than any other player (yes, even Darwin Nunez).

Crucially, the 23-year-old has missed five games through injury, something he avoided last season. And yet he’s still joint-top of the scoring charts on 20 goals – who would back against him streaking further ahead of the pack in the next month?

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Ollie Watkins – 19 goals

It’s been a career-best season for Ollie Watkins, who has dispelled his reputation as a poor finisher by finding the net 19 times in 32 starts for Aston Villa.

The England striker could have had more, missing 19 big chances thus far, but his goals have inspired the Villans to their best campaign in decades as they stand on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League.

His 19 strikes are the joint-most ever in a Premier League season for Villa, matching Christian Benteke’s tally in 2012-13.

Watkins is just one goal off the top two scorers, although Villa face a tricky run-in – including a home encounter with Palmer’s Chelsea at the end of this month – and they have one game fewer than most of their rivals.

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Mo Salah – 17 goals

The three-time Golden Boot winner has endured a frustrating season in front of goal – and yet Mo Salah is still third in the scoring charts with 17 goals.

That is a testament to the high standards the Egyptian has set for himself since arriving to the Premier League with a blast in 2017/18, scoring 156 top-flight goals.

Salah missed a month of action due to the Africa Cup of Nations, which turned into a longer leave of absence thanks to a hamstring injury he picked up while playing in the Ivory Coast.

The winger has scored just twice in five appearances since returning, one of which was a penalty. He’s uncharacteristically missed some gilt-edged chances during this run that could have put him ahead of the pack.

Four of Liverpool‘s final six games are away from Anfield, making his task that little bit harder, while the Reds also have the second leg of their Europa League tie with Atalanta to contend with (although one imagines Salah will be rested for that).

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Dominic Solanke – 17 goals

What a season it has been for Dominic Ayodele Solanke-Mitchell. Before this season the best he could muster in a single top-flight campaign was six, but he has managed to almost triple that number this year.

The striker’s season really started to blossom in December, when he scored six goals in seven games, including his first senior hat-trick. That was enough to earn him the Player of the Month award, the first Bournemouth player to ever win one.

The Cherries have a tricky run-in that takes in games away to Aston Villa, Arsenal and Chelsea, but the Englishman will back himself to find the net a few more times before 2023/24 comes to a close.

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Alexander Isak – 17 goals 

Alexander Isak has missed a fair amount of matches this season, but he’s managed to make the most of the time he has spent on the pitch.

The Sweden international has the best goals per 90 record in the Premier League (0.87), while no one can better his minutes per goal (104). Among those contending for the Golden Boot, he has best conversion rate, putting away 35 percent of his chances.

The 24-year-old has been on a tear lately, scoring seven goals in his last six appearances. Newcastle United face three relegation candidates during the run-in, which could give him the opportunity to fill his boots.

If he can manage to stay fit for the final month, Isak has every chance of being top scorer.

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The Outsiders

There are three players who not necessarily out of the running for the Golden Boot, but would need perform exceptionally well in front of goal to overtake their rivals for the award.

Son Heung-min is on 15 goals, but has been virtually anonymous in the box in recent weeks, blanking in his last three games for Spurs.

Jarrod Bowen, who is also on 15 goals, is enjoying his best season to date, but it would take a monumental effort for the West Ham attacker to score enough goals to finish on top.

Bukayo Saka lags behind on 14 for Arsenal. The winger could go on a goalscoring glut as the Gunners fight for the Premier League title, but it’s probably too big of an ask for him to catch up at this stage. The 22-year-old has scored five penalties this term, but has handed off another four to teammates – his selflessness has probably hurt him in the battle for the Golden Boot.

Who will win the Golden Boot race? Let us know in the comments below!

Read – Premier League team of the week for GW33

See Also – Who will be the Premier League’s next £100m player?

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