Aug 24, 2023
Aug 24, 2023

Analysing the trends of the Premier League Golden Boot race

The recent history of the Golden Boot

Does starting slowly affect Golden Boot chances?

Using statistics to identify trends

Analysing the trends of the Premier League Golden Boot race

The Premier League Golden Boot is a very popular betting market. While it’s often the same names who are in the running to score the most goals each season, are there any trends that can help bettors identify where the value in the market lies? Data is readily available on which games players score in, and there are also underlying statistics that can help bettors make more informed decisions.

The recent history of the Golden Boot

By scoring a record 36 goals in his first Premier League campaign, Erling Haaland has changed the face of the Golden Boot market.

However, don’t automatically assume that he will win the award for every season he spends with Manchester City. The Norwegian may miss games through injury, and may suffer with Kevin De Bruyne absent for the first half of this campaign (as the Midfield Maestro assisted Haaland eight times in the 2022/23 Premier League).

The former Borussia Dortmund man hasn’t dragged up the Golden Boot average yet either. Across the last five seasons, the average number of goals required to finish as top scorer was 25.4, when it was 28.6 in the half-decade prior to that.

However, despite that fall, it has been 12 years since fewer than 22 goals were enough to win the Golden Boot – in 2010/11, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov shared the award with 20 goals each.

With an eye on the market at the start of the 2023/24 campaign, we need to consider who might be capable of scoring at least 22 times.

In the last five Premier League seasons, there have been 12 examples of a player reaching this benchmark. Only eight different players have achieved this feat though; Mohamed Salah has done so three times, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane twice, with Haaland, Danny Ings, Sadio Mané, Son Heung-min, and Jamie Vardy doing so once.

It’s an impressive group of forwards, but it also illustrates how difficult it is to repeatedly accumulate a goal haul of this size. Let’s see if there are any trends we can look for. 

Does starting slowly affect Golden Boot chances?

It appears to be vital to hit the ground running to score at least 22 goals. Eight of our sample of 12 instances from 2018/19 onwards saw the player score more goals before the halfway point, with two having an even split, and just two netting more than half of their goals in the final 19 match weeks. Son Heung-min took a share of the 2021/22 award with 12 goals in the final 10 matches, but he is an exception rather than the rule.

Haaland was the 1.546* favourite to win the 2023/24 Golden Boot before the campaign began, and he bagged his 22nd goal in Manchester City’s 19th game last season. He scored that total in his final Bundesliga campaign and had 13 after 17 games, despite missing six matches through injury in that spell.

The reigning Premier League Golden Boot holder started this season well with a brace at Burnley, and it will be hard for others to keep up. Pinnacle feel confident that nobody will match the City man, as evidenced by the ‘Erling Haaland Premier League 23/24 Top Goalscorer’ market. The prices are 1.400* for yes and 2.850* for no, meaning they give him approximately a 67% chance of scoring the most goals in 2023/24.

If Golden Boot second favourite Salah (9.070*) is to catch Haaland, he needs a very strong start, as he will miss some games thanks to the Cup of Nations early next year. The Egyptian scored 23 goals and was joint-top scorer in 2021/22, the last season in which the championship of Africa was held, so has proven he can miss time and still compete in this market.

The average goal-scoring streak was just 4.5 matches.

With Jamie Vardy not in contention for 2023/24, it likely isn’t essential for your pick to go on a long streak of scoring in every game. The Leicester talisman set the Premier League record for consecutive scoring with 11 games in the Foxes’ title winning campaign of 2015/16, and later followed that up in 2019/20 with an eight-game run which helped him to be top scorer.

None of the other 11 instances of a player scoring 22+ goals in the last five years saw a goal-scoring streak of more than seven games, and the average for the longest spell was just 4.5 matches.

It’s more important to be consistent and not suffer a significant goal drought – aside from Vardy, none of the other players in our sample went more than six games without a goal, and they collectively averaged 3.9 matches for their longest scoreless run.

The consistency point is also backed up by the general lack of hat-tricks. Haaland scored four of them in 2022/23, but the other 11 examples in this study amassed five between them.

It is more important to score regularly. Every player who netted at least 22 times in the last five seasons scored in at least 16 games, and in an average of 18.7.

Durability is a key factor too, as no player has ever been the Premier League’s top scorer without making at least 30 appearances. Haaland’s performance in the first half of last season suggested he could potentially do it, but it seems vital to be fit as the season draws to a close if a player wants to be in the mix for the Golden Boot award.

Using statistics to identify trends

It is interesting that players have tended to score more in the first half of the last five seasons as the opposite tended to be true in the years immediately prior.

It being that way round made far more sense. As seasons progress, teams get more tired, which makes space easier to come by. Struggling clubs may have to open up more in pursuit of three points, and in the last few weeks of a season, some teams have nothing but pride to play for.

Ultimately, much seems to rest on a player having a hot streak somewhere in the season. The 12 examples in our study collectively overperformed against their expected goals by 15%, ranging from 7% under (Aubameyang in 2018/19) through to 41% over (Ings the following season).

To highlight warm and cold spells, we can break a campaign down into four broadly equal categories: games one to 10, 11 to 19, 20 to 28, and 29 to 38. In all 12 instances of a player scoring at least 22 goals in the last five seasons, they had a quarter season in which they overachieved by at least 27 per cent.

There were extreme cases where a player was netting at over twice the expected rate. In the third quarter of 2018/19, Mané hit seven goals from 3.06 xG, yet that followed a nine-game run in which he scored 1.66 goals fewer than expected.

Similarly, Vardy made a red-hot start to 2019/20, more than doubling his 4.29 xG in the first 10 games to get 9 goals. He later had an 11-appearance run in which he found the net just twice. Finishing prowess goes up and down for even the very best in the relatively small sample of a single season.

With that in mind, it appears to be important for a player to reach a minimum expected goal level over the season, with each of the 12 players in our study having averaged at least 0.47 xG per 90 minutes.

If we look for all Premier League players who reached that mark and played at least 2,700 minutes in the last five years, we find that 28 men qualify. They scored an average of 19.5 goals and only three amassed fewer than 15, so for someone to be in the Golden Boot conversation, they need to be playing at least 75% of the minutes with an xG average of around one every two full matches.

The information here can be a useful guide, but nothing is set in stone. However, nine of the 12 seasons in the study saw the player score at least six goals in the opening 10 games, so if your Golden Boot pick doesn’t do likewise, chances are they aren’t going to score at least 22 goals or win the prize.

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