Tottenham v Swansea: Improving Bale to get Spurs back on track
As Tottenham failed to register a single Premier League win in March, their frustrated fans were once again forced to see the familiar sight of North London rivals Arsenal leap-frogging them in the Premier League table.
Many quarters have blamed the speculation surrounding Harry Redknapp’s future with regards to the England job, but while that has undoubtedly had some affect on Spurs’ inability to win any of their last five league games, Redknapp’s tactical tinkering has also led many to scratch their heads.
Before this most recent lull, Gareth Bale was putting in the sort of performances on the left wing that saw him strongly linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe last season.
Almost a victim of his own outstanding success, in recent weeks his manager has attempted to give the talented Welshman even more responsibility in the side and get him on the ball more by attempting to play Bale through the middle, and even on the right hand side of midfield.
It’s a move that hasn’t quite worked, with string-puller Luka Modric also failing to hit the same creative heights when positioned in Bale’s natural position out wide.
However, last week’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea and the midweek cup defeat of Bolton saw Redknapp revert to the system that had served Spurs so well throughout the season, with Adebayor forming the fulcrum with Van Der Vaart hovering, Bale playing wide left again and Modric inside, and was rewarded with two strong performances, including a place back on the scoresheet for Bale after an eight-game drought.
Bale is 11/2 to continue scoring ways and grab the first against Swansea, and with Aaron Lennon returning after a four-game absence through injury, Bale will be free to reap the rewards of the resulting space on the left should his returning colleague start on the right and stretch the width of the pitch.
And Swansea will give Bale, and Spurs (4/9 to win), the freedom to play. But, as we all know by now, that’s because the Swans (13/2) can play too.
They’ve won three of their last four games, with Gylfi Sigurdsson the man they have to thank for their upturn in away form – he’s scored five goals in their last four away from the Liberty Stadium and is 12/1 to score first.