So Who Is A One-Man Team?


Which clubs rely on a single player the most? Which clubs are the proverbial one-man team? Today on the blog Matt Swan takes a look at the players that are most influential for their clubs this season.


Whenever a player is performing well and scoring regularly for their team, it is inevitable that the clichéd ‘one man team’ will be touted around.

Last season it could be argued that Robin Van Persie dragged Arsenal to a third placed finish and fired them almost single handedly into the Champions League. This season his goals have pretty much led Manchester United to the title with 11 games still remaining.

As Gareth Bale capped another excellent performance on Monday night by securing the 3 points at the death with a sublime finish, it is no surprise to see Tottenham labelled as such. In this post I look at the teams that are at the top of the table and how reliant they are on one key player in terms of their contribution to the total team goals. In addition, it looks at the points per game achieved with these players playing vs. when they have been unavailable for their respective teams.

Despite Liverpool not currently being in the running for the top 4, they have been included as of all the teams in the Premier League this season, they are the most reliant on an individual player. Last season’s ‘one man team’ has also been included for comparison purposes.

 BaleAgueroMataWalcottSuarezRvP (2011/2012)
Goals 15 9 10 11 18 30
Assists 1 2 9 8 4 9
Team Goals 47 50 55 52 49 74
% of Goal Involvement 34.04% 22.00% 34.55% 36.54% 44.90% 52.70%
Chances Created 56 31 64 28 78 92
Team Chances Created 384 359 242 275 396 504
% of Team Chances 14.58% 8.64% 26.45% 10.18% 19.70% 18.25%
Points per Game With 1.95 2.10 1.88 1.70 1.40 1.84
Points per Game Without 1.50 2.00 1.00 1.75 3.00 NA

Having scored 6 of Tottenham’s last 7 Premier League goals, it is evident that Gareth Bale is being heavily relied upon. Before Gylfi Sigurdsson scored on Monday night you would need to go back to January 20th for the last time another player has scored a league goal for Tottenham – when Clint Dempsey scored a last minute equaliser against Manchester United. However, having only assisted once so far this season, his tally of involvement in goals this year stands at 16 – 34.04% of the teams total goals.

If we compare this with other teams, it makes interesting reading. Robin Van Persie is the league’s leading scorer having also led the way last season. In addition, he has also assisted 9 goals for his team mates meaning he has been directly responsible for 40.63% of Manchester United’s total goals. The only player in this comparison that has been more heavily relied upon is Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. He has been directly involved in 44.90% of their goals. Having signed Daniel Sturridge in January, the burden on Suarez has been lifted somewhat but he is still vital to the team.

It is also interesting to look at the percentage of a team’s chances that has been created by an individual. Mata leads the way with 26.45% followed by Suarez with 19.7%. Manchester City have faltered this season and last year’s talisman Sergio Aguero has failed to hit the heights of his previous campaign. The goal scoring burden and chance creation has been spread around and this term Aguero has been responsible for just 22% of City’s goals – the lowest of all the players examined.

Points Won

It has also been possible to look at the points per game with and without these key players. Bale has missed 4 games for Spurs this year and they have managed 1.95 points per game with but only 1.5 points per game without. This may well highlight the importance of Bale but the points per game with/without Dembele demonstrates his importance to the team even more with 2.35 points per game with vs. just 0.57 without.

Liverpool’s stats with Suarez are slightly skewed as they won the only game he has missed this season but there is no denying his importance to the side.

Looking at Van Persie’s stats from last season, of all the players examined he was by far the most important to his team. He contributed directly to 52.7% of goals and was ever present (1 appearance as sub) to spearhead Arsenal’s charge to 3rd place.

We also see the importance of players like Mata, Chelsea are slightly more reliant on him to directly contribute to goals than Spurs are with Bale but are not labelled in the same way. There are clearly a lot more factors that need to be taken into consideration (such as timing of goals, whether they directly impacted on securing points etc) when assessing if a team is in fact a ‘one man team’ but these stats provide some interesting observations. As we approach the defining part of the season, I’m sure we’ll see how important these players prove to the league positions in May.



Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_swan40

I am a lifelong Spurs fan and season ticket holder. Sucked in by Lineker and Gaza and haven't looked back since. After suffering years of mid-table mediocrity, I am enjoying being in the battle for 4th place. Enjoy having a bet and currently addicted to Betfair!