On the back of an 8-0 drubbing from Chelsea on the weekend before Christmas, Aston Villa’s youngsters can’t have been looking forward to the prospect of facing Tottenham’s Gareth Bale running at them.
The Welshman was in scintillating form as Spurs ran riot, inflicting another heavy defeat on the midlands team. Bale seems to enjoy the festive period having played a starring role in the Christmas fixture against Norwich last season bagging a brace. This time he went one better and scored a superb hat-trick – the highlight being a brilliant second, deftly flicking the ball around the last defender before cooly rounding Guzan to flick the ball into the empty net.
Bale’s performance wasn’t just about his goals though. He was involved all over the pitch and recorded his highest number of completed passes so far this season with 36 (one more than he managed against the same opponents earlier in the season) and he had an impressive pass completion rate of 80% – above his average for the season of 78%. From a Tottenham perspective only Vertonghan, Naughton and Dembele made more passes. Not particularly surprising as Dembele plays at the heart of midfield, dictating the play and most of the passes Vertonghan made were in his own half.
The screen shot below (taken from the 442 Stats Zone app) shows the areas where Bale was receiving the ball. Although predominately on the left hand side of the pitch it also shows him getting into dangerous central areas to good effect.
As well as scoring 3 goals, Bale also created 4 chances for his team mates, with all but one coming from a set piece. His 4 chances created were as many as the entire Villa team managed throughout the game. Bale’s dribbling accuracy was also higher than it has been this season at 75% – much higher than his average of 45% for the season and he attempted the most dribbles out of everyone on the pitch (8).
Looking at the stats below, this was Bale’s most effective game this season as an attacking threat. Coming off his left wing he was heavily involved in central areas of the pitch and from these areas he attempted an impressive 7 shots with them all on target (5 hit the target but a further two that were destined for the target were blocked). This is the highest amount of shots he has had in a single game this season. His shot conversion rate of 60% was extremely impressive and when presented with a clear cut scoring opportunity he ensured he took it.
There are few better sights in the Premier League than a free flowing Gareth Bale. If Tottenham are going to finish in the top 4 this season, they will need more performances like this one from their Welsh wizard.