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Aug 14, 2014

2014-15 Prem Golden Boot contenders

ESPN FC's Paul Mariner disagrees with chief executive Richard Scudamore's belief that the Premier League does not need Luis Suarez.

Despite missing the first five league games of last season Luis Suarez picked up the Premier League Golden Boot at a canter. Having now departed for Barcelona, the race to pick up the accolade in the upcoming campaign looks set to be a far tighter affair.

The Uruguayan's former teammate Daniel Sturridge was his closest challenger last season -- a full 10 behind Suarez (31) -- and is among the favourites to follow in the forward's footsteps. With as many as nine players separated by just six league goals behind last season's winner, the competition should be fierce. WhoScored.com look to the stats of those in the running.

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge, left, and Chelsea's Diego Costa, right, are strong candidates to take home this season's Golden Boot award.

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

Assuming he can steer clear of injury, Sturridge has a great chance of ensuring a Reds player comes out on top in the scoring stakes for the second year running. Considering that he only started 26 times in the league last season, his tally of 21 was hugely impressive. Many suggested that Suarez's goals failed to come when it mattered most, and his tally was significantly boosted by doubles or hat-tricks in convincing wins. The fact that Sturridge actually scored in more games than Suarez (19) -- the most in the league -- certainly helps back up that theory.

Sergio Aguero (Man City)

Many will be backing the Manchester City forward to lead the way this season but much will be dependent on his physical condition. The Argentine struggled with injury at the end of last season, which carried over into the World Cup, and has only started 42 of a possible 76 league matches over the past two seasons. With 29 goals in that time he clearly has the ability to outgun the competition, but Pellegrini may rest Aguero as often as he feels is necessary to keep further injuries at bay.

Robin van Persie (Man United)

WhoScored.com's 2014-2015 top Golden Boot candidates.

United fans are banking on new manager Louis van Gaal to get the best out of compatriot Van Persie once again, but it remains to be seen whether that will be possible if the coach sticks to the formation he has used all summer. The Dutchman did register four goals at the World Cup, but the 3-4-1-2 formation seemed to suit the striker less as the tournament progressed. Fitness is again a concern, with Van Persie's WhoScored.com rating dropping from 7.68 to 7.05 last time around following a top scoring debut season at Old Trafford (26).

Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Perhaps the most likely of the Premier League's new recruits to challenge here, Chelsea will hope that their hunt for a leading man is over following the departure of Didier Drogba (although the Ivorian is back). Diego Costa will ruffle feathers just as Drogba did, probably more so, but if he can keep his head in a league deemed more physical than La Liga, the Spain international could be a big hit. He is the definition of a poacher, with 26 of his 27 goals last season coming from inside the box, and with the added service provided by Cesc Fabregas the recipe for success is there for all to see.

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Can Alexis Sanchez's scoring exploits in La Liga translate to the Premier League?

If Costa is the favourite to hit the top of the goal charts of new arrivals to the league, Alexis Sanchez can't be far behind. Capable of playing wide or as a second striker, the Chilean's figures for Barca last season were pretty spectacular. With 19 goals from just 66 shots, only one player to score more than 15 times across Europe's top 5 leagues boasted a better conversion rate (28.8 percent). With statistically calculated strengths from WhoScored.com of long shots and direct free kicks he should quickly become a fan favourite (if he isn't considered one already).

Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

With his future now resolved, Romelu Lukaku should be more comfortable than ever this season, having had the chance to bed into his surroundings at Everton last year. The Belgian netted 15 league goals for the Toffees last season, and with little competition for places as the lone front man at Goodison, he'll hope to better that tally. Only Suarez and Van Persie have netted more times in the past two Premier League seasons (32) and Lukaku should continue to improve from an impressive 7.29 rating from WhoScored in 2013-14.

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEWS

As we count down to kickoff on Aug. 16, ESPN FC previews all 20 teams in this season's competition. Can Burnley, QPR and Leicester stay up? Will the new signings of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Adam Lallana help usurp Man City's crown? Will Manchester United get back on track under Louis van Gaal?

Wilfried Bony (Swansea)

His future may have been up in the air all summer, but if Wilfried Bony stays put in the Premier League, be it at Swansea or elsewhere, he's a decent long shot for the gong. The Ivorian took time to adapt to the rigours of the league and the step up in class from Eredivisie but proved in the second half of last season that he had done just that. No player has scored more goals in the English top flight in this calendar year ahead of the season (12) and with strengths of finishing, headed attempts and long shots from WhoScored.com, he has all the tools to compete here.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find even more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

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