When Romelu Lukaku scored in the first half on Saturday against West Ham United, he vaulted himself all alone into second in league goals. Jamie Vardy leads with 19, Rom has 18, Harry Kane is third with 17, Sergio Aguero fourth with 16 and Riyad Mahrez has 15.
Despite a slew of preseason factors indicating that Lukaku would figure to be among the Premier League's top scorers, his season hasn't quite gotten the attention you'd think for a young player who seems a near-lock to put up his first 20-goal campaign.
Maybe it's because Everton is mid-table in a crowded table and they can be lost in the shuffle. Maybe it's because the Toffees score a lot, thus Lukaku hasn't accounted for the percentage of goals of say, Odion Ighalo or Harry Kane. Or maybe it's simply because of Leicester City. You know, the club that had 5,000 to 1 preseason title odds who are now in first and boast not one, but two Player of the Year favorites.
So as we start with our reasons of why Lukaku will win the Golden Boot and why everyone else won't, let's start by putting the microscope on the Foxes. By now, we know they can handle it.
The title chase will hinder Mahrez, Vardy's goals
At some point, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri will start to have one eye on the calendar. And given that the other top title challengers are all prone to having days like this past Wednesday, Leicester may find itself playing several late-April and May fixtures protecting one-goal leads or conceding the occasional goalless draw.
Obviously this will hurt Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, who both raced up the scorer rankings thanks to a slew of three-goal performances in October, November and December. While Mahrez is your current Player of the Year with 14 goals and 11 assists, Vardy is the Golden Boot favorite with a league-leading 19 already to his credit. While it's scary to think where Vardy could be if he took Leicester's penalties in the first half of the year, conventional wisdom points to a drop off for the Foxes No. 9.
Mahrez will either keep scoring or get injured, either of which would limit Vardy's goal output. This, combined with a likely more conservative Leicester will hinder Vardy from here on out.
Streaky Kane is due for a slump
Despite Harry Kane, currently with 17 goals, being a safe choice to be the top English goalscorer for the next five-plus years, his month-to-month consistency wavers. After coming out of nowhere in early 2015 to win two straight Player of the Month awards, Kane dropped off a bit to close out last season.
This lack of scoring from curiously continued into this season, despite Kane looking much improved all-around. While he and the Spurs got back on track as the weather cooled down, it's worth pointing out that any continued scoring form we see from Kane would easily be the longest such stretch of his young career.
Not since late-90s Michael Owen has an English young player come to prominence and then within two years, won a Golden Boot. This would be the case if Kane won it, but unfortunately, he'll have to wait at least a year to bring White Hart Lane its second Golden Boot in the Premier League.
It's simply Lukaku's time
At just 22, Lukaku has nearly 150 games of league experience under his belt spread across three clubs. In the same season in which he's developed into one of Europe's complete strikers, he's also gotten to play next to his best supporting cast. With the likes of Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu in support, Everton currently has in place one of the best young attacking trios in the Premier League.
The recent Golden Boot winners all had to earn a seat at the table before taking the trophy. The likes of Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero all were well-established, but had to find the right mix of teammates, health and circumstance before being the top scorer.
Lukaku is no different. He and his teammates have developed the needed chemistry and have remained healthy enough to continue to produce goals. And the circumstance? Well the circumstance is that a talented young player finally has enough experience to consistently shred defenses.
He has 18 goals. He's only netted one penalty. He plays for a team that has no trouble scoring. What more is there to argue in favor of Lukaku? Well, there is one thing. I'm embarrassed I didn't mention it sooner.
Everton still have a game in hand.