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Brilliant Bale Bulldozes Blades

4 min read
by Ewan Flynn

This was a performance from Spurs that both raised hopes of a late Champions League charge and emphatically confirmed why a parting of the ways with Jose Mourinho had become so essential.

Tottenham rebounded from their League Cup final disappointment with a cathartic 4-0 romp against relegated Sheffield United. Gareth Bale was the star turn with a scintillating hattrick, while Heung-min Son was the pick of the supporting cast, rounding off the scoring with a beauty.

This was a performance from Spurs that both raised hopes of a late Champions League charge and emphatically confirmed why a parting of the ways with Jose Mourinho had become so essential. The exuberance with which Tottenham approached their task had been sorely lacking since the earliest weeks of the season. Ryan Mason has little of his predecessor’s ego. As such, he is at liberty to give Tottenham fans what they’ve longed for – front-foot football, where all of the club’s top attacking talent is out on the pitch rather than spoiling in the stands. Far better teams than Sheffield United would have wilted when faced with Kane, Bale, Son and Alli, but that is the tragedy of this season for Spurs. Only once before had this awesome foursome been let loose in the Premier League. Tottenham supporters are entitled to wonder what might have been.

Twice inside the first five minutes, only the finest of margins prevented the north Londoners from taking an early lead. A flurry of passes on the left wing between Reguilon, Hojbjerg and Son afforded the latter space to clip a curling pass beyond the Blades backline. Kane looked to have timed his run to perfection but was flagged offside as he struck a firm volley goalwards. Moments later, Lo Celso floated a long ball from inside his own half that again turned the visitors’ defence. Reguilon had run on Baldock’s blindside and just failed to make sufficient contact with the bouncing ball to manoeuvre it past the exposed Ramsdale.

Bale then had his first sighter. Kane, beautifully poised on the half-turn in the centre circle, swept a first-time pass into space for the winger to chase. Checking back onto his left foot, Bale cracked a shot over Ramsdale’s bar. The next time the keeper was confronted by the Welshman, he found himself picking the ball from the net. Just after the half-hour mark, a failed Tottenham attack washed up at Aurier’s feet. The full-back scooped a cute pass into the area, which Bale met with a snaking leg to dink the ball beyond Ramsdale for the opener.

Dele Alli, increasingly to the fore as the half progressed, showcased his impressive repertoire of flicks and tricks. Particularly delicious was his nutmeg of Norwood on the halfway line that allowed him to set Son on a forward thrust. The Korean bamboozled Bogle with a dizzying step-over before being hauled down. Harry Kane lined up the freekick, drilling it halfway up the visitors’ wall. The England captain then choked the rebound wide of Ramsdale’s near post.

At the interval, Paul Heckingbottom replaced Bogle and Brewster with Berge and Burke. The Blades should have been reduced to 10 men before either had managed a meaningful touch. Having foraged for possession, Lo Celso stumbled to the ground, Fleck who had been in pursuit, brought his studs down on the Argentine’s face. It certainly warranted a VAR check, and in the subsequent replays, it very much looked like the Scot had put the boot in deliberately. One can only hypothesise that the Stockley Park doorbell rang with a delivery when John Moss was supposed to be reviewing the incident. On-field referee Andrew Mariner received no word that he should reach for his red card. Moss was evidently back in his seat a few minutes later when Son raced on to Alderweireld’s raking pass to fire past Ramsdale. Exhaustive replays determined that the forward’s shirt sleeve was goalside of the last defender as the ball was played. Tottenham’s lead remained at just one.

Buoyed by this unexpected reprieve, Sheffield United had their best spell of the match. Little good it did them. On the hour, Son won possession in his own half, evaded an attempt to arrest the unfolding counter-attack and guided a ball forward to the sprinting Bale. Streaking beyond Basham, Tottenham’s number nine nudged the ball to his left before crashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Eight minutes later, he completed his hattrick. Alli spun an outside of the boot pass wide, encouraging Aurier to dash forward. The Ivorian dropped his shoulder and came infield before teeing up Bale just inside the D.
Bale’s unerring strike flew through the beleaguered Basham’s legs, leaving Ramsdale with no chance. In short order, the matchwinner was replaced by Steven Bergwijn only to return after the full-time whistle to claim his richly deserved match ball.

With Bale off the pitch, it was now Son’s turn to shine. Alli pounced on McGoldrick’s mistake and fed Bergwijn, who emulated the man he’d replaced by wandering inside from his perch on the wing. The Dutchman instantly slid the ball on to Son, who whipped a superb twenty-yarder in off Ramsdale’s far post.

Spurs now sit five points behind Chelsea and seven adrift of Leicester with four games to play. Tottenham may well require snookers to hijack the top four at this late stage of the season. But even if they don’t make it, the club’s fans will salute the work of their interim boss Ryan Mason. He has started the rehabilitation of their beloved institution after it badly lost its way.

All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

Freelance football writer for When Saturday Comes The Blizzard and FourFourTwo. Author of We Are Sunday League

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