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Leighton Baines' astounding offensive exploits have been overlooked

When it comes to streaks in football, very few tend to be overlooked nowadays, be it from a team or individual's perspective.

The two that perhaps stand out in the Premier League right now involve goal-scoring exploits. West Ham's Diafra Sakho has scored in each of his six league starts this season while Aston Villa, as a collective, have failed to score in five. Elsewhere in Europe, see Cristiano Ronaldo, who now scores in every game that he plays.

It's goal-scoring, or a lack thereof in the case of Paul Lambert's side, that will always attract the most interest. Often equally important, however, is the final ball that has led to a goal, and at present, Leighton Baines' contribution of late has perhaps gone a little unnoticed.

The left-back, having laid on an assist for Samuel Eto'o's opener at Turf Moor last weekend, has now directly contributed to 10 of Everton's last 20 goals across the league and in Europe, over 10 appearances. You might not be surprised to hear of such figures for a striker or attacking midfielder but Baines is a defender and in turn those numbers are nothing short of remarkable.

WhoScored.com look at the stats that prove just how impressive the England international has been since a move to Merseyside.

It's true that the full-back has always been an integral player to the Toffees' attacking forays but his crossing game has been tempered to a degree under Roberto Martinez, with the Spaniard preferring a more balanced approach that allows Seamus Coleman to prove just as effective from an attacking sense from the opposite flank.

Under Moyes, Everton were often extremely lopsided, constantly looking to Baines to produce the sort of delivery that he'd become renowned for following a move from Wigan. It's not to say the tactic wasn't effective, with the link up between the England man and Steven Pienaar proving a fruitful one, but there's perhaps an argument to be made that Baines was whipping balls into the box too willingly and without a great deal of success.

Over the course of Moyes' final two seasons at the club, Baines attempted a massive 595 crosses in 71 appearances (8.4 per game). In that time he registered a relatively modest seven assists.

Martinez certainly has a different view of how best to play and, it seems, has asked Baines to offer more variety in the final third, now looking for late runners to slide in rather than constantly trying to cross. He's still getting into positions to deliver into the box, evidence by the 44 crosses he's attempted this season, but it's a significant drop to 4.9 per game. He's registered just one fewer league assist (six) in 62 fewer appearances than the aforementioned sample under the former Everton boss.

To look at his statistical strengths according to WhoScored, which include key passes, crossing, passing and dribbling, is effectively to look at a blueprint for the modern-day offensive full-back.

One might suggest that this season's success is purely down to improved finishing from his teammates, but when you consider Romelu Lukaku's struggles in front of goal that theory becomes less supportable. The quality of Baines' final ball is instead improving now that he's picking his moments to cross with more care. It would also be easy to attribute such figures to his set-piece duties, but since the start of the 2009-10 season he's picked up just five assists directly from corners.

Some still question his defensive ability and indeed his international quality, but few defenders in the Premier League era could match his figures when it comes to goal contribution. Over the last six seasons, Baines now has 36 league assists, fewer only than David Silva (41), Wayne Rooney (40) and Steven Gerrard (37). However, when you only take defenders into account, his closest rival, and the man he's replaced in Roy Hodgson's England lineup, Ashley Cole has a full 20 fewer (16).

If Baines can sustain anything close to his current form, then he may be challenging the likes of Silva and Co. at the top of said assist leaderboard before too long. The fact that he's presently anywhere near the top of the pile, let alone fourth, remains an unbelievable achievement for a player of his position.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.