Just as it is far too early in the season to draw definitive conclusions from the Premier League table, it would also be premature to put too much stock in the top scorers list.
That, of course, is not to diminish the considerable achievements of Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki, who has found the net in every game he has played so far this season and sits in joint-first place on five strikes. However, the Finland international himself would no doubt be surprised to finish the campaign in such a lofty position.
Raheem Sterling also has five goals from three matches and it would be less of a shock to see him maintain his spot at the summit of the standings. The former Liverpool forward started 2019/20 with a bang, bagging a hat-trick in the 5-0 thrashing of West Ham United on the opening weekend, before scoring once each against Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth.
Sterling has taken his game to another level in the last couple of seasons, making him a contender for the title of best inside forward in the world. He scored 18 goals in the Premier League in 2017/18 and 17 last time out; in all competitions, the figures were 23 and 25 respectively. He has averaged a goal every other game since 2016/17, a phenomenal record even though he is playing in arguably the strongest team in the world..
Having made such a blistering start to the current campaign, it makes perfect sense that people are beginning to wonder whether Sterling can win the Golden Boot this term. His goals up to now evidence how much more reliable he has become in and around the 18-yard box; his back-post header against Spurs, for instance, was the type of chance he probably would not have dispatched earlier in his career.
There remain doubts about Sterling’s proficiency with a certain type of opportunity, however. The England international is still not the most assured finisher when he has time to think – witness his failure to take advantage of a golden opening when racing through on goal with Kyle Walker in support in the Community Shield against Liverpool.
In terms of the Golden Boot, though, that might not matter. Sterling continues to get himself into fantastic positions with his superb off-the-ball movement, and he has already demonstrated this season that he can be lethal in the right sort of situation.
Finishing 2019/20 as the Premier League’s top scorer would be some effort, though. Sergio Agüero, for one, will expect to be there or thereabouts next May, as will Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane. Sadio Mané was one of three winners last time out and could repeat the feat, while Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford could come close if Manchester United’s attack fires throughout the season.
Salah showed two years ago that you do not necessarily have to be a central striker to win the Golden Boot these days. After a magnificent start, Sterling could be about to follow in the Egyptian’s footsteps.