Sunderland's Biggest Attacking Contributors, Statistically

James McClean. New contract, big impact.

Goals aren't everything some say, but they are quite important if you want to win football matches if you think about it for a nanosecond. Whether you're scoring them or creating them, it doesn't really matter so long as you're making a significant contribution to the team.

Hence why I've decided to take a look at who on the team is making the biggest contributions, statistically, to our goals tally in the league this season.

Using the measurable stats of goals and assists, to see which of our attacking players have made the most telling difference. This could work out quite obvious, or throw up some surprises. You'll have to read on and find out...

7. Craig Gardner - 7.69% Contribution

This was my main surprise. Gardner has improved his all round play, even winning Player Of The Month on this site not too long ago, but the stats aren't there to back things up which raises a mild alarm. Gardner has so far struck three goals, and contributed no assists, meaning he has only had an involvement in 7.69% of our goals this season so far. Another quite alarming stat on Gardner is the fact that he's taken the third highest amount of shots for the lads this season, scoring with only 1 in 13 shots at goal.

6. David Vaughan - 7.69% Contribution

Neck and neck with Gardner, but spreading himself around slightly more in that two goals and one assist make up his 7.69% contribution to the teams tally of goals. Unlike Gardner however, Vaughan has taken significantly less shots to score the goals, with just 16 all season, while the former Blackpool midfielder also has a higher pass completion percentage (85% vs 75.8%).

5. Kieran Richardson - 10.25% Contribution

Surprisingly for some, our left-back, Kieran Richardson has had a greater impact than two of the more prominent midfielders at the club by nearly 3%. Richardson has been very solid defensively, and this goes to further show he's one of the most important fixtures in the side. The ex-Manchester United man has a pair of goals and a pair of assists to his name so far, making a solid contribution to the side.

4. James McClean - 15.38% Contribution

We've witnessed McClean go from an unheard of punt to crucial element of the side and enjoyed every moment of it. The Irishman has shown enough ability, and has the stats to prove it that his recent contract extension was well worth it. McClean has 4 goals and 2 assists so far this season, leaving him with a healthy 15.38% contribution to the sides goals total. McClean's goal scoring has also been impressive, as those 4 goals come from a meager 21 shots.

3. Sebastian Larsson - 17.94% Contribution

Larsson has been a revelation since he arrived the club from Birmingham City this summer, and despite being slightly off the boil of late, he's still one of the highest contributors to the teams chance of winning. The Swede's 5 goals from 29 shots on goal is among the best in the team, and along with McClean is the best among players who have started regularly for the club. Larsson also has two assists, beaten only by the two players who follow...

2. Nicklas Bendtner - 25.64% Contribution

Bendtner's been in brilliant form lately, and it's been backed up by the numbers as the on loan striker has had a hand in over a quarter of our goals this season. Bendtner has scored 6 goals so far, his highest league total since the 2008/09 season in which he scored 9 league goals for Arsenal. Bendtner has also been helping his team mates with assists, nabbing 4 so far. Bendtner is currently our second highest goalscorer and creator. With rumors that he could leave Arsenal in the summer for £4m, we'd be foolish not to make a move. Replacing a quarter of the teams attacking prowess will be a tall order if we don't.

1. Stephane Sessegnon - 35.80% Contribution

Wow, who saw this one coming eh? Only everyone in the entire world I think. Yes, Stephane Sessegnon is quite good at the old footballing. To get the nit-picking out the way immediately, it could be better too for the man from Benin, as despite leading the team with 7 goals, he's had significantly more shots than anyone with 70. You don't need to be a mathematician to work out that's a goal every 10 shots.

Not that we're faulting him here at all, as if anything this underlines how important Sessegnon is to the club, and why we must do everything in our power to keep him at the club long-term, as over 35% of our goal scoring threat is a huge number, bettered only at their relative clubs by the likes of Demba Ba, Robin Van Persie and Clint Dempsey. Think how those sides would fall apart if their main man left, the same could be said of us.

In addition Sess leads the way in assists too, with 7 so far this season. The league's highest is only 12 (David Silva), and there's plenty of games to go.

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So what have we learned from all this? Well perhaps only that Craig Gardner isn't making a particularly significant impact on the team as we might have hoped. As for the rest, most of us knew that McClean, Larsson, Sessegnon and Bendtner was the favoured front four, but with doubts over the two in the middle's long term future, for me, it's crucial we keep a hold of all four of them if we're to be a European contender next season.

Stats correct on 25/03/12, supplied by WhoScored.com

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