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The return to the Premier League of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku has thrown the betting on the top scorer wide open already this season.
Ronaldo marked his return with a brace, albeit with the aid of some very suspect goalkeeping, while new Chelsea striker Lukaku looks a better player now than when he left the league in 2019.
Given their respective records in the big leagues and at international tournaments, it’s understandable why they head up the top scorer odds, with most betting apps going 11/4 apiece on Ronaldo and Lukaku.
Of course, there’s also the usual suspects Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane, who both look wildly overpriced at 6/1 and 10/1 respectively with Bet365. Mind you, Salah is likely to miss two Premier League games while the Africa Cup of Nations is on next year, while Kane's injury record is questionable.
Yet with four major players dominating the early betting – five if you include Jamie Vardy into the mix – there are some big prices available for those who feel the top dogs could be pushed all the way.
One such outsider is Danny Ings, a 40/1 shot who looks to have settled in well at his new club Aston Villa, scoring two goals and assisting another in his first four games.
Ings has gone close to winning the golden boot in the past, scoring 22 goals in the 2019-20 campaign for Southampton, ultimately finishing just one behind eventual winner Vardy.
Ings ‘Up There’ With The Best
Injury restricted him to just 29 starts last season as the Saints struggled, but he still managed 12 goals. Ings was left out of the most recent England squad and is currently 5/1 to Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad make next year.
Former Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey believes Ings deserves to be in Southgate’s plans and puts him up there with the very best goalscorers in the league.
“He’s one of those players that no one really mentioned when it comes to England but he’s a fantastic player,” Heskey told bookmakers.co.uk.
“When you’re talking about goalscoring ability, you’d put him up there with Harry Kane.”
Ings endured a difficult time at another of Heskey’s former clubs, Liverpool, where he scored just three Premier League goals in 22 appearances over the course of three injury-plagued seasons.
“That was all about injuries, it was nothing to do with his ability,” said Heskey. “He came back from it and the other strikers were doing so well, you couldn’t fit him in.
“But the great thing about him is, he went away, found a club where he could play regular football knowing he would score goals.
“He backs his ability to go and score goals and he seemed to be at ease with leaving Liverpool.
“He had a great partnership with Che Adams at Southampton, the link-up play them two had was frightening.
“But what he’s showing now is that it wasn’t just about the partnership, he can play in any system and in any team.”
Villa’s Early-Season Form
Villa have started in an indifferent fashion to the league season, with one win, one draw and two defeats from their first four games, although one loss was against Champions League holders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The club are in a bit of a transitional phase having sold star player Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100m in the summer, but Heskey has already seen enough to be convinced that Villa will be fine without their former talisman.
“It’s life after Jack and I think they’ve done well all things considered,” he said.
“You can sulk and cry about these things but I think they’ve just got on with it, people have stepped up to the plate. They’ve got international players as well, good players.
“A lot of Villa’s game-play was about giving it to Jack and letting him work his wonders. Now they have to figure out how to do things differently and I think Dean Smith has done a fantastic job in galvanising them and coming up with another strategy.”
Villa face in-form Everton at Villa Park in the Premier League this weekend and the bookmakers are siding with the hosts, with Ladbrokes going 7/5 on a home win, with the Toffees priced up at 2/1.
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