One of the things that our match against Arsenal demonstrated was the good and bad sides of Gareth Bale. On the positive side he was one of our most dangerous players, even after Adebayor was sent off and the game had swung in Arsenal’s favour, Bale was still causing problems and giving us some small hope of an unlikely comeback. He scored the second goal and if he had just slid the ball across to Defoe when through shortly afterwards we could have got the third goal which would have really tested Arsenal’s nerve.
However, these attributes are well documented. More crucial was the defensiveside of his game. Strangely, considering he came to Spurs as a left back, he doesn’t seem to provide any defensive cover on the left hand side. In a game where we had the inexperienced Kyle Naughton up against one of Arsenal’s fastest and most dangerous players in Theo Walcott, this was our achilles heal. Walcott constantly got to run at Naughton, leading to the first Arsenal goal. Things only got worse in the second half when AVB switched to a back three and Bale was essentially playing left back / wing back.
Bale was never a very good defender when he played left back. It was his move further forward, prompted by injuries, that finally saw him flourish after a difficult start at Spurs. However these days he doesn’t even seem to bother.
Bale is clearly one of, if not our best player. The good parts of his game outweigh the bad. But it is interesting that the rumoured big money offers for him haven’t materialised. In a backs against the wall performance, down to ten men against our biggest rivals, you’d have thought he would have put in a bit more defensive effort.