At the time of writing, we are one game into the 2023/24 Premier League season and if Erling Haaland continues scoring at his current rate he will amass 76 goals. OK, we’re being facetious, but the fact is that the incredible striker has clearly carried on where he left off, bagging a brace in the first game of the campaign.
In 2022/23 he finished six goals clear of Harry Kane and 16 ahead of third-placed Ivan Toney. Kane has moved to Bayern, whilst Toney will miss a number of matches due to a ban. Even if we ignore the fact that at the age of just 23 the Norwegian beast is only going to get better, and that City will surely become more accustomed to the way he plays, it seems hard to imagine Haaland being outgunned in the race for the PL Golden Boot in 2023/24. So, can anyone challenge him?
Haaland Breaks Records for Fun
In his debut season Haaland broke many records and absolutely smashed a few more, as well as claiming a number of major accolades. He has done this throughout much of his career but last term he won the European Golden Shoe, did an unprecedented double of Premier League Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season, and obliterated the record for most goals in a PL campaign.
The bookmakers make him a 1/2 shot to once again be the top scorer in the English top flight. For those unfamiliar with betting, that means that if you bet £5, you would get just £7.50 back in total (including your £5 stake).
Mo Salah is the second favourite at 9/1, with teammate Darwin Nunez next at 20/1, along with Marcus Rashford and Alexander Isak. Bet £5 on those and you would get £50 back for Salah and a massive £105 for any of the other three! In other words, the bookies are very confident that the former Borussia Dortmund striker will be the most prolific marksman in the PL.
Are There Any Real Rivals to Haaland?
Well, it should be noted that, as things stand, Newcastle’s Isak is, as we began this piece saying about Haaland, also on for 76 goals this term! The Swedish striker netted a brace against Villa on the opening weekend of the season and currently has a better goals-per-90 ratio than his fellow Scandinavian.
He only netted 10 goals last term but produced some dazzling moments and looked almost unplayable at times. What’s more, he was used sparingly, only featuring in 22 league games. He started just 17 times, in part down to injury, meaning he scored a goal every 153 minutes in the PL last term. He is also 23 and can clearly get better, whilst Newcastle, certainly on the evidence of their opening win, are also improving rapidly. It remains to be seen how Eddie Howe will manage Isak and his fellow striker Callum Wilson but if the Swede gets the minutes, he could certainly register 20+ league goals this term.
Can Liverpool’s Strikers Fire?
As noted above, Salah is the clear second favourite, albeit at rather distant double-digit odds. The Egyptian played considerably more minutes than Haaland last term but bagged “only” 19 league goals. A very solid tally and enough to win the Golden Boot in many seasons past, but not as many as he has managed most campaigns since claiming the Golden Boot himself in 2017/18 with 32. And certainly not enough to give City’s striker any sleepless nights.
Salah is 31 now and given pace is a big part of his game, so he may be on the way down, with his best days behind him. Moreover, there is still an outside chance he could move to Saudi this season. Last of all it is worth remembering that Liverpool have plenty of competition for places in their front three, with five top players to choose from.
One thing in Salah’s favour is the extra creativity Liverpool’s two new midfield signings will bring. But that will also help his teammate Nunez, who is available at far longer odds. Nunez was something of a joke last term, at least among rival fans, and ranked third for big chances missed. That said, Haaland was first, Rashford second and Salah was joint-third, so the Uruguayan was in fine company.
He bagged nine league goals last term from 29 appearances and will almost certainly improve that tally. He keeps getting in the right positions and has all the raw ingredients to be a superb player. He is only recently 24 and will improve in his second season in England but then so will Haaland. And it is a big ask to go from scoring nine to rivalling a man who seems almost certain to get 30-plus goals.
We have mentioned Rashford, and Man United will want to improve on their 2022/23 season and push Man City and Arsenal this term. However, the club have paid over £70m for a striker and it remains to be seen whether he will play alongside Rashford or be a rival. The Mancunian forward’s form after the World Cup was truly stunning though and if he can continue in that vein then he could be in a position to register a new personal high for goals. He got 17 goals in 35 PL outings last term, but after the global showpiece in Qatar he notched 13 in just 21 games. Mind you, even at that rate, he would need some serious improvement to even get close to Haaland.
Conclusion: Only Injuries Can Stop Haaland
Based on his whole career record and especially on his achievements last season (not to mention his start to this campaign), it would seem Haaland is almost certain to score in excess of 30 goals. That mark will prove too much for his rivals, with Salah’s very best years behind him, Kane having departed to the Bundesliga, and various question marks against the likes of Isak and Nunez. What’s more, there is every chance that City’s ace could score 40 or more. Bookies give him an 8/1 chance of doing that his odds for 35 or more are a mere 21/10.
Football is an unpredictable business but ultimately we can only see one player stopping Haaland from being the top scorer in the 2023/24 PL: Haaland. To be more specific, we think that only injuries can stop the powerful Norwegian. Should he be able to make at least 30 appearances (he started 31 times and came off the bench once last term), and possibly not even that, he will retain his Golden Boot!