EPL Golden Boot Odds: Can Anyone Catch Erling Haaland?
The English Premier League's Golden Boot award, given to the league's top goalscorer, is one of the most prestigious awards in soccer.
Last year's winner -- Erling Haaland -- won the Golden Boot in his first season in the EPL. Haaland's 36 goals broke the single-season record of 34 goals, which was set by Andy Cole in 1993-94 and Alan Shearer in 1994-95.
With 12 matchweeks in the book, we are nearly 33% of the way through the 2023-24 season, and Haaland is on pace to win the award for a second consecutive campaign.
With 26 matches left to play for each team, there is still plenty of time for that to change. How have the odds shifted since before the start of the season, and who is most likely to catch Haaland now?
Let's break down the EPL Golden Boot odds at FanDuel Sportsbook and take a look at the current front-runners. Here are the top four by odds:
2023-24 EPL Golden Boot Odds
|1||Erling Haaland||F||Manchester City||-500|
|4||Ollie Watkins||F||Aston Villa||+3500|
Erling Haaland, F, Manchester City (-500)
Three months ago, Haaland's odds of repeating as the Golden Boot winner sat at -140. His odds now sit at -500.
Haaland has started all 12 of City's EPL games this season and has 13 goals to show for it, 3 more goals than Mohamed Salah, who is in second place.
Haaland has essentially picked up right where he left off last season -- averaging more than a goal per match. His expected goal (xG) metrics - per FBRef - support his current pace as his 13 goals have come from 12.7 xG. Haaland's 1.11 xG per 90 is tied for first with Newcastle's Callum Wilson, and he leads the league in total shots (42) and shots on target (22).
Haaland has found the back of the net in 8 of his 12 EPL fixtures and has gone back-to-back games without scoring just once, which coincided with City's only two losses in the league this season.
In addition to Haaland's stellar form, his odds have also improved due to the departure of Harry Kane, who moved from Tottenham to Bayern Munich before the start of the season. Before his transfer, Kane had the second-best odds to win the Golden Boot (+750). Last season, Kane finished six goals behind Haaland's historic 36 goals, and the next-closest player finished 10 goals behind Kane.
With Kane out of the picture and Haaland not showing any signs of slowing down, he is a much larger favorite now than he was back in August.
From a team perspective, City have been slightly less dominant than they were last season. With that said, they still sit on top of the league, rank third in xG (24.4), and are favorites to repeat as champions (-220).
There is still plenty of time for things to change, but Haaland's first third of the season has gone about as well as he could have hoped for as he looks to defend his crown. An injury might be the only thing that could stop him from taking home another Golden Boot.
Mohamed Salah, F, Liverpool (+500)
Entering the season, Salah had the third-best odds of winning the Golden Boot (+1000). Since then, his odds have improved significantly and now sit at +500.
Salah has, of course, also benefited from Kane's departure, but the key to his outlook as Haaland's most likely challenger has been a positive start to the season by Liverpool.
After a dreadfully slow start a year ago, the Reds ended last season in solid form but experienced significant turnover in their midfield during the summer, creating some uncertainty entering this campaign.
So far, so good. Liverpool leads the league in xG (26.5) and sits in second on the table, tied with Arsenal on points and only a single point behind Manchester City. Remarkably, they have scored at least one goal in all 18 of their matches this season across all competitions. They have netted at least three goals in half of their EPL matches.
Salah, a three-time winner of the award, actually finished last season with more xG than Kane but suffered from a lack of efficiency on his chances. So far this season, he has reversed that trend, scoring 10 times from 9.1 xG.
Where Salah lags behind Haaland is in shot numbers. Salah has taken 34 shots this season compared to Haaland's 42 -- but only 12 of Salah's attempts have been target (35.3%), a significantly lower percentage than Haaland's (52.4%).
As a result, Haaland is averaging nearly a full shot on target more per 90 than Salah is this season. Salah's 1.04 shots on target per 90 is his lowest mark since he arrived at Liverpool in 2017. That difference is largely due to where the two stars shoot from -- Salah's average shot distance (17.2) is farther than Haaland's (11.8) and is the highest of his Liverpool career.
Salah has countered that by scoring on 58% of his shots on target, a rate that is significantly above his career average (38%). That rate seems likely to regress, and if it does, Salah will need to generate more shots on target to counteract that and to keep pace with Haaland.
That is a difficult task, but if anyone can do it, it's Salah.
