Which striker will end up as the top scorer in the Premier League this season? Goal.com analyses those who are in contention this termBy Chris Davie
We're well over a month into the Premier League season and strikers across the top flight are already emerging as candidates to secure the Golden Boot at the end of the campaign.
Newcastle United striker Demba Ba currently heads the Premier League's scorers charts with six goals this season, closely followed by Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez and Steven Fletcher who have all struck five times this term.
Here's Goal.com's rundown of the players who have a shot of scooping the Golden Boot this season.
|THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Robin van Persie has enjoyed a positive start in front of goal for Manchester United following his arrival from Arsenal in the summer. The Dutchman, who topped the scorers chart in the Premier League last season with 30 goals, currently has five strikes to his name this term. A goal on his home debut was followed up with a match-winning hat-trick at Southampton, while the 29-year-old also netted the winner from the penalty spot against Liverpool last month.
Wayne Rooney finished just three behind Van Persie's tally last season but the England international has yet to open his account in the Premier League this season after a gashed leg kept him out of three of Manchester United's fixtures last month.
Sergio Aguero is another player whose opening to the season has been hampered by injury. Aguero netted 23 goals in his debut campaign as Manchester City went on to win the Premier League title last season, but the Argentine has only hit the back of the net once in the Premier League this term after sustaining a knee injury in City's opening fixture against Southampton which subsequently saw him miss three games.
|THE DARK HORSES
Nikica Jelavic ended up as Everton's top scorer in the Premier League last term after netting nine goals in 13 appearances following his arrival from Rangers in January. The Croatian has begun this season in a similar fashion after scoring three in five league games.
|PREMIER LEAGUE TOP SCORERS
Demba Ba's return in front of goal was mixed last season after the striker scored 15 goals for Newcastle before heading to the African Nations with Senegal in January. After returning from international duty, Ba linked up with Papiss Cisse for the remainder of Newcastle's campaign following his compatriot's arrival from Freiburg, but he struggled to replicate his early season form and added just one more to his tally before the end of the term.
This campaign, however, has seen Ba fly out of the traps and the 27-year-old currently tops the Premier League's scoring charts with six goals. Cisse, meanwhile, who netted 13 in 14 appearances last term, has yet to score in six games.
There was a time when Fernando Torres would have been considered a favourite to win the Premier League's golden boot but the Spaniard has struggled to match the form he displayed in his early career since his £50 million move from Liverpool. As a result, Torres' first full season at Chelsea produced just six goals in 32 league appearances.
This season has widened the opportunities for Torres following Didier Drogba's departure to Shanghai Shenhua, and the 28-year-old has scored three goals in six league appearances, one of which was against Arsenal at the Emirates last Saturday.
Another striker who struggled to live up to expectations in front of goal last season was Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan netted 11 goals in 31 league appearances. A shortage of forwards this term has resulted in Brendan Rodgers playing Suarez in a more advanced role and the forward has struck once against Manchester City and Sunderland before boosting his tally to five with a hat-trick at Norwich City last weekend.
Steven Fletcher scored 12 goals in 32 appearances as Wolves suffered relegation last season but the Scot sealed a move to Sunderland in the summer. This term, Fletcher has struck five times in four games and looks set to be Martin O'Neill's first-choice striker at the Stadium of Light.
Southampton have secured just one win this season and lost their other five games but Rickie Lambert has enjoyed a strong start to the campaign after scoring four goals in six appearances.
Dimitar Berbatov ended as the Premier League's top scorer two seasons ago with Manchester United, but after being frozen out at Old Trafford last term, the Bulgarian secured a move to Fulham in the summer transfer window. Berbatov has started life at his new club brightly after finding the back of the net twice in three appearances but is currently sidelined with a hip injury.
Berbatov's team-mate at Fulham, Mladen Petric, has also enjoyed a strong start following his arrival from Hamburg, netting three times in four Premier League games.
After selling their top scorer in the summer, Arsenal have yet to unearth their replacement for Van Persie. The Dutchman's departure has allowed Arsene Wenger to rotate his front line which has seen Gervinho score three times in the league this season, while Lukas Podolski has netted twice.
Peter Crouch ended up as Stoke City's top scorer in the Premier League last season with ten goals and the 31-year-old looks to be on course to beat that record after scoring four in six this term.
Crouch's former team-mate, Jermain Defoe, has started as Tottenham's first-choice striker this season and the England international has repaid Andre Villas-Boas' faith by netting four goals in six games. Emmanuel Adebayor, meanwhile, scored 17 league goals last season but has seen his opening to the campaign restricted to just two substitute appearances due to a hamstring injury.
Michu netted an impressive 15 goals in La Liga from an attacking-midfield position for Rayo Vallecano last season - making him the top-scoring midfielder in Spain - and he looks set to match that tally with Swansea City this season after scoring four goals from six matches.
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