Gareth Bale has had a slow start to the season by his high standards. Three games in and yet to score a goal or record an assist for Spurs this term, despite going close when he hit the bar against Newcastle.
It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, as he had to wait a few matches before opening his account at Wigan last season. Although given the opposition we’ve faced in our opening matches, you get a sense that the Welshman feels he should be off the mark by now.
He’s taken eleven shots at goal in the first three games, with only four hitting the target. More worryingly, we’ve seen him wander inside from his left wing position during matches. So, is Gareth Bale getting frustrated?
Gareth Bale – games of two halves
After a big season and signing a new contract, Gareth Bale would have wanted to start the season with a bang. It hasn’t happened as yet, but what has been interesting is how he has begun to wander in the second half of games. Is this a sign that he is getting frustrated and coming inside looking for the ball?
Gareth Bale against Newcastle
Our first match of the season up at St. James’s Park saw the team put in a good performance only to fall to a late penalty as the game finished Newcastle 2 Spurs 1.
Gareth Bale had a mixed game, hitting the bar with a header in the first half. If we look at his performance with Stats Zone, we can see some early signs of him coming inside to pick up the ball in the second half.
In the first 45 minutes, Gareth Bale receives the majority of passes to him just over the halfway line, quite far from goal on the left. He takes a couple of passes down the centre and also a cross to the back stick and sees his header come back off the bar. He also picks up the ball on the right after switching wings for a brief period with Aaron Lennon.
In the second half he begins to wander, he picks up less passes on the left and more in a central area in and around the centre circle. He does get the ball 25 times as opposed to just 17 in the first half. This could be a sign that he is looking to get more of the ball due to not receiving it in the first half so is beginning to wander inside.
As a result of this, his passing is affected as well. In the first half, his passes are played out from just over the halfway line in a very contained area.
In the second half, due to him coming inside a lot more and picking up the ball deeper, his passes are moving the ball out wide on diagonals. A fair few of them are moving the ball to the left flank where he should have been.
Gareth Bale against West Brom
A week later against West Brom in our first home match, Gareth Bale again has a game of two halves as the game finished Spurs 1 West Brom 1.
In the first 45 minutes he is a lot more disciplined, staying out wide on the left to stretch a West Brom defence that was sat back, looking to hit on the counter.
He gets plenty of the ball as he receives it 23 times and on several occasions in advanced areas where he can attack the full back to put in a cross. He receives two passes in central locations in and on the edge of the area, both resulting in off target shots. He also doesn’t switch wings with Aaron Lennon.
In the second half, he begins to wander once again, receiving the ball less frequently out on the left and quite far from goal. He also switches wings with Aaron Lennon to receive passes out on the right and his one ball received in the box results in an on-target shot which is saved.
Overall, he only receives the ball 14 times in the second half. So, after seeing more of the ball against Newcastle after wandering, but in worse positions, this time he sees less of the ball and in less attacking positions.
His passing once again is affected by moving inside.
In the first half he is able to put in plenty of crosses from beating West Brom full back Steven Reid. In the second half, his passing is much less penetrating as a result of his movement around the pitch.
Gareth Bale against Norwich
The match with Norwich was another frustrating affair as we let another late goal in, with the game finishing Spurs 1 Norwich 1.
For Gareth Bale, we can again see a distinct difference between his first and second half performances.
The first 45 minutes sees him receive the ball in three main areas. He takes passes from Benoit Assou-Ekotto deep in the Spurs half from the left back area. He also receives the ball out on that side midway inside the opposition half, with a couple of passes further up the field to the corner of the 18-yard box. The last 10 minutes maybe a sign of frustration due to Spurs’ indifferent performance, but he switches flanks with Aaron Lennon on the right to finish the half.
In the second stanza we again see a wandering Gareth Bale, as he receives the majority of his passes in a central area outside the box and out on the right flank.
His movement once again affects his passing maps for each half. In the first he attempts more balls in to the box looking to provide service from the left. The second half sees him put nothing in to the box apart from two unsuccessful corners.
Is Gareth Bale getting frustrated in games?
We have seen Gareth Bale begin to wander a lot more in the second half of matches so far this season.
This could be due to the fact that he was seeing less of the ball, as was the case against Newcastle. It could also be because the game was 0-0 and he wanted to force a breakthrough. This was the case against West Brom and Norwich, where Spurs didn’t take the lead until midway through the second half, only to be pegged back.
Whatever the case may be, when Gareth Bale is wandering, his passing becomes less penetrating making him less of a threat. He also has taken 11 shots in these three matches, eight of which have been from outside the box, so it’s not like he is getting better shots by coming inside.
Gareth Bale wandering in the second half may be a sign of frustration, it may also be a sign that he is trying too hard to help the team. His excellent season last year, or his new big money contract may be adding some pressure and so he feels he has to deliver. Whatever the reason, he should be staying out on the left where he is at his devastating best.