World-class Bale saves the day for Spurs again

Posted by Dan Fitch

In this sort of job you can spend a lot of time writing something, only to have its relevancy blown away in an instant.

Earlier this week, I wrote a piece all about Emmanuel Adebayor and what his return would bring to the Tottenham team. That was written under the assumption that the Togo striker would be making an effort to get back to England as quickly as possible.

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Considering that Adebayor is the only senior striker at the club, that would be the responsible thing to do. That would be the action of someone who was respectful of the club that pays his wages.

Then on Thursday the news emerged that Adebayor had still to find his way to an airport. As a result Spurs started Saturday's 2-1 win against Newcastle with Adebayor on the bench and the same issue up front.

Often in these scenarios the issue is scoring the first goal. Tottenham couldn't have enjoyed a better start on that score at White Hart Lane, as Gareth Bale curled in a free-kick.

At this point I and many other supporters hadn't even had time to get inside the stadium. The early kick-off saw scores of Spurs and Newcastle fans trapped outside, stuck in incredibly slow-moving queues.

This isn't the first time this has happened to me. I sense it would gnaw away at some people (the types who get in the stadium an hour before the game). Personally I would be happy to arrive at White Hart Lane every week and find Spurs already 1-0 up. It would certainly save me a lot of worry.

Yet once safely inside and watching the match, I found that Spurs were still facing the same old struggles without a proper striker in the team.

Clint Dempsey tries his best in the position but just doesn't make the sort of runs that a natural striker will. Without that sort of movement and ability to hold up the play, Spurs found that attack after attack broke down. Eventually Newcastle began to get back into the game, and it was no surprise when they equalised through a deflected shot.

I was pleased that Dempsey was picked over disrespectful Adebayor before the game. There was no way that he should have waltzed back into the team. It would have sent a terrible message to everyone in the squad. Especially as Dempsey had managed to get himself back from a midweek game in Honduras.

Halfway through the second-half, though, my moral stance had gone out the window. By this stage I didn't care if Adebayor took to the pitch still wearing flip-flops and pulling a suitcase on wheels. Just as long as he was on the pitch.

When the errant striker did come on for Lewis Holtby, we immediately saw a change in the team. He didn't play particularly well, but Spurs were more dangerous as Adebayor drifted wide, offering more options than static Dempsey.

Perhaps an even more effective substitution was the decision to bring Benoit Assou-Ekotto on for Kyle Naughton (though you could argue that this was a rather baffling selection at left-back in the first place).

With some natural width on the left of the Tottenham defence, Bale was able to position himself in an inside-right position and was a constant menace to the Newcastle defence from that moment.

When the Welshman was put through on goal in the 78th minute, there was never a doubt that he would score. Unfortunately there aren't any other players in the Tottenham squad that you could say the same about.

More spectacular was to come. Bale twice came close to completing a hat-trick. First with a piece of audacious control, followed up by a volleyed shot that was turned over by Tim Krul. Then as he cut inside and unleashed a powerful shot to the opposite corner, that again Krul was equal to.

If either goal had gone in, it would have completed a hat-trick of the highest order. The type Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo regularly score.

Bale is unstoppable right now. He was once again the difference. Make the most of watching him this season and appreciate his every match because, on these sorts of performances, I'm confident that he's going to the very top of the world game.

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