Gareth Bale making hay in the Premier League after finally hitting form
Gareth Bale’s return to form and fitness at Tottenham has made him the Premier League’s most effective player in his limited playing time.
The Wales winger struggled for playing time after returning to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid, with Bale himself admitting he has taken longer than he would have liked to reach top form.
But his goals and assists tally now averages more than one per 90 minutes, the best rate in the league, while his Spurs team-mates Harry Kane and Son Heung-min also rate highly.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what else the figures can tell us.
Bale making hay
Recent doubles against Burnley and Crystal Palace took Bale to five goals in the Premier League this season, with a pair of assists along the way as he gels with Kane and Son in a fearsome front line.
His wait to build up fitness means he has still played only 501 minutes of league football since returning to north London, giving him an average of 1.26 goals or assists per 90 minutes.
That is the most for any player with at least five goals and assists combined – and the rest of the top five also makes pleasant reading for Spurs…
Kane and Son shine on
England captain Kane is the only other player above one per game in the chart on 1.20 – he lies one goal behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot on 16, and leads the league with 13 assists.
Two of those were for Bale on Sunday but many have been for Son, whose assist for Kane’s second against Palace saw the pair break a Premier League record with 14 direct goal combinations – either Son assisting Kane or vice versa – this season.
That passed the mark of 13 set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in Blackburn’s title-winning season of 1994-95.
Son himself ranks fifth with 0.85 goals and assists per 90 while he and Kane remain the most prolific Premier League partnership ever in terms of combined goals per 90 minutes on the field together.
They average 1.26 between them while the other active partnerships on the list – Salah and Sadio Mane, and Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling – have stagnated recently due to Aguero’s prolonged absence and Liverpool’s poor form.
Salah stands alone as City sparkle
Salah’s own goalscoring form has largely held up this season, though his current four-game drought in the league shows even he is not completely immune to Liverpool’s slump.
He has added three assists to his league-leading 17 goals for a 0.80 per 90 combined total, ranking sixth in the league, but is the Reds’ only representative in the top 10.
Kevin De Bruyne’s brace in Manchester City’s win over Southampton on Wednesday left him only just behind in sixth, while a pair of assists helped Phil Foden break into the top 10. The night’s other goalscorers Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan also make the top 20.
Lingard measures up to United colleagues
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes ranks third at 0.99 goals and assists per 90, with 16 goals and 10 assists, but Jesse Lingard’s form since leaving Old Trafford on loan has also been eye-catching.
Lingard has four goals and an assist in only 525 minutes for his temporary employers West Ham, a similar short-term impact to Bale in recent weeks.
United have another representative, Edinson Cavani, at number eight in a top 10 filled out by Newcastle’s injured striker Callum Wilson at nine, with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish just outside.