Can Palmer win Premier League golden boot?

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Can Palmer win Premier League golden boot?
Can Palmer win Premier League golden boot?

Africa-Press – Mauritius. Cole Palmer is the fourth player to score four goals for Chelsea in a Premier League match, after Frank Lampard (twice), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Gianluca Vialli.

“You’d have got good odds on him winning the golden boot.” That is what former Arsenal striker Alan Smith said of Chelsea’s Cole Palmer on Sky Sports after the midfielder struck four goals in his side’s 6-0 thrashing over Everton.

Palmer was simply sensational, netting a hat-trick inside 29 minutes and adding his 20th Premier League goal of the season in the second half to move him level with Erling Haaland in the race for the Golden Boot.

It is all the more remarkable considering before Palmer moved from Manchester City to Chelsea this summer the 21-year-old had never scored a league goal.

Palmer also has nine assists from his 28 Premier League games this season, a chance conversion rate of 33 per cent and a high shot accuracy of 67 per cent, level with Newcastle’s Alexander Isak. Both on-form forwards score a goal on average every 104 minutes played.

Fast forward seven months and the England star could be on course to finish as the division’s top scorer.

From super sub to main man

In November, Palmer told BBC Sport he moved from his boyhood club to west London in search of “regular game time”.

He made 25 appearances for Manchester City last season, of which just seven were starts. In contrast, he has already managed 25 goals this campaign, coming from an impressive 43 matches.

The £42m switch has seemingly paid off for Palmer and his employers. He is a lynchpin for Mauricio Pochettino’s side and has scored the most league goals in a season for the Blues since Diego Costa also hit 20 in 2016-17.

Chelsea still have seven league matches remaining.

“You expect him to perform well but he’s performing fantastic and doing amazing for the team,” Chelsea boss Pochettino told BBC Match of the Day. “I’m happy for him scoring four goals.”

Palmer took his first three goals superbly, with his left foot, head and right foot, to score the fastest Premier League ‘perfect’ hat-trick since Gracenote started recording that data in 2008-09.

He opened the scoring in the 13th minute by curling a beautiful strike into the bottom corner after nutmegging Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite and playing a one-two with teammate Nicolas Jackson.

Five minutes later he got his second, heading in a rebound after a Jackson shot had been saved by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford.

The hat-trick was complete midway through the first half in style after he intercepted a poor pass from Pickford before lobbing the England goalkeeper from 40 yards out.

And after the restart, he won a penalty and coolly added his fourth from the spot.

“It all happens so fast,” Palmer told Sky Sports. “The first one was my favourite, my right foot was a bit of a swinger!”

Even if Palmer hints at some fortune, his four-goal tally means the Mancunian now boasts some pretty formidable stats:

Palmer became the first Chelsea player to score a first-half hat-trick in the Premier League and just the second player to score a hat-trick in back-to-back home Premier League appearances for the club after Didier Drogba in May/August 2010.

He became the first Chelsea player to score in seven successive Premier League appearances at Stamford Bridge.

He is the third player to reach 20+ goals in his debut Premier League season for Chelsea after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (23 goals in 2000-01) and Diego Costa (20 goals in 2014-15).

And he has converted all nine penalties he has taken in the Premier League with only Yaya Toure (11/11) posting a better 100 per cent conversion rate from the spot in the competition’s history.

Who could challenge Palmer to the Golden Boot?

The obvious answer is Erling Haaland who had a record-breaking season last term, scoring 36 league goals in 35 games. But Haaland is, for him at least, in stuttering form having managed just two goals in his past eight matches for City and Norway.

Ollie Watkins has managed one goal fewer than Palmer and Haaland. His 19 strikes are the joint-most ever in a Premier League campaign for his club Aston Villa, matching Christian Benteke’s tally in 2012-13.

Three goals off the top is Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, a three-time Golden Boot winner. Salah’s 17 goals mean the Egyptian is level with Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke and Newcastle’s Alexander Isak.

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min and West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen are outsiders with 15 strikes each. Palmer is the league’s most in-form goalscorer having scored 11 goals across his past six games in all competitions. Who would back against him?

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