Despite approaching his 34th birthday, Jamie Vardy is once again defying the pre-season odds placed upon him in the Premier League golden boot betting.
Last season, the Leicester striker became the oldest winner of the top scorer gong in the Premier League era after racking up 23 goals and thereby overcoming pre-season odds of 25/1 to finish top of the chart.
The bookmakers seemingly learned little from that misjudgement, pricing the reigning golden boot winner up at 22/1 before a ball had been kicked this season.
With the busy Christmas period on the horizon those odds have come in to just 9/2, making Vardy third favourite behind Mohamed Salah (7/2) and Harry Kane (4/1).
Vardy has scored 10 goals in 11 league games – the same as Salah – though it’s actually 6/1 outsider Dominic Calvert-Lewin who currently tops the chart with 11 goals.
Kane currently has nine goals to his name and in the long run is expected to out-score his midfield team-mate Son Heung-Min who is also sitting on 10 goals having played all 12 games for table-toppers Tottenham so far this season.
Latest Premier League Top Scorer Odds
At this early stage it looks like a four-way fight between strikers Vardy, Salah, Kane and Calvert-Lewin, but what puts the Leicester man at a disadvantage is his age.
The former Fleetwood forward turns 34 in January but has shown no signs of slowing down as Vardy still boasts a quick turn of pace and an instinctive eye for goal, but can he really finish up top goalscorer again in his mid-30s?
“Why not? He’s a confident player and scores plenty of good goals, plays off the shoulder and is always a threat,” former Leicester forward Julian Joachim told bookmakers.co.uk.
“If he’s not playing Leicester really don’t seem to be able to play on the front foot. It’s a massive boost when he is on the field and you can see that with the goals he’s already got this season.
“There’ll be many more goals to come this season. He’ll be confident of getting that golden boot and that will be one of his main targets for the season.”
Will Southgate Give Vardy A Call?
Indeed, Vardy’s form has prompted suggestions that England manager Gareth Southgate could soon be calling him up to ask if he’d consider coming out of international retirement ahead of the European Championships next summer, something Joachim wouldn’t be opposed to.
He said: “If I was Gareth, I’d be looking at the form of the English strikers and looking at who’s scoring goals, and Vardy is always up there and has been for the past few seasons.
“It’s a bit of a shame he’s called it a day with England, but who knows.”
Meanwhile, Vardy’s rise from the lower leagues is well documented, but suggestions that his rags-to-riches story may never be repeated could be a little premature.
Step forward Coventry striker Matty Godden. The 29-year-old has been out injured since November 4 and the Sky Blues have certainly missed his presence with just three wins in their last eight games since he was forced off against Nottingham Forest last month.
Over the last six years, Godden has progressed from non-league with Ebbsfleet to Championship level with Coventry, via stints at Stevenage in League Two and Peterborough United in League One.
After scoring 14 goals for two consecutive seasons in England’s third tier, Godden hit the ground running in the Championship after achieving promotion with Coventry, scoring four times in his first 10 games at this level before injury struck.
Matty Godden: The New Vardy?
Coventry manager Mark Robbins recently gave a positive update on his striker’s injury, but it’s likely going to be 2021 before we see him on the field again.
That might actually be a blessing in disguise for Robbins ahead of the January transfer window, with some suggestions that Godden could soon attract interest from Premier League sides before injury halted his impressive form.
Which begs the question – could Matty Godden become the new Jamie Vardy?
“I don’t see why not,” said Julian Joachim, who also played for Coventry. “I haven’t seen a great deal of him but when you look at his record it’s very impressive.
“He’s still got a lot to prove of course, but first and foremost he’d need that opportunity to prove himself at the top level.
“He’s done really well to work his way through the leagues and so far so good for him, he’s scoring plenty of goals and good goals at that.
“When he gets a chance within the 18-yard box he always seems to put the ball away so he’s obviously playing with a lot of confidence and, who knows, he might have the ability to go a step further and play in the Premier League and do well.”
Joachim believes the January transfer window will likely come too soon for Godden to make the step up, but if can pick up where he left off after recovering from the foot injury it won’t be long before a Premier League opportunity presents itself.
“I’m sure there’ll be Premier League clubs out there having a look at him and someone might take a chance on him,” said Joachim.
“He might have to wait a bit to get that opportunity, but there might be a few managers looking at him to provide cover as a second or third choice striker to have on the bench.
“If that’s the case, he’s got to take that opportunity if it comes his way. If one of the lower Premier League clubs do come in for him he could even break into the first team.”
That said, Joachim hopes Robbins can hang on to his talisman as they look to solidify their presence in England’s second tier.
He said: “I know Mark Robbins, I played with him at Leicester, he’s a good bloke. Like Matt (Godden), he was a good finisher inside the box, so I’m sure Matt can learn a lot from him. Coventry is a good club and I wish them well so hopefully Godden remains a part of what they’re building there.”