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Can punters follow Fergie's flutter?

Posted 7th July 2009

Michael Owen has been given another chance to win his first Premier League winner's medal and also has the opportunity to become the outright top scorer in a top flight season for the first time. As last chances go, signing for Manchester United as they bid to win a fourth consecutive league title is not a bad one.

Owen is not currently favoured by punters in the 2009/10 Premier League top scorers' market, trading as fifth favourite. There are a number of reasons for this, although his terrible recent injury record is perhaps the principal factor in avoiding England's fourth-highest goalscorer.

There are plenty more summer signings still to come, not only at Manchester United, where Owen and Antonio Valencia are surely not the only replacements for Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo, but at the other likely title challengers.

Chelsea are particularly likely to recruit another striker and although punters might be tempted to wait until the market develops, early on might be the best time to get value from their favoured player.

Owen's best goal return from a Premier League season is 18, a tally he managed twice during his most productive years at Liverpool in 1997/98 and 1998/1999. On both occasions he shared the top scorer honours with two other players. 18 is the lowest number of goals in a season recorded by Premier League topscorers.

A Manchester United striker has topped the goalscoring charts just once in the last six seasons Ronaldo in 2007/08 and only three times in the 17-year history of the Premier League. The Red Devils' ability to score from all areas of the team has a direct effect on the output of their leading striker.

Owen will nonetheless be hard to ignore, as he still found the net regularly during his miserable time at a Newcastle United that was in steep decline. Sustained time on the pitch cannot be guaranteed, but it is a safe bet that Owen will find the net with regularity when he is called upon.