Danny Ings’ resurgence has been one of the most inspiring subplots this season, with the Southampton man chasing a deserved Golden Boot.
Another impressive performance in Thursday’s 1-1 draw at Everton has sent plaudits coming Danny Ings’ way, and rightly so.
The 27-year-old scored his 19th Premier League goal of the season to continue his pursuit of a Golden Boot. He may be the dark horse in this battle, but by no means out of it. In fact, he’s been the most in-form forward since the restart on four goals in five games alongside Anthony Martial.
Injuries may have plagued his career in the past, but not anymore. Ings has gone through the entire campaign with no fitness issues and is reaping the rewards. His performance at Goodison Park vindicated Southampton’s decision to spend €22m on the injury-troubled star last summer yet again.
The former Liverpool striker continued his fine form by latching on to a misplaced shot from Stuart Armstrong before rolling the ball past Jordan Pickford from right to left and then placing it inside the back of the net in the 31st-minute.
Had it not been for the crossbar and Pickford’s acrobatics, he may have scored again.
And while Richarlison equalised just before the break, it took nothing away from Ings. The striker was lively throughout the match, making some smart plays in the box and creating chances for James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams.
The former Burnley man is delivering on his early promise again after two potentially serious ACL injuries and isn’t done yet.
A deserved England recall and a maiden Golden Boot award could both be on the horizon.
The Dark Horse
Nobody counted Danny Ings as a serious threat for the Golden Boot last August, with most bookmakers not even offering a price for his slim odds. Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the pre-billed favourites.
But the tide has changed drastically in the last 11 months. Kane’s injury woes have left him out of the contention, leaving Jamie Vardy to top the charts ahead of Aubameyang, Salah and, of course, Ings himself.
Any of these four men can win the Golden Boot, as just three goals are all that separate them. With Liverpool already champions, and the relegation fight almost settled, this battle could become the biggest talking point of the final games this season.
No player has scored more non-penalty goals than Danny Ings (19) in the Premier League this season.
In the hunt for the Golden Boot. pic.twitter.com/BiBecvV7Jw
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 9, 2020
And Ings makes a firm case towards his claim for the top-scorers prize. Not only has he scored 19 times in just 34 games for a mid-table outfit, but none of his goals have come from penalties.
According to Statbunker, Vardy has scored four times from the spot. Salah sits just one behind the Leicester City star on three goals. Aubameyang, on the other hand, has taken just one penalty all season, which he scored.
So in hindsight, Ings could be tied with Vardy at the top of the scoring charts had he taken penalties for Southampton. That honour went to Ward-Prowse instead, who missed from the spot against Everton.
Ings also boasts a league-best record of opening the scoreline nine times this season. Aubameyang sits behind in a close second on eight, while Vardy (6) and Salah (5) sit a little further back.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 9, 2020
Another league-best of 11 away goals only strengthens Ings’ case as a worthy Golden Boot recipient.
And aside from a tricky trip to Manchester United on Monday night, Danny should feel relatively confident of scoring in Southampton’s other remaining fixtures against Brighton, Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
The rest of this month should be an interesting one. Can Ings cap off his season with perhaps a deserved Golden Boot? It would certainly be a fitting end to a remarkable comeback.