Is Gareth Bale better on the right for Spurs?

Is Gareth Bale better on the right for Spurs?

With his last minute strike against Sunderland, Gareth Bale hit a massive 21 goals this season in the Premier League for Spurs.

The former winger has benefited from his switch to a central position this season, but his last four goals have all come after being moved out to the right side of Spurs’ 4-2-3-1 formation. Whether this has been for the full 90 minutes or mid-match, he has profited from being moved out of the middle where the space has often become congested.

Gareth Bale is a much better player when he has the ball at his feet and can run at the opposition than he is with his back to goal. Teams that have faced Tottenham have figured this out and are deploying additional bodies in the centre accordingly. This has meant that when Bale has been switched to the right, he has had much more freedom and can face-up to goal.

Gareth Bale against Man City

The match may have finished with a comfortable Spurs victory, but the Citizens were looking solid at half time. A goal up and controlling the game through their use of Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure, the pair sat in front of their back four to break up the flow of the match.

In the first half, Gareth Bale saw plenty of the ball, but apart from a tame long-range shot, he was kept well away from goal by City’s deep central duo.


Gareth Bale passes received and shots, Spurs vs Man City 1st half.

In the second period, Andre Villas-Boas shifted to a 4-3-3. He brought Lewis Holtby on to play in the middle, Bale moved out to the right, whilst Clint Dempsey went across to his preferred position on the left.

This saw Gareth Bale get more space to work in now that he had escaped the attentions of Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure in the centre.

Having not previously received a pass even near the City box, he was now getting the ball much closer to, and even inside, the area. He was able to fire three shots from cutting inside from his starting position on the right.


Gareth Bale passes received and shots, Spurs vs Man City 2nd half.

The move opened up Spurs’ attack, but also the Citizen’s defence.

Bale got in behind Gael Clichy, as he crossed the ball for Clint Dempsey to equalise – the switch also benefited the American who was previously looking out of place on the right.


Gareth Bale creates from the right for Clint Dempsey.

Then he streaked through on to Tom Huddlestone’s pass, as he got in-behind Clichy once more.


Tom Huddlestone finds Gareth Bale streaking in-behind from the right.

Tottenham’s three goals in six minutes swung the match against Man CIty and were vital in keeping Spurs’ hopes of a Champions League place alive. Although Tottenham eventually failed to make it, they look a good bet to return to Europe’s elite competition next season. Andre Villas-Boas has the side going in the right direction and after an impressive first season, getting on them early with could well prove fruitful.

Gareth Bale against Wigan

Andre Villas-Boas continued with 4-3-3 a week later at the DW stadium. Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey continued to flank the diminutive Jermain Defoe in the same front three that he finished the match with Man City.

Continuing on the right meant that the Welshman escaped the Wigan pair of McArthur and McCarthy who were playing in front of a re-jigged back four.

The switch to the right allowed him to move away from this pairing and receive the ball facing up to goal, rather than with his back to it. Whilst he was getting the ball wide on the right in the midfield zone, he was cutting inside and able to fire shots across goal. His out-to-in movement, playing as an inverted forward, also allowed him to get up in to the box to receive the ball.


Gareth Bale passes received and shots, Wigan vs Spurs.

He may have scored from a fortunate deflection as he blocked goalkeeper Joel Robles kick, but he was also on hand to deflect the equaliser in off Emerson Boyce. That made it two goals in two games when permanently moved out to the right.

Gareth Bale against Southampton

Gareth Bale was restored to his central role as a number ten, but once again ran in to congestion in the middle of the park. Steven Davis and Jack Cork occupied this zone for the Saints, with Cork given the task of tracking him. This forced Bale out of the centre and towards the left flank with play heavily going down this side.

After 60 minutes and with Spurs requiring the points, Andre Villas-Boas brought on Emmanuel Adebayor and moved Gareth Bale out to the right. The switch meant that he now escaped the attentions of Cork, but could also isolate himself one-on-one with full back Luke Shaw.

Gareth Bale passes received 0-60 minutes (left) and 61-90 minutes (right).

Gareth Bale passes received 0-60 minutes (left) and 61-90 minutes (right).

The move would prove pivotal, as Bale received the ball on the right in 1v1 coverage.

Lewis Holtby ran Jack Cork towards goal, allowing the Welshman to drive inside on his left foot towards the middle. With defenders now closing, he fired an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Artur Boruc.


Gareth Bale cuts inside from the right to unleash a left-footed thunderbolt.

The switch to move Gareth Bale to the right had once again paid dividends with another” massive win” in Tottenham’s chase for a Champions League place.

Gareth Bale against Sunderland

Spurs’ match with Sunderland on the weekend saw Bale once again start in the centre, but in the first half, he often altered positions with Aaron Lennon and Clint Dempsey. With the Black Cats sitting deeper, the Welshman saw little of the ball; his most notable highlight was being hauled down by Sebastien Larsson, and then be booked for diving.

After the interval, Andre Villas-Boas switched Bale back to a permanent role on the right. The Welshman saw more of the ball and got further up the pitch. Seven of his nine shots at goal came after the move, as he was able to cut inside on to his trusty left foot.


Gareth Bale passes received and shots, Spurs vs Sunderland 2nd half.

That included his winning goal, which had a similar look to his strike in the previous home match with Southampton.

Bale was able to isolate Adam Mitchell one-on-one this time and with Jack Colback slow to help, he cut inside and released another thunderbolt in to the top corner.


Gareth Bale isolates Adam Mitchell 1v1 this time.

The goal would once more win the game and add more fuel to the argument that Gareth Bale might just be better playing as an inverted winger on the right.

Is Gareth Bale better on the right for Spurs?

Gareth Bale has done well as a number ten, but with teams now wise of how to play him here, he has shown increasingly good form on the right.

In the games where he has played on the right, it has worked. Bale has been able to cut inside on to his trusty left foot and get shots away, very much in the manner that Andre Villas-Boas used Hulk for at Porto. The goals have flowed, very much as they did for the Brazilian.

Playing Gareth Bale on the right may just be the answer to Spurs’ recent problems of width. It may also be the solution against teams who are looking to crowd him out in the centre.

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2 Responses to Is Gareth Bale better on the right for Spurs?

  1. Kendrick I. Mendez May 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Villas-Boas, though, believes Bale, 23, is even more of a threat in 2013, buoyed by the confidence of 16 league goals already this season and his success in coming off the wing to play through the middle.

  2. Bette K. Cervantes May 25, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    “I think it’s his best goalscoring season for Tottenham. You just see that the player is really enjoying his football and taking a buzz out of it.