Aside from the Hyundai A-League, the race for the Golden Boot is proving to be just as fascinating as we move into the second third of the season.
A logjam is forming at the top, with Melbourne Victory’s master marksman Besart Berisha ahead of the pack after his sensational hat-trick against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.
The Albanian has eight goals to sit one ahead of last season’s winner Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City) and Perth Glory star Andy Keogh on seven.
In a struggling Wellington Phoenix outfit, flying Fijian Roy Krishna has been a shining light with six goals to his name, one more than classy quartet Brendon Santalab, Milos Ninkovic, Marco Rojas and Jamie Maclaren.
The battle for the mantle of the competition’s best goal scorer is proving to be an intriguing one and is sure to heat up even more over the festive period.
Bruno v Bes
As if you needed any more incentive to watch promises to be a massive Melbourne Derby on Saturday night.
And the duel between two of the competition’s most lethal strikers promises to be an intriguing sub-plot to what will be a full-blooded 90 minutes at AAMI Park.
City has dominated this fixture so far this season – beating Victory in both the league and Westfield FFA Cup – but just one point separates them after 10 rounds.
John van ‘t Schip’s men have found a way to keep Berisha quiet in both those clashes but his confidence should be high after his treble against the Wanderers.
Bes is also chasing history, with one goal to take him level with Victory legend Archie Thompson as the Hyundai A-League’s greatest-ever goal-scorer [with 90 goals].
But AAMI Park is a special place for Fornaroli, who averages more than a goal-a-game at the venue. It truly is his playground.
The Uruguayan hasn’t scored in his last two outings in the Hyundai A-League, so Victory be warned: he rarely goes too long without finding the net.
Big fortnight for Keogh and Krishna
The other two players in the top four – Keogh and Krishna – are faced with contrasting opponents in the next two rounds as they stake their claim.
Glory take on the competition’s top two teams over the next fortnight, starting with Sydney FC on Saturday night.
The Sky Blues have conceded just four goals all season meaning the Irishman needs to be at his clinical best.
While a clash with City in Round 12 at AAMI Park will also be challenging, Keogh did score a hat-trick against the same opposition at the same venue earlier this season.
Krishna has scored two thirds of Phoenix’s goals in the 2016/17 Season and in his current form you would expect him to add to that over the next two games.
Wellington hosts the Wanderers on Saturday, who are struggling at the back and have the second-worst defensive record in the competition.
The following week the Phoenix travel to the Hunter for a clash with the Jets, a side Krishna scored a brace against in a 2-0 win just last month.
Is this his opportunity to bang a few more away and keep surging up the goal-scoring standings?
The other contenders
There’s a log-jam of four players with five goals to their name who are in striking distance of the top if they can produce a big few weeks.
Victory’s Kiwi star Rojas has an incredible strike-rate, with his five goals coming from just six appearances. He’s no certainty to return this week due to a hamstring injury.
Santalab should have a point to prove against a rejuvenated Wellington this week after squandering at least three gilt-edged chances against Victory.
Jamie Maclaren scored his first second-half goal of the season in the 4-0 win over Adelaide on Sunday and is well-placed to make a move up the standings before Christmas.
Roar takes on a confidence-hit Mariners side which has conceded seven goals over the last two weeks, before returning to Suncorp to play his favourite opponents the Wanderers on December 23.
The Caltex Socceroo striker has scored eight times in five games for Roar against Western Sydney and if he maintains that strike-rate, he’ll be a big mover.
Sky Blues trio Ninkovic [five], Alex Brosque and Bobo [both four goals] will need to do the business away from home over the next two rounds to make a charge, with trips to Perth and Adelaide for Graham Arnold’s side.
It’s turning into a cracking battle for the Golden Boot for the 2016/17 Season.
Who’s your tip?