It’s crunch time in the 2024 European Championship qualifying, and the Premier League has taken a back seat for a fortnight.
We’re only 12 rounds into the new campaign but now feels like a perfect time to look at the division’s standout performers.
Although the usual suspects have already left the chasing pack behind in the Golden Boot race, we look at which players have done the most with their time in action.
#1 Leon Bailey
Perhaps surprisingly, Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey sits at the top of the pile.
His transition from a troubled marginal figure at Villa Park to the most proficient attacker in the Premier League has been nothing short of impressive.
The 2022/23 campaign was Villa’s transformative season as Unai Emery inherited a side up the creek without a paddle and turned it into a valid European contender.
But Bailey was still on the fringes, tallying just four goals and four assists across 33 top-flight appearances. It could be the reason behind Emery’s reluctance to play him regularly.
Or maybe it’s time to give the Jamaica international the benefit of the doubt. With a stunning ratio of 1.58 goals/assists per 90 minutes, he is the most industrious player in the division this term.
The 26-year-old has already amassed three goals and three assists in the Premier League this season. It only took him 340 minutes spreading across ten games to reach those figures.
It’s worth mentioning that he has yet to piece together a complete match in the Premier League in 2023/24.
The most time he spent on the field in a single game was against Everton in August. In 63 minutes, he repaid the manager’s trust with a goal and assist as Villa thumped the Toffees 4-0.
Looking at the numbers, it’s unfathomable how he has only registered one league start after that. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.
Kudos to Emery, who has found the best way to maximise Bailey’s potential. His dynamism and directness off the bench are causing chaos every game.
#2 Erling Braut Haaland
Following his record-breaking first season in the Premier League, there’s this irresistible feeling that everything Erling Braut Haaland touches turns to gold.
There’s probably no better description for the Norwegian’s outrageous exploits as he continues to rain down goals at a stunning rate, scoring 13 in the first 12 league matchdays.
Arsenal, Bournemouth, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers are the only sides to have fended off Pep Guardiola’s goalscoring machine, who averages 1.41 goals/assists per 90 minutes this season.
Unlike Bailey, Haaland has missed just over one half of play in 2023/24.
Guardiola subbed him off in the 80th minute after netting a match-winning brace against Burnley and left him in the locker room during a 6-1 demolition of Bournemouth.
Haaland’s array of magical moments this season includes a hat-trick against Fulham and doubles against the Clarets, Manchester United and Chelsea.
#3 Callum Wilson
Callum Wilson’s appearance this high on the list is a shocker, not so much because of his overall qualities, which are unquestionable, but because he has to share the spotlight with several Newcastle stars.
If you know that only two sides have racked up more goals in the Premier League than the Magpies (27) this term, it’s only natural to expect their centre-forward to make the cut.
However, the 31-year-old hasn’t always been Eddie Howe’s first choice. In fact, he has only recorded two Premier League starts, not to mention he’s lasted on the pitch for 90 minutes twice.
On each occasion he was given a chance to play the whole game he made it count, netting a winner in a 1-0 home win over Brentford and a double to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw against Wolves.
Those strikes form part of his seven-goal tally, as he has yet to provide an assist.
Wilson’s relatively sparse playing time hasn’t prevented him from mustering an admirable 1.31 goals ratio, which puts him ahead of the Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez.
His clubmate Alexander Isak is fifth on this list.
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