It was the news that all Manchester City were dreading: Sergio Aguero picked up a hamstring injury whilst on international duty for Argentina, and will now miss up to seven games of his side’s Premier League campaign.
Wilfried Bony will come in – himself a quality operator – so it is not all doom and gloom for City, but replacing a man who has bagged 84 goals in his last 128 appearances takes some doing.
The other thing that warrants a mention is that the Top Goalscorer market in the Premier League has opened right up given the 27-year-old’s medium-term absence. Aguero has bagged six goals so far this season – five of those coming in a single afternoon against Newcastle United, but the 6/4 bookies favourite could have some catching up to do when he returns to the fold.
Leicester’s Jamie Vardy is the early pacesetter in this market with seven strikes, but isn’t strongly fancied to carry that form through until the end of the season; hence his generous price of 25/1.
So who are the top contenders to overhaul Aguero in the Top Goalscorer market?
Alexis Sanchez (13/2) – Five Goals
The Chilean has continued where he left off last season in terms of his goal count and performances, and he has nudged himself up to second in the market on the back of this.
Playing in a side with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott ensures that you will enjoy plenty of opportunities to score – as Sanchez’s brace against Manchester United testifies, and despite operating mainly as a left winger he has a reputation as a player with an eye for goal.
Surprisingly though, Arsenal have not been as prolific during this campaign as they usually are, notching just 13 goals in eight matches so far – or 1.62 per game, and this could back up claims that Arsene Wenger is going for a more pragmatic approach this season. That won’t help Sanchez’s top scorer claims.
Romelu Lukaku (16/1) – Five Goals
At 6ft 3in and built like a brick outhouse, but handy with the ball at his feet and plenty of pace to burn, Romelu Lukaku boasts all of the attributes that a well-balanced modern centre forward needs. The only thing he has lacked in previous seasons is goals; 15 in 2013/14 and 10 in 2014/15.
But with five goals in eight games so far this campaign, perhaps the big Belgian is finally starting to fulfil his potential. The only thing that would prevent many punters betting with much confidence is that Everton aren’t generally a free-scoring side – indeed Lukaku has scored nearly half of their goals this season – and this is reflected in his price of 16/1.
Graziano Pelle (25/1) – Five Goals
The Southampton marksman enjoyed a decent first campaign in the Premier League last year; starting like a house on fire before eventually finishing with 12 goals.
There’s always that concern that a striker will suffer from ‘second season syndrome’, e.g. they get found out by their opposition who know a bit more about how to mark them. But with five goals in eight games, Pelle has showed no signs of slowing down.
He benefits from having the quality of Dusan Tadic, the pace of Saido Mane and the industriousness of Jay Rodriguez around him, and at this price he represents decent each way value (finishing in the top four top scorers guarantees a return).
Various Other Contenders
He may only have opened his account for the season a matter of weeks ago, but Harry Kane (40/1) looks long at this price. He tends to score his goals in clusters (he bagged 21 in 34 last season), and is backed by the creativity of Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, amongst others.
Daniel Sturridge (20/1) is a fantastic talent, and has a pedigree of scoring big goals when/if he can stay fit (and it’s a big if). He’ll miss the support of Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling which he enjoyed in his breakthrough season, but with the probing of the improving Philippe Coutinho and the battering ram Christian Benteke alongside him, anything is possible.
And what about Olivier Giroud (40/1), who has led the line admirably for Arsenal in recent times despite being usurped by Theo Walcott in the pecking order recently. But having bagged 41 goals in his last three seasons, and with three to his name this term, the Frenchman is another that looks good each way value at the price.