The expected front-runners in the Top Goalscorer 09/10 market are already setting a fast pace and this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting races of the season.
The leaders at this early stage are Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney, both with four goals, followed by Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor on three. Among the large group of players on two goals are Nicolas Anelka, last year’s winner, and Steven Gerrard.
Pre-season favourite Torres still heads the market on 4.9, followed by Rooney at 7.2, Drogba at 7.8, Defoe at , Adebayor at 11.5 and Anelka at 13.5. Then there is a gap back to Gerrard, next in the betting on 27.0.
Without Cristiano Ronaldo (third, first and second in the past three seasons), the race is more open than it has been for years. Four of the players high in the betting either have won before or would have won ‘without Ronaldo’, though only three – Torres, Drogba and Adebayor – have proved they can score the 20-plus goals in a season that was required for victory in nine consecutive seasons until last season, when Anelka won with 19.
Given the fast pace at the top already this season, the winning mark looks likely to be in the twenties again, and one of the most interesting early movers has been Adebayor, who looks back to his best following his move to Manchester City. His best was 24 goals two seasons ago and, even though he was well back last season on 10 goals, it is worth noting that he started 12 fewer games than the season before. If Adebayor plays 30-plus games, as he did in 2007/08, he looks sure to be thereabouts and his odds have the potential to shorten further.
The biggest doubt about Adebayor’s chance is that he does not play for one of the established big four teams, who have provided the Premier League’s top scorer in each of the past nine seasons. Only seven players from outside the big four have even made the top three in those nine seasons. That doubt also exists about Defoe, and so too does a probable lack of goals from the penalty spot, which can make all the difference.
The only established penalty-taker among the front-runners is Rooney, who has scored one penalty already and probably has the job for good, following Michael Carrick’s miss from the spot in Manchester United’s defeat at Burnley. On the evidence so far, playing through the middle is likely to boost Rooney’s total from his previous best of 16, and he looks a solid chance. The question mark against him is whether he can get into the mid-20s, as Torres and Adebayor have proved they can.
It is interesting that no Arsenal striker figures high up the betting, and the early value among the big prices could lie with one of them. The Gunners are joint-top scorers in the Premier League with 11 goals from just three games, but clearly the market view is that the goals will continue to be shared around. Eduardo is 32.0, Robin Van Persie is 34.0 and Andrei Arshavin 36.0.
Liverpool’s title chance has been written off in some quarters, and they have drifted markedly since the start of the season to 9.8 in the Winner 2009/10 market. Yet they are not quite dead and buried despite two defeats in their opening four games.
Rafa Benitez’s team have won their other two games, and Liverpool backers can take heart from the fact that their six points is higher than Manchester United had in each of the past two seasons. In 16 Premier League seasons, though, only four title winners had six or fewer points at this stage, so Liverpool can hardly afford any more early slip-ups.
Another way of putting Liverpool’s start into perspective is by looking at their results against the same four opponents last season. Compared with this season’s six points, Liverpool took seven points from the equivalent four games last season, so arguably they have hardly under-performed.
The next six games, up to the 10-game mark, will be crucial. If Liverpool repeat last year’s performance in the equivalent fixtures, they will gain 14 more points to take them to 20 after 10 games. That would be well down on last season’s 26 points after 10 games, and again only four title winners have had 20 points or lower at that stage.
Liverpool are not out of it yet, but they have to hold their nerve and pick up the pace quickly. Certainly there are no significant signs of terminal decline, and they remain 1.46 in the Top 4 Finish 2009/10 market. That makes them the outsider of the big four in that market and, if they really do not have enough to win the title and are set to be the weakest of the big four, there is another way of getting with Liverpool at this stage and that is to back No at 2.1 in the New Top 4 2009/10 market.
Getting into the 70s is the benchmark for a top-four finish, and at this stage there is no significant evidence that any of the big four will fall short of that mark, so the onus is very much on the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham to prove they can last the distance.
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
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