By Ryan Fleming
Tottenham Hotspur are no longer an under-achieving team. They are no longer a team that should be near the top, but finds itself relegated somewhere near the middle of the English Premier League. Right now, the North London club just completed probably their most important week of the year and without a doubt, most impressive.
Spurs, who currently sit fourth in the English Premier League, beat Arsenal in the famed North London Derby, 2-1, at White Hart Lane, essentially ending the Gunners title hopes. Three days later they manhandled EPL leaders, Chelsea, 2-0, again at White Hart Lane.
The atmosphere within Tottenham’s stadium was electric and the spark of their emotion was Gareth Bale. The goals were Bale’s firsts in two league goals for two in a half years.
Bale, a Welsh international, has been nearly invisible at times this year. But since Jan. 16 when Spurs played Hull City, the Welshman has started every game – cup games or league. Recently, Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, has placed Bale as a left midfielder instead of a left back. With Bale’s speed and determination, having him at left midfield makes him more valuable to a team that needs him on both sides of the pitch. With a defense that has been notably up-and-down for the last year or two and an offense that has failed to find the back of the net, having Bale play a midfield position makes him a weapon for Spurs and a nightmare and utter annoyance for opponents.
The Welshman’s speed gives him the ability to go on the offensive and have enough time to go the opposite way and be more than effective. When Bale is lined up in a defensive position, usually left-back, the native of Cardiff, Wales cannot get himself in an offensive position where he can get a cross in and further Spurs’ threat.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Redknapp is a genius, but he realized where his young star is most useful and he is now seeing the dividends it is paying.
Tottenham, led by Bale, Jermain Defoe and a similar resurgance by Roman Pavlyuchenko, could find themselves in Champions League play next season.
Life Without Lennon
Aaron Lennon is more of a blur when you see him playing. This cloudy form can be seen streaking down either wing, gliding past defenders and generating opportunities on offense that would not exist if someone with less speed had the ball.
For the last four months the winger has been sidelined with a groin injury that has kept him out of league matches as well as England’s international matches. With the absence of Lennon, Redknapp has used Bale in more of a winger role instead of his usual defensive position to do as best as he could to match Lennon’s speed. It’s been no secret that basically since Lennon’s injury just before Christmas, Bale has started almost every game.
Unfortunately for Lennon, with his absence still continuing, his World Cup hopes are fading fast.
Ryan Fleming is editor and contributing writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.