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Q&A: are we over-reliant on Gareth Bale?

With a double against Newcastle followed up by two fabulous free-kicks at home to Lyon, Gareth Bale has never been more in the spotlight for Spurs than now.

The Welshman is playing at such a high level that he has scored our last six goals in all competitions. The last player to score, who wasn’t wearing the number 11, was Clint Dempsey against Manchester United four matches ago.

So far this season, he’s bagged 13 goals in the Premier League and 17 in all competitions, so are we starting to rely on Gareth Bale too much?

I put the question to a number of my favourite Spurs bloggers in this month’s Q&A and here are their thoughts…

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Gareth Bale has had the goal-den touch.

Chris Miller of WindyCOYS:

Gareth Bale has moved up a level this season. He was already a supremely talented footballer and incredibly gifted natural athlete but, at times, in the last few months, he has been totally unplayable.

He has dragged Spurs over the finishing line on numerous occasions – he has scored our last four Premier League goals, gaining us seven points in the process. Since our strikers stopped scoring, we have needed his goals, and without them we would not be anywhere near the position we are.

Are we over-reliant on him? Probably. Even when he doesn’t play well, he attracts defenders and creates space for others on the pitch. If you don’t have Gareth Bale on the pitch, defenders will be nowhere near so pre-occupied, nowhere near so scared, and the likes of Lennon, Dempsey, Holtby and Adebayor simply won’t be allowed the same amount of space to work in.

The other issue we have is that we don’t have a natural deputy. Dempsey and Sigurdsson can both play on the left, Holtby has played there too; but none of them are anything like the type of player that Bale is.

We could cope without him – we can cope without him – but, as a team, we would (will) have nowhere near the same fear factor, and would (will) have to adjust accordingly.

Ben McAleer of TotheLaneandBack and Pick Tottenham:

There have been suggestions that Spurs are becoming a one man team as a result of the 23-year-old’s exploits, a remark that is regularly scoffed at by many a fan. However, the stats don’t lie, with Bale’s goals vital to the success in recent weeks.

Without him in the squad, the club would’ve picked up just one point in their last three games, rather than the seven attained, not to mention falling to defeat on Thursday night. Granted, if Bale wasn’t available, someone else would’ve taken his place, but would they have been of the same stature and quality as the Wales international? Unlikely.

More often than not cutting in from the left to wreck havoc on the opposition, much like a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, defenders are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with the exploits of the Welshman, which is no surprise considering his physical outlook and exceptional footballing capability.

Without him in the starting XI this season, Spurs have picked up points, but in the period he was out, could more have been obtained? It’s hard to tell. Are Spurs becoming over reliant on the Welshman? To an extent, yes, but only as a result of injury and a loss of form to Jermain Defoe.

With the striker sidelined, the natural goal getting instinct is lost in Spurs’ attacking impetus and the goals have to come from somewhere. At present, Bale is the man to provide that, at least until Defoe returns or Emmanuel Adebayor picks up the form he showed of last season once again.

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Gareth Bale fires home a free-kick against Lyon.

Kenny Palmer of THFC1882:

The Welshman’s two stunning free kicks against Lyon confirmed what we already know, yes!

With Jermain Defoe injured he’s Spurs only genuine goal scoring threat. He has scored all of Tottenham’s goals in the last four games, all decisive goals & has the sheer force of personality/ability to change the course of a match with a piece of individual brilliance.

Emmanuel Adebayor has flopped since signing on a permanent basis, the sitters he missed against Sunderland & QPR emblematic of his finishing and he has showed as much commitment to the Tottenham cause as a condemned man on his way to the gallows!

As highlighted in your blog piece, Lewis Holtby’s effervescent cameo performances suggest he will contribute goals and creativity. A returning Defoe will take some of the goal scoring load off Bale’s shoulders and lest we forget Clint Dempsey has continued to chip in with goals; none more so important than the equaliser against Manchester United.

Sam Antrobus of The Hotspur Way:

If you look at the fact he’s scored all six of our goals over the last four games, then I think it’s quite difficult to argue against the fact we’re over-reliant upon him at the moment. But I don’t think that equates to quite the doomsday scenario some make it out to be.

We’re no more over-reliant upon Bale’s goals at the moment than say, Manchester United have been upon Robin van Persie’s. But perhaps the fact there’s such little else in the way of a goal threat currently in our side, makes that over-reliance a bit more worrying. Unless our strikers start scoring goals again, there could be a danger that over-reliance turns into a burden.

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Gareth Bale shreds the Man Utd defence.

Stephan of Total Tottenham:

Gareth Bale has been very important for us in the last couple of games, but people have to remember he has also had a run of matches in which he was completely anonymous this season. The reason why we seem so reliant on him is the lack of end product by our strikers. Jermain Defoe has been terrible in the last 6 games and only scored 1 goal in 9 Premier League appearances before he went off injured at The Hawthorns. Emmanuel Adebayor has been equally disappointing this season and his absence during the Africa Cup of Nations emphasized the lack of goal scoring ability in our team even more. Clint Dempsey has chipped in some goals, but he needs too many chances to get his goals. He mostly operates as a second striker and therefore he often doesn’t provide the needed presence in the centre of the penalty box to get on the end of crosses like a target man would.

Our midfield is too static as well at times. There’s too little movement to force the opponent’s defence to lose shape. Bale was the only one who got defenders to either pinch or back off because of the threat he would run in behind when Spurs put a ball over the top of the defence. In that respect, Lewis Holtby has been a breath of fresh air because he has been pulling defenders out of position and makes runs to beat the offside trap. We need that kind of movement to unlock defences and create space for others to exploit. Add to that his corner-kicks are a cut above the usual and I can see us score more goals from set-pieces during the remainder of the season.

All-in-all I think Bale is a very important player to our team but any team in the world relies on individual brilliance in tight games. Last season for example we relied on Rafael van der Vaart to score goals when our strikers weren’t doing the business. With Holtby providing more movement and Adebayor looking up for it since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, I’m looking forward to a more dynamic and clinical attacking display from Spurs.

I’d like to thank the guys for taking time out to chat with me and you can follow Windy (@WindyCOYS), Ben (@Ben_McAleer1 ), Kenny (@KennyPalmer), Sam (@Samuel_Antrobus) and Stephan (@TotalTottenham) on Twitter.

Now over to you… What do you think, are we over-reliant on Gareth Bale?

Spurs Fanatic - Mark

Loves the tactical side of the game. Find out what makes this Spurs blog different and be our friend on Facebook and Twitter.


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