Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat when they head to Everton in the Premier League this evening.
Jose Mourinho’s side know that a loss at Goodison Park will see them leapfrogged in the standings, and that would subsequently make their hopes of breaking into the top six an arduous task, let alone the top four.
It means that the Portuguese must get his team selection and tactics spot on, and one decision could prove to be the difference-maker…
Some of Spurs’ best football in recent months has come with Real Madrid loanee and fan favourite Gareth Bale in the starting XI.
After providing an assist from the bench during their 2-1 defeat to West Ham in late February, the Welsh winger was trusted to start their next three league outings, from which Tottenham emerged with three straight victories. Bale contributed substantially, picking up four goals (two braces apiece) and a further assist, as per Transfermarkt.
His hour against Arsenal was far from inspiring, but you couldn’t name a positive Spurs performer across the pitch that day, so snubbing him for Aston Villa, Newcastle and then Manchester United seemed a tad unfair.
As ever, Harry Kane largely carried the north Londoners through those matches with his goalscoring exploits, but Mourinho’s side looked devoid of confidence in attack after throwing away another lead.
It’s now 18 points lost from a winning position this season and, whilst that largely comes down to defensive mistakes, those errors wouldn’t be so glaring if Spurs could put teams out of sight – and that is why Bale must start in a match as big as this one tonight.
He’s a game-changer, someone capable of producing something out of nothing. The same can’t really be said for any of Mourinho’s other options on the right flank.
The £18m-rated star may have only started six league games but he finds himself among Spurs’ most consistent performers (6.96), as per WhoScored ratings. In Tottenham’s squad, only Kane (19) and Heung-min Son (14) have found the net more often than Bale (five) in the Premier League this term.
By comparison, Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn – the alternatives – have combined for just four goals. That’s a rather damning return.
If Bale’s recent omission wasn’t strange enough on that basis, it was only at the start of March when Mourinho claimed the Madrid loanee was “better than ever.”
The 31-year-old has even been lauded for his impact off the pitch, too. “His behaviour as a team guy is incredible, his behaviour as a Tottenham guy is remarkable,” revealed the Spurs boss back in October.
Mourinho must not make Bale the scapegoat for their recent failings, so ahead of kick-off tonight, he must make a U-turn and seek to start him alongside Kane and Son in attack.
It could certainly help Spurs to get back on track with a result at Goodison Park.
AND in other news, Levy could save Spurs millions with swoop for the next Ibrahimovic…