Football

Top 10: One-man teams

Bale has scored 30 per cent of Tottenham's league goals (©Getty Images)
Bale has scored 30 per cent of Tottenham's league goals (©Getty Images).

It's a familiar refrain heard in football conversations around the world - 'you're just a one-man team!'

In many ways it's a back-handed compliment - a recognition on the part of a rival that your team has a great player. Often it's provoked out of some kind of latent jealousy. But, then again, often it's true.

Gareth Bale's two goals for Spurs on Thursday night mean that the Welshman has now scored Tottenham's last six goals in all competitions - no other Spurs player has scored in 392 minutes of action. If a dictionary definition of a one-man team was needed, this would be it.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being a one-man team, let's make that clear from the off. As we shall we, some of the best teams in the world overly-rely on certain players to win them games.

Because, at the end of the day, being a one-man team ultimately means you're winning games. You may lean heavily upon one player, but that player is scoring the goals, and your team is moving up the table.

So, before you throw your arms up and cry foul, remember this little caveat.

Now, how has this little list come about? Well, we're concerning ourselves with Europe's top five leagues here, and we're only going to be looking at league action - none of that fluffy European Cup stuff.

With thanks to whoscored.com, we'll look at the percentage of each team's goals scored by a certain player - that team's highest scorer. The higher the percentage, the more that team is a one-man club. 

Here we go, here is your top 10...

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Paris St-Germain | 21 goals from 45 | 47% of PSG's goals 

2. Lionel Messi - Barcelona | 35 goals from 78 | 45% of Barca's goals

3. Christian Benteke - Aston Villa | 11 goals from 25 | 44%

4. Radamel Falcao - Atletico Madrid | 19 goals from 44 | 43%

5. Adam Szalai - FSV Mainz | 12 goals from 28 | 43%

6. Vedad Ibisevic - Stuttgart | 10 goals from 23 | 43%

7. Antonio di Natale - Udinese | 14 goals from 35 | 40%

8. Luis Suarez - Liverpool | 17 goals from 44 | 39%

9. Michu - Swansea | 15 goals from 38 | 39%

10. Demba Ba - Chelsea/Newcastle | 13 goals from 34 | 38%

By way of comparison, let's look at the performances of some of the other Premier League stars. 

Manchester United star Robin Van Persie has often been called "the difference" in the Premier League title race this season, and he leads the league with 19 goals.

But Manchester United are also the Premier League's highest scorers with 62 - which means Van Persie contributes just 31%.

Of course, "the difference" comes back to the Dutchman's ability to win the points in the big games - to score the goals that matter.

His last-minute free-kick against Manchester City earlier this term immediately springs to mind, as does his last second goal against Southampton, sealing his hat-trick and a vital three points.

And what about Gareth Bale? The Welsh winger may have scored all of his side's recent goals, but his goalscoring form has picked up relatively recently - before that, Jermain Defoe took the slack. The former-Saints star has also been thrust into a more prominent central role since Defoe's recent injury and Emmanuel Adebayor's departure for the Africa Cup of Nations.

With these two absent, Bale got hot, and he's been burning ever since. But, over the course of the season, he's contributed 30% of Tottenham's goals, 13 from 44 in total.

Still a huge percentage, but not enough to catapult him into the top 10 in Europe. Compared to the likes of Swansea and Liverpool, Tottenham are not a one-man team.

It's interesting that Edin Dzeko isn't actually too far behind Bale, and yet no-one's calling Manchester City a one-man team. The Bosnian has scored 25% of City's goals this campaign - 12 from 48.

Further down the line you'll fine Theo Walcott and Frank Lampard - each have bagged 22% and 20% of their club's respective goals.

So, with some justification, Arsenal and Chelsea fans could rightly argue Tottenham are a one-man team compared to them, but Spurs could then point to Swansea and Liverpool. 

But, really what does it matter. As long as you keep winning - and Barcelona and Paris St Germain, the two biggest one-man teams in Europe, currently top their domestic tables - you should be more than happy with your one-man team.

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