Bale's latest match-winner recruits another disciple

Posted by Dan Fitch

My friend, who sits in the seat next to me at White Hart Lane, couldn't make Tottenham's 1-0 win against Southampton on Saturday, thanks to a badly planned stag weekend that he was duty bound to attend.

In his place I brought along my nephew for his first Spurs game. Anyone who thinks that this was a kindly gesture clearly didn't watch the game.

I might as well have given the lad a job down the mine. The majority of the match was enough to suggest to him that watching Spurs was a grubby business destined to end in misery.

- Rann: Epic Bale - Saints stutter
- Brewin: Man-of-moment Bale delivers on cue
- Pochettino - Spurs a one-man team


Yet the winning goal from Gareth Bale gave off enough of a joyous high to nullify such concerns and fuel a dangerous lifetime addiction.

Oh boy, do Spurs do it the hard way. This was a performance no better than the home losses to Wigan and Fulham.

Andre Villas-Boas switched from the 4-3-3 that was employed against Wigan to a 4-2-3-1, in order to accommodate Aaron Lennon back into the starting lineup.

Lennon replaced the injured Scott Parker, who had a stinker against Wigan, but the England midfielder was missed, of a fashion. Moussa Dembele was paired with Tom Huddlestone at the base of the midfield. Huddlestone looked great on the ball again, but he's mobile enough to play within a two-man central midfield.

What's more, Moussa Dembele is clearly really struggling with injury and was forced to come off after 35 minutes. It's the second game in a row that Tottenham have been forced to substitute him before half-time, which limits the tactical changes that can be made later in the game.

Southampton may not have had the better of the possession, but they did look comfortable in midfield and created the better chances.

Spurs created next to nothing. The match stats that I'm currently looking at state that Tottenham had four efforts on target. I'm struggling to remember any of them, except of course for THAT goal.

In front of the midfield pair, Bale started on the left, with Lennon on the right and Clint Dempsey behind Jermain Defoe. I saw some analysis from Gary Neville after the Manchester City game, in which he stated that Dempsey doesn't have the guile to play in that central role, but is far more dangerous when playing on the left, where he can drift inside to the back post.

I think we saw again that this isn't Dempsey's position. He was very quiet and the problem when he plays in the same team as Defoe is that neither contributes much to the build up play. You can afford one poacher in a team, but never two.

I'm unsure why Villas-Boas didn't start Dempsey left, with Bale central - especially considering that Lennon was there to provide natural width on the right. Credit to our manager though. He realises when his decisions aren't working and figures out how to turn things around.

The Lewis Holtby substitution for Dembele was forced of course, but the German is really growing on me the more I see of him in a deeper midfield role. That's his position next season.

Emmanuel Adebayor came on for Lennon, to partner the ineffective Defoe in attack. He added numbers if not much presence up front.

The substitution that really changed things came when Gylfi Sigurdsson came on for Dempsey. Bale shifted to the right and it was from there that the goal came.

Bale had been quiet for most of the match. He doesn't look fully fit yet and a consequence of his reputation is that opponents try to stick to him like glue. We're going to see more and more games in which he appears to do very little, yet pops up with the vital contribution. That's the destiny of any league's best player.

After 86 minutes of turgid muck, Bale picked the ball up on the right, dinked inside and placed a perfect shot into the bottom corner of the net. We see it time and time again. Thrilling directness, followed by eerily accurate finishing.

It wasn't pretty, but Tottenham got the result they needed. Bale saw to that yet again.

White Hart Lane went absolutely crazy when that goal went in and again at the final whistle. Amidst the madness, I took the time to take a look at my nephew.

Yes, another young heart and mind had been successfully recruited to the mad, bad church of Tottenham. The pain is worth it because the bad times make the good all the more sweet.

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