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That tally is largely down to a scintillating streak during the first five months of the season, having entered 2020 on 17 goals and only scoring five since – of which three have come in the past week.
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Breathing down the 33-year-old’s neck is Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on 20 goals, who has not gone more than four successive league games without scoring this season.
The Gabon international reached his own milestone earlier this month when his two goals in a 4-0 win over Norwich crowned him the club’s fastest player to score 50 Premier League goals – overtaking Thierry Henry.
Aubameyang, Salah and Mane each scored 22 goals last season and shared the Golden Boot
Jurgen Klopp rested Sadio Mane for the opening hour against Brighton on Wednesday, who looks to be too far adrift in the race with 16 goals – but Mohamed Salah started and scored twice to extend his season tally to 19.
Meanwhile, no one can rule out Southampton’s Danny Ings, who is enjoying the season of his career with 18 goals to date from an almost injury-free campaign.
Season on season, Sergio Aguero is consistently there or thereabouts but the Argentine is sidelined with a knee injury and travelled to Barcelona for rehabilitation – so he’s out of the running for his second Golden Boot.
Three players are level on 15 goals: Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez – who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Which players have the easier run-in?
It would seem extremely unlikely either Rashford or Martial could overcome their current seven-goal deficit behind Vardy. But United have one game in hand and are in devastating form, looking to go 17 games unbeaten in all competitions against Aston Villa this Thursday live on Sky Sports.
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United also have the league’s easiest run-in, facing bottom-half opponents Villa, Southampton (with Ings), Crystal Palace and West Ham, before a tricky and potentially crucial season finale against Leicester (with Vardy) at the King Power.
Looking at the graphic below, Vardy, Jimenez and Salah will be up against far tougher opposition in the remaining games, while Southampton face teams averaging at their current level.
Those factors, coupled the clubs’ current form and the players’ goal hauls, would suggest it’s, perhaps, advantage Aubameyang.
Who’s in form right now?
The short answer: all the forerunners are in form.
The interactive graphic below reveals the expected goals by matchday for each of the top four candidates, If you click through all of the players, you will see how Aubameyang has remained consistent throughout the campaign.
Opportunities for Ings have declined since the turn of the year, as they have for Vardy until recently, while Salah has been riding waves of chances in front of goal all term.
Vardy’s two-goal lead certainly places him in the driving seat and his latest flourish of form only strengthens his case, but Leicester face tricky opposition after Sunday’s clash with Bournemouth.
But that cushion is almost mitigated by Aubemyang’s consistent form and his upcoming run against easier opposition, and, who knows which Liverpool will turn up in their remaining games after Salah’s double at Brighton came one week after their capitulation against Manchester City.
It appears to be a four-horse race for the Golden Boot and there are reasons to back each of them.
Who are the bookies backing?
Sky Bet back Vardy as the 4/6 favourite, followed by Aubameyang and Salah at 4/1 and Ings at 12/1.
Outsiders include Mane (40/1), Martial, Rashford (both 66/1) and Jimenez (80/1).