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Premier League Golden Boot contenders

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Three of those players are tied on 14 goals following a weekend which saw doubt cast over Diego Costa’s future while his main rivals all found the net.

Last season’s winner Harry Kane sits just one goal behind the leading trio after netting a hat-trick in Tottenham’s 4-0 demolition of West Brom.

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe also bagged to climb on to 12 goals apiece, while Sergio Aguero is far from written off on 11 goals.

Here’s a look at the seven main contenders’ credentials…

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 14 goals 

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic failed to score from 12 shots against Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton on October 29 some dared to question whether, at 35, he could deliver in England. That was also the third successive Premier League game in which Manchester United had failed to find the net and Swedish superstar’s sixth.

Those questions have since been answered in typical emphatic fashion, with 10 goals in as many games firing Manchester United back into the title race. Sky Bet punters certainly had faith in his abilities, with more bets on him to be top goalscorer than any other player, while his 14th goal of the season saw him leapfrog Diego Costa at the head of the market.

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Harry Kane – 13 goals

Harry Kane, last season’s Golden Boot winner has attracted the second most interest. The 22-year-old had only just scored his second goal of the season when an ankle injury ruled him out until November 6, but he returned to get Tottenham’s campaign back on track.

His equaliser at Arsenal was the first of 12 in 11 appearances, with braces against West Ham, Swansea and Watford followed by Saturday’s treble. With second-placed Spurs looking genuine title contenders again and Kane boasting a better goals-per-minute ratio than any of his rivals, his credentials to top the charts yet again are looking very strong.

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Diego Costa – 14 goals

What a difference a weekend can make. Diego Costa was the 13/8 favourite to be the top goalscorer heading into the last round of action but speculation over his future and an absence from Chelsea’s trip to Leicester has seen his price drift significantly.

Suggestions that the change of the foreign player allowance rule in China might have killed off chances of a £30m-per-year move will be of great relief to those who backed him at 12/1 before a ball was kicked, not to mention the 13.72 per cent of managers with him in Sky Sports Fantasy Football teams.

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Alexis Sanchez – 14 goals 

Olivier Giroud’s recent heroics have seen Alexis Sanchez’s efforts go under the radar somewhat of late, but the Chile star has arguably been the top performer of the season.

His 14 goals are complimented by seven assists, more than any of the other contenders. Having been forced to operate from a deeper role in recent weeks, it remains to be seen whether his goal ratio will take a hit from a secondary striker role behind Giroud but he is second to none after 21 games.

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Romelu Lukaku – 12 goals  

Everton’s role in the title race may be little more than upsetting the front runners but that has not stopped Romelu Lukaku from getting involved in the Golden Boot battle. The Belgian, who has now reached double figures in the league for a fifth straight season, netted for the third successive time in all competitions after the Toffees got stuck into Manchester City on Super Sunday.

With some exciting January business already completed at Goodison Park, the 23-year-old looks a good bet to beat his personal best of 17 Premier League goals. However, only six per cent of Sky Bet punters believe he can see off the competition and top the charts.

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Jermain Defoe – 12/1 goals 

With a remarkable 60 per cent of his side’s 20 goals this season, Jermain Defoe is once again almost single-handedly keeping Sunderland’s survival hopes alive this season.

The 34-year-old has made a mockery of his age and club’s status to be in the Golden Boot race, although Sky Bet clearly are not convinced he can maintain such form with their odds of 25/1. That’s barely shorter than his pre-season price of 33/1, although that perhaps says more about the depth of competition than his own efforts.

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Sergio Aguero – 11 goals

Sergio Aguero took up his usual place as pre-season favourite to be the Premier League top goalscorer but has struggled to keep pace. Featuring in enough games has once again been his problem, although it has been suspension rather than injury which has limited his playing time, while Manchester City’s struggles certainly haven’t helped.

Pep Guardiola’s men have crumbled amid the testing run they find themselves in, with Aguero only managing to score once in four as his side have suffered loses to Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. With the league’s best defensive side in Tottenham visiting the Etihad Stadium next, Aguero has some rare critics to answer this weekend.

Best of the rest

Dele Alli is the only other player with double figures this season, having fired a stunning seven goals in four games, but Sky Bet remain unconvinced about his chances of maintaining such form and offer 40/1.

At the same price and on nine goals is Eden Hazard, who enjoyed a fine run of five in five across October and November but has just one in his last five. Sadio Mane (80/1) is also on nine goals but is losing ground as he competes in the Africa Cup of Nations, while Christian Benteke and Olivier Giroud, on eight and seven goals respectively, are the only others shorter than 100/1.

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