Tottenham Hotspur has played 12 matches thus far this season, winning 9, drawing 1, and losing 2. Ledley King has ushered the Spurs defense through 8 of those games, with one other in which he was taken off after the half-hour mark with an injury. For the 8 matches King has played the full (or virtually full) 90 minutes, Tottenham have won all 8. For the one he was taken off after 30 minutes, Spurs drew (Newcastle away). For the other 3 in which King hasn’t played, Spurs have won 1 (against 20th place Blackburn), and lost the other 2.
For even greater clarification of how much a difference Spurs’ results are with King in the squad, here’s a table:
It’s an astounding difference. Spurs have only won 2 of their last 14 matches in which King doesn’t play at least 80 minutes, and ALL of the last 11 in which he has. Argue all you want about the other players in the Spurs squad, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning the impact new signings Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker have had (they have yet to lose a league match for Spurs either), but you can at least replace Adebayor and Parker with Jermain Defoe and Sandro and still achieve comparable results. If Spurs lose Ledley King for long periods as they have in years past, while one might think William Gallas and Michael Dawson are adequate replacements, the statistics simply don’t show them at the same level (maybe Gallas a few years ago, but not now). You can see his value from quotes from the likes of Thierry Henry, who during his Arsenal days called King, “the best defender in Europe”, as well as Fabio Capello picking him for his England World Cup squad (and starting the first match to boot) even with his injury risks.
I’d argue that no other single player means as much to his team in the Premier League than King does to Tottenham. I’m sure many will argue Robin van Persie means more to Arsenal’s hopes this season, and they may be right. But van Persie’s current form is out of this world compared to what he’s done in years previous, while King, in the position he plays, is as consistent as they come, and doesn’t suffer from loss of form, just fitness.
What do you think? Who do you think is the most valuable player in the Premier League?