Son Heung-Min, F/MF, Tottenham (+1600)
Son began the season as a longshot to win the second Golden Boot of his career.
Son has always been an extremely efficient forward, routinely smashing his xG totals. Since 2017, not including the current campaign, he has scored 85 goals from 62.3 xG.
With accuracy like this, it's easy to see why:
His issue from a Golden Boot perspective was his opportunity as sharing a pitch with Harry Kane has some drawbacks. Since 2017, Kane averaged 0.57 xG per 90 -- during that time, Son averaged more than 0.40 xG per 90 in only one campaign -- during his Golden-Boot-winning season in 2021-22 (when he averaged 0.48).
With Kane out of the picture, Son is averaging 0.42 xG per 90 this season, the second-highest mark of his career. His efficiency has remained, resulting in 8 goals from 4.6 xG. Son ranks sixth in goals per 90 (0.74) and his clip of +3.4 goals over expected is tied for first in the league. His 1.48 shots on target per 90 ranks eighth, and his goals per shot (26%) and goals per shot on target (50%) metrics are at or near career-high levels.
Son's challenge is his team environment. While Kane leaving opened up some opportunities, Spurs' play this season has limited it. Results-wise, Tottenham is enjoying an excellent start to their season -- they sit in fourth -- but their xG metrics tell a different story.
Their +0.05 xG difference per 90 ranks 10th. They rank ninth on xG (19.2) and 11th on xG allowed. Spurs are generating 0.6 fewer xG per game than Liverpool and 0.4 fewer than Manchester City. The impact of that on the Golden Boot race is drastic -- Haaland (1.1 xG per 90) and Salah (0.78 xG per 90) have a huge opportunity advantage over Son (0.42 xG per 90). Over the course of a season, that adds up and creates an uphill battle.
The good news for Son is that Tottenham are an attack-minded side. They rank third in shots per 90 (16.0) and shots on target per 90 (5.75). There should also be some regression coming on penalty kicks -- Tottenham are one of seven sides to not have a penalty kick attempt this season -- Salah and Haaland have scored three goals apiece from PKs.
For Son to seriously challenge for the Golden Boot, he needs his opportunity to meet his elite efficiency. As it stands, he is in a tier of his own, significantly below Haaland but well above the player with the next-best odds, Ollie Watkins.
Ollie Watkins, F, Aston Villa (+3500)
Watkins' Golden Boot odds have slightly decreased since August when they were +3400, but the competition around him has decreased significantly. In August, Watkins had the 10th-best odds, now he has the fourth-best and has a significant odds advantage over the players behind him.
Watkins is on pace for the best EPL season of his career, both in terms of efficiency and total production. He has six goals from 7.1 xG goals so far this season. His 3.12 shots per 90 and 1.39 shots on target per 90 are both career-best marks, as is his rate of goals per shot on target (38%). Despite underperforming his xG, he is tied for sixth in goals scored this season.
Watkins has been a key part of an Aston Villa side that is enjoying a fantastic start to their campaign. Under Unai Emery, Villa ranks fourth in xG this season (23.5) and seventh in xG allowed (15.9) for an xG difference per 90 of +0.64, which ranks sixth.
Villa ranks sixth in shots per 90 (14.67) and fourth in shots on target per 90 (5.50), shot on target percentage (37.5%), and goals per shot (0.13). So far this season, they have been one of the best teams inside the final third in the EPL.
The problem for Watkins is that, despite this incredible start, he is still already seven goals behind Haaland and ranks lower than the City star in all of the previously mentioned individual metrics. There are levels to this game, and Haaland is simply on another planet.
Watkins' other huge obstacle is the presence of his teammate Douglas Luiz, who takes Villa's penalty kicks. Luiz has converted all three of his PKs so far this season, and he is unlikely to lose that role any time soon. Without those opportunities, Watkins faces an uphill battle to take home the Golden Boot.
He has the best odds of the long shots, but he is a long shot for a reason.
Nicolas Jackson, F, Chelsea (+5000)
Julian Alvarez, F, Manchester City (+6500)
Alexander Isak, F, Newcastle (+6500)
Jarrod Bowen, F/MF, West Ham (+6500)
Callum Wilson, F, Newcastle (+6500)
Eddie Nketiah, F, Arsenal (+6500)
Evan Ferguson, F, Brighton (+8000)
Marcus Rashford, F, Manchester United (+8000)
Bryan Mbeumo, F, Brentford (+8000)
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