TOM LOVE (@TomLove_18) has been tasked with tackling the ante-post Top Goalscorer market ahead of the 2019/20 Championship season.
WLB Season Preview 2019/20 | Championship: Top Goalscorer
The Championship’s Top Goalscorer market is always one of great interest. With the money swashing around in England’s second-tier there are plenty of notable names at the top of the betting.
Serbian striker Aleksander Mitrovic heads the market at quotes as short as 5/1 in places. Although the temperamental front man has previous with Fulham in this division, the odds on offer are far from tempting.
The clear second favourite is the man who finished third in last year’s heat and that is Brentford hot-shot Neal Maupay. Some would argue Maupay should’ve notched even more with the chances on offer in 2018/19 but he is excellent at getting in the right positions to score. There have been plenty of question marks over the future of the former St Etienne striker and that unknown element also puts me off. If Maupay doesn’t go this summer then he could well do in January.
Every Top Goalscorer candidate aside from the front two are 16/1 or lager and and that’s where I’ll start my search for value.
Britt Assombalonga (20/1 each-way Ladbrokes)
There’s no more Tony Pulis at Middlesbrough. Boro fans, rejoice!
Under the uber pragmatic Welshman the Teesiders were far from anyone’s thinking when it came to any form of goals-based bets. Boro sacrificed ambition in forward areas for a watertight defence, and in fairness it worked to some extent. It became tedious though and The Riverside became somewhat of a toxic place to play as a home side.
Influential ex-player Jonathan Woodgate has taken the helm and he’s promised a change in style. Much loved chairman Steve Gibson said that the appointment of Woodgate was “very much aligned to our own, for the club as we look to develop a new identity”.
Middlesbrough are clearly looking to go down the route of a more attractive and attacking way of playing and that will be music to the ears of 2017 club record £15m signing Britt Assombalonga.
Part of the very successful Peterborough recruitment drive, Assombalonga was somewhat held back by the defensive nature of the football for the last couple of seasons but he’s been open and effusive in his praise for the new management team, which includes former Ireland striker Robbie Keane.
Pulis often called Assombalonga out for missing chances but the new gaffer has seen that he may need an arm around the shoulder to get the best out of him. Keane too has been working closely with him on in-game scenarios and finishing, and it can only be to his benefit to learn from someone with the calibre and experience of the former Wolves goal-getter. Woodgate has been reciprocal in the praise saying after his pre-season hat-trick against Salford, “He will score goals for us this year, without a shadow of a doubt”.
Spirits are high and energy has been restored at the North-East outfit and the DR Congo international can play a major part in a fresh-looking team. It says a lot when he wasn’t at his best last season but was still the club’s top scorer with 15 – if he can get another 10 this season he will really push for at least a top four place in the divisional pecking order.
Assombalonga clearly has the attributes and it looks like the team will be built to suit him this term and so, best 20/1 (Ladbrokes) quotes look attractive with the firm paying out four places at a quarter of the odds from an each-way standpoint.
Ollie Watkins (40/1 each-way SkyBet)
Another side fancied to go well this season is Brentford. As mentioned at the top of the piece, their main goalscorer last term was Neal Maupay but he well could be off before the start of the season. If so, I believe the price on second striker Ollie Watkins could come right in, and therefore I’m willing to take a punt on him at an eye-catching 40/1 quote (SkyBet).
I’ve long been an admirer of Watkins, right back to his Exeter days. His last season at the Grecians saw him pick up the EFL Young Player of the Year award in 2017 having notched 16 goals and impressing the Bees renowned scouting department enough to part with £1.8m and take him to Griffin Park.
Brentford usually make signings off all round performance data of players and Watkins obviously fits the bill. He’s often been played as a number 10 or a winger but he can also play at the top of the pitch – if Maupay does leave it could be a role he slots into.
Watkins loves to get shots off, he’s clever with his movement and his pace, dribbling skills and cool finishing are key components of his game. He’s admitted that he tries to base his game off his idol Thierry Henry, driving at defenders and trying to make things happen. He could also be on set-pieces should Maupay depart and penalties have to come into the thinking when looking at the Top Goalscorer market.
Brentford have long been the data darlings of the EFL, they create copious amounts of presentable chances and their Expected Goals (xG) figures put other big clubs to shame. The Bees’ attacking philosophy has remained a constant since Matthew Benham took over the club and former assistant Thomas Frank was a natural candidate to succeed Dean Smith.
The West Londoners have been smashed-in all summer in the promotion-based markets after some excellent additions and it could be a huge season for the well-thought-of Watkins.
Kieffer Moore (66/1 each-way Coral)
Another longshot that I think could give you a run for your money is the man who had the best minutes-to-goals ratio in League One last season, Barnsley’s Kieffer Moore (66/1 Coral).
The 26-year-old’s record of 17 goals in 2340 minutes was outstanding – that’s a goal every 138 minutes. Unfortunately for him, an injury in February ruled him out of the rest of the campaign, otherwise the Torquay-born striker would’ve likely taken the Top Goalscorer gone in the third-tier.
Being a Bradford fan, I was lucky enough to see quite a bit of League One and Barnsley, along with Luton, were miles ahead of the rest and the football German gaffer Daniel Stendel plays is based on attacking and creating good goalscoring opportunities – Moore was the main beneficiary of that.
Standing at 6ft 5’ he’s unsurprisingly a huge threat in the air but that shouldn’t take away from his quality with the ball at his feet, or his clever movement inside the box to get into excellent positions.
Many are expecting the Tykes to struggle this year but I’m a bit more optimistic. True, they have lost centre-halves Liam Lindsay and Ethan Pinnock but their recruitment in the past few years puts blind hope into the brain. What's more, they’ve players that can make the step up to the second-tier such as Kenny Dougall and Cameron McGeehab.
Luke Thomas is another impressive pick up after a strong campaign with Coventry last term, whilst their full-backs Dimitri Cavare and Daniel Pinillos like to get forward and can help contribute goalscoring opportunities for Moore.
When I was first doing research for this market, Moore was available at a triple-figure price with Bet365, which was simply too big. Unfortunately, he’s been cut to 50/1 in most places, however there’s still some 66/1 (Coral) on the former Ipswich man, and that looks worth bit of each-way interest, in my eyes.