A goal, an assist, a yellow card, a comedy own goal and three points, it’s fair to say Gareth Bale had an eventful night at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. Having also turned on the style against West Ham United last weekend, Bale looks to be hitting his best form at a crucial time in the season for Tottenham Hotspur as they look to claim a place in the top four by the New Year.
While Andre Villas-Boas’ side ended up on the back foot against Liverpool, Bale was a threat throughout the match, and the fantastic start he and Aaron Lennon gave the side ensured that they held on for a second consecutive home win.
Over those couple of matches, Bale has been completely unplayable at times, and the stats bear that out. The Welshman has scored twice and hit eight shots on target, which doesn’t include the stunning strike that hit the crossbar against West Ham. He has also created seven clear chances for the team, with Lennon converting one of those for the opening goal against Liverpool.
There had previously been a lack of creativity in the Spurs front four at times this season, especially when Mousa Dembele hasn’t been making the play behind them. Bale has never been truly out of form this year, but when he plays like he did against West Ham and Liverpool, you realise exactly what has been missing from his performances.
If afforded a little space, and allowed to get up a head of steam, the Welshman can tear sides apart and win matches for Spurs in ten minutes. I would confess I’ve never been a huge fan of his free kicks, but judging by Wednesday, he seems finally have mastered something close to the swerve and dip that his Ronaldo-esque run up demands.
Villas-Boas still needs to look at how his team defend leads, as they have gone ahead in twelve of their fourteen games this season, but only converted those leads into seven wins. Once again against Liverpool, Spurs sat back too early to try and hold onto the win, and invited more pressure as a result. I would also say Dempsey needed to be withdrawn earlier, not because he was particularly awful, but because an extra body was needed deeper in the midfield to combat Liverpool’s passing game.
With the talent they have in the ranks, Spurs should and will be able to continue to control matches they take the lead in, rather than operating on the counter. Bale and Dembele will be central to this, and if they can become fixtures in the side and maintain their current form, Spurs could easily be sitting in third by January.