Sadio Mane would top the Premier League Golden Boot ranks if penalties didn't count

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League

Where would Liverpool be without Sadio Mane's goals right now?

Amongst the wobbles in their challenge for the Premier League recently, their Senegalese winger has been on top form and his goals have been crucial in keeping pace with Manchester City.

Before the 4-3 win over Crystal Palace, you would be mistaken for thinking Mane was having an average season but eight goals in nine games has dispelled any such suggestions.

Removing his goals from the equation would see Liverpool draw with Palace and Burnely, while suffering shock defeats at the hands of Leicester and West Ham.

His impressive showings have allowed for Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah - who have scored fewer goals combined in the same timeframe - to address their springtime stagnation.

Mane's brilliant recent form

In fact, Mane has been so brilliant in recent weeks that he has thrust himself right into the Golden Boot standings, despite being an outside contender at the start of the season.

Not only that, but the point was made over the weekend that nobody has scored more Premier League goals from open play this season than Mane (16).

It certainly gets the cogs turning and makes you wonder: how would the Golden Boot race look if penalties didn't count?

Liverpool FC v Watford FC - Premier League

Golden Boot rankings without penalties

Ok, so penalties still need to be scored and some of the greatest players have missed from the spot, but forwards who aren't the designated taker are certainly at a disadvantage.

And for the most part, scoring from open play is a much harder task than a free, albeit often pressurised, shot at the goalkeeper from 12 yards.

All that considered, we've decided to adjust the rankings of the Premier League's top scorers by taking the number of penalties they've scored away from their overall total.

It makes for interesting reading - so take a look here:

=1. Sadio Mane - 16 goals 

=1. Sergio Aguero - 16 goals

3. Raheem Sterling - 15 goals

=4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 14 goals

=4. Mohamed Salah - 14 goals

6. Harry Kane - 13 goals

7. Romelu Lukaku - 12 goals

=9. Alexandre Lacazette - 11 goals

=9. Son Heung-Min - 11 goals

=9. Richarlison - 11 goals

Goodbye to Roberto Firmino, Callum Wilson, Paul Pogba and Jamie Vardy!

However, perhaps the biggest loser is actually Eden Hazard who tumbles from seventh in the rankings to a full two goals outside of the top ten.

And then there's players like Luka Milivojevic who - despite not featuring in the Golden Boot race - would lose eight of their nine goals under the new regulations. 

Manchester City v West Ham United - Premier League

It's interesting to see Aguero still clinging on to top spot, saved by the fact he's only converted penalties against West Ham and Chelsea, while Aubameyang and Salah suffer more.

Sterling arguably profits the most and reiterates exactly why he's one of the main contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Overall, though, you've got to applaud Mane for leading the way.

Who do you think will win the Golden Boot this season? Have your say in the comments section below.

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