If you’d have asked me at Christmas time who I thought the prestigious ‘ftbllr.net Player of the Season Award’ would be going to, I don’t think too many of you would have argued with me on twitter about naming Robin van Persie as the first choice. Fast forward 8 weeks, and I’m not so sure.
And that’s not because the Manchester United striker’s form has dropped off dramatically or, indeed, that I don’t think he will go on to play a crucial part in United’s successes this season (he will), it’s more to do with the consistently brilliant form of Gareth Bale, whose goals have won him even more headlines since the New Year, and have started getting him noticed once more by the top, top clubs.
It’s hard to argue with the statistics – he has scored 15 goals in the league this season, behind just Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie, both of whom are out-and-out strikers, and their club’s first choice penalty takers; he has scored 9 goals in the last 8 Premier League matches, so he is more on form than anyone else right now, even though he’s only a midfielder!?
There was once a stat going around that Tottenham hadn’t won any game that Bale had started in (and the losing / drawing streak went on for a considerable distance) but right now you’d have to question just what Spurs would be doing without him?! They certainly wouldn’t be third, and probably wouldn’t be even anywhere near the top four – his most recent goals won them a point at Norwich, 3 points at WBA, 3 points at Newcastle, and 3 points against West Ham. In the space of 4 weeks he has gifted Spurs 10 points – which is the dirrefence between 3rd and 8th!
With Spurs now looking capable of netting a Champions League spot, there is a small chance that he will stay at White Hart Lane. He would do well to stay there, given that the team is effectively built around him and plays to his strengths – sheer pace and fantastic finishing. Spurs play a counter-attacking game which gives Bale all the space he needs to run on to balls launched over the top, but at clubs such as United or Barcelona, the midfielders find themselves trying to spray passes through teams who sit on their own penalty-boxes, and who aren’t opened up as easily.
Who will win the ‘ftbllr.net Player of the Season Award’? If Bale keeps up this form…
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