At this moment in time is there a better attacking left sided player in the Premier League than the Welsh wizard Gareth Bale?
Even though he faces us on Saturday as an opposing player you can only admire the kid. As fast running with the ball as without it, able to turn inside and out and scores with unerring accuracy from that quality left boot of his. He seems to have the lot. Crossing ability, shots, free-kicks, assists and goals. Great combination!
Back in the day of KK’s second (really third) coming as manager, Bale had been targeted on his transfer hit-list. At this point he was still a raw teenager plying his trade at Southampton.
Special K’s ambitions were not matched by the board and he was ridiculed, undermined and finally pushed enough for our King to jump ship. Bearing in mind he had targeted Schweinsteiger from Bayern also, yet in came Xisco and Nacho Gonzales! Milner was sold, Colo and Spiderman swung into town and the rest as they is say is history.
How close the Welshman came to landing here is dubious, but I tell you what I would have loved to have had him up here. However it did not start too great for him at Spurs and his career was very start stop. Old ‘Arry did not seem to put any faith in the kid, and at one point if my memory serves me right he had the ignominious statistic hanging heavy around his neck that Spurs had never won a game with him in the line up!
Remarkable isn’t it how things change, and with a good run in the team he just seems to get stronger and stronger. Those performances and goals in the Champions League against Inter Milan were incredible.
Without doubt he is very much the danger man in the current Spurs team. This a team that is scoring goals and not conceding many – also a good combination.
The question is can we stop him? My feeling is that if we do, we have got a hell of a chance as Spurs are a little bit short on the injury front. However concentrate too much on Bale and then leave the back door open for other dangermen such as Aaron Lennon who has terrorized Newcastle’s defence on occasion. If Bale is utilised down the left then a key battle with our new attacking full back Debuchy is in the offing. His natural instincts to get forward may be curbed as the danger of Bales pace exploiting gaps In behind would be suicidal. On the flip side if Debuchy does bomb on, will this make Bale retreat as part of his defensive duties? I would not bank on that.
If he plays through the middle or has a free role then I would be happier that we could cope, far more congested and his opportunities to turn on the afterburner will be curtailed by Cabaye, Sissoko and Tiote (possibly). For me that is a very strong trio and I would fancy them against any midfield opposition. As for the rest of the team, Lennon as already mentioned will be a huge test for Santon for the same reasons as Bale. Davide has struggled against tricky wingers and had a bit of a mare against our old boy Kazenga Lua Lua in the cup when he turned him inside out in the right back position. Lennon will do the same, turn inside and out. He can make a fool out of any full back though not as potent as Bale. His final ball and shot are nowhere near the quality of Welsh Gaz, but never the less very dangerous.
Next is new defender and another supposed Toon target is Jan Vertonghen. A strong and adventurous defender with a wicked shot, not quite in the Phillippe Albert class (who is?) but good all the same. After that I think Spurs have problems. Defoe is definitely missing the game, out for three weeks. Great news for Newcastle having scored in the opposing fixture in August and he has been a constant threat to us down the years with his direct style and accuracy with either foot. Then we have Adebayor, who starred in our 0-5 hammering, and the Toons worst defeat of 11/12. He played like Pele to the power of Dixie Dean. His aerial menace caused Colo no end of problems and had the usually unflappable Curly haired one going AWOL. He has just returned from the African Cup of Nations and by all accounts is “fatigued” after representing Togo.
The game last year landed at a bad time for NUFC. It was an emotionally charged day, the White Hart Lane faithful believing their Gaffer ‘Arry was off to be the National team manager. To be fair I think he thought he was off too, how wrong were they?
Scott Parker has returned to the team following a long lay out to plug the gap left by Sandro, the Brazilian destroyer lost to a serious knee injury. Parker obviously will be out to make a point, but I do not fear him. The man I christened “360 degrees of pure football” during his stint on Tyneside, due to his inclination to turn on the ball when not necessary will have a tough game against our midfield which I think is possibly our most potent asset. Last mention is Clint Dempsey, who in the colours of Fulham scored a hat-trick against us at the Cottage in another forgettable performance. The Yanky is a solid and underrated player who will float between midfield and attack, but how much he floats will depend on whether Adebayor makes the game or not.
Now to our boys. Let’s not get carried away, we have only won once away and that being at Villa who are abysmal. Even that was with a second half backs to the wall performance, with Geordie backsides squeaking like the Lurpak trombonist. However, confidence is everything. Villa was step one on the ladder to redemption, Chelsea we jumped a couple of rungs and thoroughly deserved our three points and played like lions. But that was at SJP with 52,000 backing. Can we turn in the type of performance that saw Keegans team win 1-4 just a few seasons ago? The reality is that in the last three fixtures between our two at the lane we have lost 3, conceded 8 and scored 0. I think if we played as we did in the first half against Villa, and the 90 minutes against Chelsea we will give the Glory, glory boys a much harder game than they are expecting. Taylor returning to the back for is a boon, and his partnership with Colo will need to be on song. The fullbacks will have to be sensible and choose the right moments to hit the accelerator and watch in the view mirrors for danger. Cisse looks almost back to his old self, with him actually get some service for once without the ball landing at his feet without snow on it. He could spark in front of our midfield triumvirate.
If our three tenors – Cabaye (everybody knows his name), Moussa and Gouffran hit the high notes we can worry them. Sufficiently for three precious points, who knows?
There is only one way to find out! See you on the other side. HTL.
Any comments welcome, I will reply to all.