Bale’s Big Day Belly Flops for Tottenham Hotspur with Miss

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /
Tottenham Gareth Bale
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 18: Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

What we wanted to see from Gareth Bale was not a lot and he had the chance to demonstrate he is the answer for Tottenham Hotspur, but Spurs will have to wait.

It was not Gareth Bale’s fault Tottenham Hotspur dropped two points in a draw with West Ham United on Sunday. Sure, West Ham scored all their goals once the Welch attacker came on the pitch, but that was just coincidence. However, Bale could have sealed the game for Spurs and did not, which might be the first sign, that maybe Gareth Bale is not as good as he once was or maybe he is just very rusty.

Tottenham’s Bale Blueprint

It could not really have gone better for Tottenham before Bale came on for what were supposed to be some stretch the leg minutes at the end of a drubbing of West Ham United. Spurs were up three goals and there was less than 20 minutes to play as Gareth Bale was substituted onto the pitch.

To some fans the entire day to that point had to seem a dream with the early goals and the comfortable football up to that point. As Bale walked onto the pitch, Tottenham had a free kick from distance. Like a young new driver looking longingly at the sports car in the window, could it be that we could get the car today? We were looking for a few things from Bale and this free kick was one of them.

There was no question or debate who was taking the free kick, Gareth Bale was. This was one of the reasons Spurs brought Bale back, to add a little fizz to the Tottenham set piece repertoire. Bale hit the ball okay, as it went up and over the wall with ease, but the pace was not the greatest and Fabianski easily saved the shot. While it was not proof that Bale still has the free kick in his arsenal, for the first touch of the ball for Spurs in over six years it was not a bad effort.

Besides showing he still has the ferocious striking power with his left foot, we wanted to see if Bale still had the pace to beat players and the timing to finish the job when it mattered most. We never did get to see Bale hit sixth gear and show that burst of pace. It was not that he could not do it when the time came, he just never got that opportunity.

However, Gareth Bale did have a glorious chance to demonstrate he can still finish and could have put the game to bed for Spurs. Instead Bale missed and Spurs rued their opportunity lost as Lanzini and company cost Spurs points at the death for the second time this season.

Bale’s Big Miss for Tottenham

Bale’s attempt – like most Spurs goals this season – started with a nice pass from Harry Kane who found Bale flashing in from the right wing toward the top of the box. With a move that is very familiar to anyone who has watched much of Gareth Bale, he used some simple pendulums – knocking the ball back and forth between his two feet – right foot dribbles to left, left to right, right to left and the defender is gone.

Bale raced past one defender and cut between the opposition before the other center-half could stop him. Having split the defense, Bale was one-on-one with Fabianski. Again, something we have seen 100s of times before, but then as Bale used his majestic left foot to blast by Fabianski, he inexplicably missed.

Had Bale buried that effort, the late Lanzini screamer would have mattered not and Spurs would have left the victors. Instead, Bale missed, and Tottenham paid the price in terms of dropping two points that should have been theirs. No referees or strange calls to blame, only themselves. While I originally wrote Bale did not have to score to show he could contribute, that did not include missing what would have been the game winning sitter.

Ultimately, I still very much believe in Gareth Bale, Jose Mourinho, and all of Tottenham Hotspur. It was the first league minutes for Bale several months and he is returning from injury. While the dropped points may haunt Spurs down the road, it is not time to panic. What we are learning is the Premier League is ultra-competitive and you need to play a full 90 to win. Soon I have no doubt, Gareth Bale will do both, play for 90 and help Spurs win.