Cole Palmer: 5 Clubs That Were Over Reliant on One Player As Arsenal Thrash Chelsea

Cole Palmer: 5 Clubs That Were Over Reliant on One Player As Arsenal Thrash Chelsea

Martin Moses
updated at April 24, 2024 at 9:44 AM
In this article:
Cole Palmer logo
C. Palmer
Chelsea logoMEngland logo
Cristiano Ronaldo logo
C. Ronaldo
Al Nassr FC logoFPortugal logo
Lionel Messi logo
Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
Robert Lewandowski logo
FC Barcelona logoFPoland logo
Karim Benzema logo
Al-Ittihad Club logoFFrance logo
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior logo
Al-Hilal Saudi FC logoFBrazil logo
  • Cole Palmer's importance to Chelsea this season cannot be overstated
  • The forward's absence was felt in the 5-0 defeat to Arsenal on April 23
  • Sports Brief looks at other clubs that were overly reliant on one player

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Football is often a team sport, but many times, stars rise within a team and dictate everything a club does.

It can be a case of said player missing out on a game with an injury or suspension and the club massively struggling to replicate the good performances.

Mauricio Pochettino's plea to Chelsea players to prove to the world they were not 'Cole Palmer FC' fell on deaf ears as they failed to spark in North London.

Cole Palmer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Chelsea, Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema
Cole Palmer missed Chelsea's crushing defeat against Arsenal on April 23, 2024, due to illness. Photo by James Gill - Danehouse.
Source: Getty Images

The Blues were beaten 5-0 by Arsenal to put a massive dent in their already faint hopes for European football next season.

That Palmer has been instrumental for Chelsea this season goes without saying. The 21-year-old, who was roped in from Manchester City, has already nailed down the Young Player of the Season award and might as well pull some weight in the Player of the Season debate.

Sky Bet reports that without his 29 goal involvements in the league, the Blues would be firmly in the relegation place. Against Arsenal, Pochettino's side failed to break down the hosts with their star player missing out due to illness.

Clubs that were too over-reliant on one player

But having a player hog all the headlines in a particular club isn't something new. Apart from Palmer, Sports Brief looks at other clubs that were too dependent on one player.

1. Brazil on Neymar - 2014 World Cup

Expectation was rife among Brazilian folklore that the revered national team would win a record-extending sixth World Cup trophy when they hosted the tournament in 2014.

With a star-studded squad led by the young and daring Neymar, the South Americans were confident. He bagged a brace in the opening game against Croatia before adding two more goals in the last group game against Cameroon.

Neymar scored the winning penalty against Chile in the Round of 16, sending a jubilant nation to the quarter-finals against Colombia.

The then-Barcelona star assisted Thiago Silva's opening goal en route to a 2-1 win, but he never finished that game. Disaster struck towards the end when Juan Zuniga's knee to his back left him with a fractured vertebra.

He was ruled out of the rest of the tournament, and Brazil went on to record its worst-ever football defeat when they were beaten 7-1 by Germany in the semis. The Samba Boys didn't recover either for the third-place play-off, with the Dutch beating them 3-0.

2. Bayern Munich on Robert Lewandowski -2021

Bayern Munich were keen on winning back-to-back Champions League titles after beating PSG in the revamped 2020 edition.

They were drawn against the French giants in the quarter-finals of the 2021 campaign, but they unfortunately lost their top marksman, Robert Lewandoski, to injury. Lewa's CV at Bayern Munich requires no re-introduction.

The Polish forward was averaging close to 1.5 goals per game. The Bavarian giants struggled to find a way past PSG, with the Qatar-backed side eventually getting revenge.

A fit Lewandowski for that fixture would have probably changed the narrative of that tie.

3. Real Madrid on Karim Benzema - 2021/2022

After staying in Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow for a long time, Karim Benzema was forced to come to the fore for Real Madrid and become the main man. High-profile arrivals like Eden Hazard and Vinicius Junior were yet to get it going.

The Frenchman recorded his best-ever season for Los Blancos in the 2021/2022 season, playing an integral part in every trophy they won that season.

Benzema will be remembered for his Champions League comebacks against PSG and Chelsea and the 39-goal involvements in La Liga.

There was little doubt he deserved the Ballon d'Or that season.

4. Manchester United on Cristiano Ronaldo - 2021/2022

Cristiano Ronaldo's second spell at Manchester United might have ended sourly, but not many can deny the impact he had in his first season.

Despite the Red Devils' all-round poor performance that led to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking, Ronaldo was still levels above his teammates and it could have been worse without his goals.

Only two people outscored him in the league. He also came up with crucial goals against Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League and a brace in a must-win game against Tottenham Hotspur.

5. Lionel Messi

You know the script: where Ronaldo is, Messi is close.

However, it is hard to pinpoint the one specific time a team was overly reliant on the diminutive Argentine - it has been the story of his career.

At the moment, Inter Miami seemingly don't know how to score or create goals when their captain is not on the pitch. The Herons' record without the 36-year-old is a sorry one. Diario AS puts it at a 77.8% win percentage when Messi plays and only 12.5% when he doesn't.

At Barcelona, Messi was always the go-to guy despite the club having other star-studded players in the squad. La Blaugrana struggled to make it to the latter stages of the Champions League when he left in 2021.

At Argentina, everything was tailored to make him shine. The system was designed for him to excel, and when he failed to do so, as in the numerous Copa America heartbreaks, the team crumbled.

Emi Martinez deserves a lot of praise for the 2022 World Cup win, but it still required Messi's brilliance to drag them through the competition.

Pochettino faults Chelsea players for giving up

Sports Brief also reported that Pochettino has slammed Chelsea players for giving up in their 5-0 defeat to Arsenal.

The Blues were trailing by only one goal going into the break but gave in, with the Gunners scoring four more goals.

It was Chelsea's heaviest defeat in all competitions against their London rivals and Poch was an unhappy manager.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)