Most likely to win the Golden Boot . . .
Qualifications for the New Boys’ Club: A striker currently in his debut season at his club.
Real Deal: A striker who has the potential to carry his team to glory, and will likely do it.
Mirage: A striker who seems like he could be the savior of the squad, but is far from it.
EPL opening weekend provided a total of 31 goals and lots of shots on targets, enough to draw in the most staunch football non-fans. Some elite members of the Strikers New Boys’ Club even got on the score sheet for their new clubs. Was it “first game” luck? Or can we expect one or more of these guys to do something special for their team this season? Time to file these fellas under “Real Deal” or “Mirage.”
Rooney: His departure from Manchester United was swift and non-dramatic, but his first game at his boyhood club, Everton, was the stuff dreams are made of. Scoring the only goal in the game versus Stoke City, it looked like vintage Wayne Rooney was back. Ultimately, his performance this first game is a mirage. Even though we know his capabilities, Rooney is on the other side of 30 and is not playing for a team with a midfield that is likely to provide many opportunities for him to operate as a golden boot-winning-forward.
Lukaku: The 75 million pound 24 year old scored 2 goals on his debut and has been a fixture in the EPL for 7 seasons, each season scoring more goals than the last one. We are looking at the real deal here. Lukaku, runner up for golden boot last year, has a semi-weak first touch, but has the speed and strength to make up for it. Couple that with the pacy wingers he has beside him and the fact that he can create his own shots, he has the most obvious chance of exceeding his past attainments of all the members of the New Boys’ Club.
Salah: Liverpool’s acquisition is more of a winger than an all out striker. You may remember him from 3 seasons ago when he was involved in Chelsea’s 6-0 rout of Arsenal. He spent the last 3 seasons in Italy where he had a goal scoring rate of 1 goal in 2 games. He scored on his debut and earned a penalty in the 3-3 draw v. Watford, but what was also noticed is that he was wasteful with opportunities. It is a mirage to think that he is anything more than what the squad already possesses.
Lacazette: Arsenal’s new front man opened scoring for the whole EPL season with an excellent header against Leicester City, showing good anticipation and positional awareness. The EPL has never seen this player, but with his excellent scoring record, he brings a dimension that does not currently exist on the Arsenal squad. It is already clear that he can fit right in with Arsenal’s mobile front line and that he looks to get a shot away quickly—a trait found in the most successful strikers. He is the real deal as far as Arsenal is concerned.
Hernandez: West Ham’s new forward returns to the EPL from Bayer Leverkusen where he scored 28 goals in 54 appearances. His reputation as a poacher precedes him and his style of play is “being at the right place at the right time.” Will he be able to replicate that record and elevate his new team? His dismal showing v. Man United aside, we are looking at a mirage with this one. He is the furthest away from the golden boot of the players on this list.
Morata: Replacement Costa had a good debut, scoring one goal and assisting another in the loss to Burnley. Morata is a four-time champion in Italy and Spain with a constant eye for goal. He has a good chance to be the star of the team and he is the real deal for Chelsea. He is another poach master with good aerial ability, quick feet and speed. His height and slight build makes him tricky to mark as he showed in his first match of the season. He will be a problem.
Most Likely to Win the Golden Boot: Alvaro Morata.
Who are your Real Deals and Mirages?
By EeJay Enekwa