Gayle blowing away his rivals as leading marksman
Dwight Gayle is doing more than anybody to take Newcastle back to the Premier League, scoring 17 goals in 18 matches, and he is just 2-5 to finish the Sky Bet Championship season as the leading marksman.
Dropping down to the second tier was a gamble for Gayle, who had endured three frustrating seasons at Crystal Palace where he was unable to command a regular first-team place.
Gayle’s goal threat diminished at Selhurst Park where he scored seven league goals in 2013-14, five in 2014-15 and just three in 2015-16, so the Eagles might have thought they were getting a good deal in selling him to Newcastle for £10m last summer.
But that fee now looks like money well spent with Gayle top of the Championship scoring charts, three ahead of his closest challenger Glenn Murray, who has scored 14 goals in 22 appearances since joining Brighton on a season-long loan from Bournemouth.
Neither man looks like going anywhere in January and it would be a surprise if any other player was able to climb out of the pack and top the scoring charts.
Scott Hogan has done extremely well for mid-table Brentford, scoring 13 goals, and he gets a 10-1 quote. However, Hogan’s career has been blighted by injuries and he has never played more than 33 league games in a single Football League season.
Murray – advised pre-season at 25-1 – looks the only man who can stop Gayle and takes a lot of confidence into the busy festive period after scoring eight goals in his last eight games.
Tammy Abraham had looked a possible challenger after scoring seven goals in his first nine league games on loan at Bristol City from Chelsea but he has suffered a dip in performance, notching just twice in the last 11 matches.
Jonathan Kodjia – the man who Abraham replaced at Ashton Gate – has started netting more regularly for Aston Villa but is on only eight goals, nine behind the leader.
The Ivory Coast international – tipped ante-post at 33-1 – should have a more productive second half of the season and may earn the place money for his backers.