Premier League goalscorer race takes shape|
With the Premier League season seemingly set for a thrilling final few months both at the top and bottom of the table, it's no surprise to see the battle to finish as the league's top scorer heading towards an exciting end to the current campaign. While many of the pre-season favourites find themselves in and around the mix, there have been a number of players who have shocked everyone this year and could go on to end the season as the Premier League's Golden Boot winner.
So, which players look to be leading the race to top the goalscoring charts by the time this fascinating season comes to an end?
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
While there is always an element of risk when it comes to big-money signings, Diego Costa's arrival at Chelsea in the summer was greeted by an expectation that the striker would have no problem settling into life in England. And from his goalscoring Premier League debut, it's been fairly obvious that those punters who backed Costa with Betfair at the beginning of the campaign to finish as the division's top scorer were onto something. As well as his obvious finishing talents, one of the most impressive facets of the Brazilian-born Spain international's game has been how easily he has taken to the physical side of the Premier League.
While Costa has found himself coming in for criticism for some of his on-field aggression, his willingness to mix it with defenders has been a key reason behind the fact the striker is set to cruise past the 20-goal mark in the league this season. With Chelsea now leading the race to win this season's Premier League title, Costa's goals could result in him ending his first year in England with a league winner's medal as well as the Golden Boot.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
On the back of a season in which he scored 17 league goals in 23 appearances, Sergio Aguero was always going to be one of the favourites to finish as the Premier League's top goalscorer this year. Despite missing a chunk of the current campaign with injury, Aguero finds himself just behind Costa in the goalscoring charts and in with a great chance of going past the 23 league goals he scored in his first season at the Etihad. Last summer's World Cup might not have seen the best of Aguero, who was far from fully fit, and injury has been an issue for the 26-year-old this season.
The striker's absence from the team during the busy Christmas period played a part in City falling off the pace in this season's title race. His return to action couldn’t come a moment too soon, with Manuel Pellegrini's men now looking to claw back Chelsea at the top of the table. While it isn't as though there is a shortage of strikers at the club, even more so following the arrival of Wilfried Bony from Swansea, it seems as though it will take an incredible run of form from Aguero if City are going to have any chance of retaining their Premier League crown.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
The real surprise of the season has been Tottenham youngster Harry Kane. After a number of relatively uninspiring loan spells lower down the leagues, not many expected Kane to even be a regular in the Spurs first team this season. Heading into the final few months of the season, not only is the striker one of the first names on Mauricio Pochettino's team-sheet, but Kane also finds himself as the joint-leading English goalscorer in the Premier League and with the footballing world at his feet. After spending the early part of the campaign being used mainly in Spurs' Europa League squads, Kane had to wait until November before scoring his first Premier League goal of the season.
Since then, the 21-year-old has gone on a scoring run that has taken a lot of people by surprise, racing to 13 league goals and already well past 20 goals in all competitions this season. As well as reinvigorating Spurs' top-four hopes, Kane has put himself right in contention for an England call-up. If he can continue his recent scoring form between now and the end of the season, then he may have a Golden Boot to go with his England cap. Even if Kane goes on to pass 20 league goals this year and scores a hat-trick on his England debut, there will be those who claim the striker is a one-season wonder. The real question will be whether Kane can repeat this campaign’s exploits next season. For the time being, however, Spurs fans seem fairly certain they have the real deal on their hands.
Charlie Austin (QPR)
It seems odd to be talking about a QPR player being in with a chance to finish as the Premier League's leading goalscorer when the club are facing a huge battle to avoid slipping out of the division. But despite playing in a team who have spent the majority of this year on the end of defeats, Charlie Austin has been a revelation for the West Londoners since his arrival from Burnley. After scoring 17 times as the club secured promotion from the Championship, the 25-year-old has notched 13 league goals this season and almost single-handily given QPR a fighting chance of survival heading into the final few months of the campaign.
At times this year Austin has been the difference between the club losing contact with the rest of those clubs in the relegation zone. QPR fans will know the striker could hold the key to them watching Premier League football again next season. While it would take a sensational run of form in front of goal between now and the end of the season for Austin to claw back the likes of Costa and Aguero at the top of the scoring charts, it's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that the QPR man could achieve it. A striker who has scored at every level he has played at, there has been a growing call over recent months that Austin's form this season should result in an England call-up. One thing is for sure, QPR will know they will need to be playing Premier League football if they are going to have any hope of hanging onto Austin come the summer.
England - Premier League