On Monday evening Tottenham Hotspur used a late surge of goals to blow post Wycombe Wanderers 1-4 and advance to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup. In the process of sealing a date with Everton, we continued to see some things that should both hearten and concern Tottenham fans. Here are some of our takeaways from the win.
Gareth Bale is Getting There
Not everyone on a team is a superstar and even then, sometimes superstars become squad players. Such is the case with Gareth Bale right now as Spurs fans have seen a player similar to what Madrid got last season and not the all-world wonder who left all those years ago.
When looking at what Bale might bring at the beginning of the season there were three things HotspurHQ wanted too see from Gareth. Specifically, we were looking for that burst of speed, his trademark touch and incredible shot, and finally Bale’s excellent work in the air. Thus far this season, we have been teased a bit in each of these areas and maybe, just maybe Bale is almost back.
Gareth Bale demonstrated a burst to get past player last night.
That burst to run past players is not something we have seen this season, whether it was a confidence thing or a fitness thing, we have not seen Bale beat players off the dribble with pace. He did that well against Wycombe both to get into the box and to drive into the center of the pitch.
Additionally, we finally saw some wonderful touches from Bale. Not at the level of some of the over-the-shoulder grabs we have seen from Tanguy Ndombele of late, but it is obvious Bale is getting there with his first touch. In fact it was a deft little touch that got Bale and Spurs on the board at the end of the first half.
Of course Bale also missed a couple opportunities with his shot and with his head, both areas of tremendous strength for the Welshman. We have to believe that you just do not forget how to shoot, it is about putting it together with everything else. Ultimately that timing to get his wicked shot just right and those headers buried will be the last thing to come but based on last night, they are coming.
Harry Winks Carving out a Role
A month ago people were wondering where Harry Winks was going to go to find playing time. Apparently, he needed to go talk to the coach, put his head down and take the playing time, which Winks has done. This role is not to start and star in every game, rather it is to make a meaningful contribution to the midfield and team in the games where Winks can excel.
Harry Winks, still only 24-years-old, is an extremely gifted midfielder who has an incredibly high floor, but also not a Tanguy Ndombele-like ceiling with no end. On a midtable team, Winks would be the man and could keep a team well above the relegation zone. However, Winks is on a team competing for titles meaning he is not always top choice.
However, as one of the better options, Winks gets a lot of time against opponents that he should dominate. Last night was an example of Winks playing against opposition he should dominate and he did that. Both on and off the ball, Harry Winks was all over the field making plays with the pass and the dribble, certainly serving as one of the best players on the pitch for the night.
Winks is learning to leverage his opportunities.
Winks’ goal was a beauty and showed real calm in the final third that has previously been lacking at times from the midfielder. Winks is not going to run the park against Manchester City or Liverpool, but against teams that next notch down he can, should, and hopefully will be bossing the midfield for Spurs in those outings for the rest of the season.
Tottenham Need to be More Clinical
We love to be positive here at HotspurHQ, any other way just is not fun. However, we also have to try and be realistic. The 28 shots attempted was great, the eight on target was unacceptable. Tottenham probably should have scored 10 goals last night.
In his 25 minutes Heung-Min Son missed two he normally buries. Harry Kane did not have clear cut chances, but we know Kane has done more with less and could have had two himself. Ryan Allsop did well in the box twice against our talisman – something he likely will remember forever! Gareth Bale also missed a couple clear cut chances, plus Spurs had two balls ping off the post.
That is eight opportunities where a little bit of luck or rightly in several of the instances a bit more focus and precision and Spurs have double figures on the night. Against Wycombe, who clearly tired from a lack of match fitness, it was enough to advance. Against Everton in a few weeks, that likely will not take Tottenham through to the quarter-finals in March.
Tottenham have already paid and will again if they are not clinical.
Spurs have already seen what happens when they are not clinical against Liverpool, whom Tottenham face in League on Thursday. Bottom line is, for Tottenham to move forward and achieve some glory, they cannot let the chances to score slip by, the competition is going to get too good to not make Spurs pay, so Tottenham need to make them pay first.