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Golden Boot race: How the contenders compare

Adrian Clarke 1 Apr 2022
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Adrian Clarke analyses and compares the players vying to be 2021/22's top scorer

Adrian Clarke explains how the Premier League's leading scorers have emerged as prime contenders for the 2021/22 Golden Boot, presented by Castrol.

Mohamed Salah (LIV) - 20 goals

Salah has to be considered a red-hot favourite to land his third Premier League Golden Boot as he adapts his game to become even more efficient.

Compared with the previous two campaigns Salah is scoring at a significantly faster rate, netting once every 113 minutes

That is a full 22 minutes quicker than team-mate Diogo Jota, although Salah’s tally does include five penalties.

Salah's progression
Season Mins/goal Shots in box/90 Conversion rate
2019/20 151.8 3.43 20.0%
2020/21 140 2.86 24.4%
2021/22 113 3.66 23.0%

Salah's conversion rate is actually lower than it was in 2020/21 when he finished with 22 goals, but this time around he is taking on more shots from inside the opposition penalty area.

Playing for a much-improved Liverpool side, who stretch rival teams more effectively this term, he has been on the receiving end of better opportunities from close range.

He has scored far more from eight yards out or closer in 2021/22.

Salah makes goals for himself like no one else in the league, boasting six goal-ending ball carries this term including wonderful solo efforts against Manchester City and Watford.

When it comes to comparing the quality of chances he receives and his ability to beat goalkeepers with his shots on target, the Egyptian is also undoubtedly the most dangerous forward in the division.

A look at his "Expected Goals on Target" (or xGOT) figures bears this out. Expected Goals on Target measures the likelihood of an on-target shot resulting in a goal, based on the combination of the underlying chance quality (xG) and the end location of the shot within the goalmouth.

Top Expected Goals on Target (xGOT)
2021/22 Highest xGOT
Salah (LIV) 0.82
Sterling (MCI) 0.67
Mahrez (MCI) 0.63
Kane (TOT) 0.56
Ronaldo (MUN) 0.52

Salah's xGOT ratio is 0.82 per 90 minutes, a stat far in advance of any other Golden Boot contender.

It would be a huge surprise if Salah does not end this campaign as the league’s leading marksman.

Salah's April fixtures
WAT (H), MCI (A), MUN (H), EVE (H), NEW (A)

Diogo Jota (LIV) - 13 goals

Nine Liverpool players have played more minutes than Jota this season but he is still the competition’s joint-second highest scorer, with 13 goals from 20 starts. 

The Portuguese has successfully honed his goal-poaching skills since joining in the summer. Ten of his 13 goals have been lethal one-touch finishes from between two and nine yards out. 

That tally features an impressive three headed goals, all excellently produced, and this followed on from a trio of headers scored during his first five months as a Liverpool player in 2020/21. 

Interestingly, none of the 16 top-flight strikes he produced for Wolverhampton Wanderers came with his head, a sign that he was less of a penalty-area forward at Molineux. 

Jota's PL goal record
Jota Wolves Liverpool
Matches  67 45
Goals 16 22
Mins/goal 291.6 130.5
Shots/90 2.5 3.5
Shots inside box/90 2.1 3.0
Touches in opp. box/90 5.6 7.6
Shot conversion rate (inc. blocks) 12.6% 19.8%

Jota’s finishing has always been varied - he scores with both feet - but his conversion rate has improved under Jurgen Klopp

This is partly down to his own personal development but also the quality of the chances he receives. 

The 25-year-old feels more of a natural instinctive finisher at Anfield, where his sharp movement is perhaps rewarded more frequently thanks to the quality of service around him. 

Finding the back of the net once every 135.2 minutes, he is enjoying a tremendous campaign. 

Jota's April fixtures
WAT (H), MCI (A), MUN (H), EVE (H), NEW (A)

Son Heung-min (TOT) - 13 goals

Son is the most lethal finisher in contention to win this season’s Golden Boot. 

His conversion rate has dropped from 32.1 per cent last term (the best of the leading scorers) to 27.1 per cent this time around but he still leads the way when it comes to having a clinical edge. 

Like Jota the Tottenham Hotspur attacker has also reached 13 goals without the help of penalties, too. 

Top attacking stats in 2021/22
Player Conversion rate Player Goals +60min
Son 27.1% Son 8
Jota 25.0% Salah 8
Salah 23.0% Mahrez 6
Mane 22.6% Sterling 6
Ronaldo 19.4% Mane 5
Kane 16.7% De Bruyne 5

The South Korean also sets the standard in home matches, where he has delivered 10 goals for Spurs in 2021/22. 

No other player has scored more in front of their own fans, and his efforts are responsible for an incredible 38 per cent share of the team’s total at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, with nine goals at Old Trafford, has an identical share for Manchester United

Son is also incredibly dangerous in the latter stages of matches, netting eight of his 13 goals from the hour mark onwards. 

When space opens up and matches begin to get stretched late on it does suit Spurs' counter-attacking style under Antonio Conte – and in those moments their leading scorer is a destructive presence. 

Harry Kane's excellence at dropping into midfield to knit moves together also plays into Son’s strengths. 

As part of the most productive pairing in Premier League history, setting each other up for 39 goals in total, the England captain has assisted his team-mate four times this season. 

Son's April fixtures
NEW (H), AVL (A), BHA (H), BRE (A), LEI (H)

Harry Kane (TOT) - 12 goals

Scoring seven goals in his last seven appearances, or 11 in his last 15 if you take it back a little further, Kane is making a late charge for the Golden Boot. 

Earlier on in the campaign he looked sluggish under Nuno Espirito Santo but the arrival of Conte has had a rejuvenating effect on the Spurs superstar. 

Under Conte, Spurs are moving the ball quicker between the lines, attacking with greater speed and intensity, and this has helped Kane’s excellent movement. 

The 28-year-old has always liked space to run into, and in recent weeks his sprints into goalscoring positions have been nothing short of world class. 

He has raced in behind from through-balls to score from 1v1s against Leicester City, Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion

Kane has also ghosted into wonderful positions from deep to offer angles. His strikes against Man City, Leeds United and Everton showcased those qualities. 

Kane's shots/goals in 2021/22
  First 14 matches Last 14 matches
Mins played 1,188 1,234
Total shots (exc. blocks) 26 46
Shot conversion rate (exc. blocks) 7.7% 21.7%
Goals 2 10

Since Boxing Day Kane has rediscovered his touch, scoring 10 times. 

He has received almost twice as many chances, but his finishing has been almost three times as clinical as it had been before Christmas. 

If anyone is going to make a late push to challenge Salah for the Golden Boot, Kane looks to be the most likely to push him close.

Kane's April fixtures
NEW (H), AVL (A), BHA (H), BRE (A), LEI (H)

Also in this series

Part 2: Playmaker Award race: How the contenders compare
Part 3: Golden Glove race: How the contenders compare

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