Gareth Bale Is Talismanic Figure for Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterDecember 27, 2012

Gareth Bale has been the key figure in Tottenham's good form in recent seasons
Gareth Bale has been the key figure in Tottenham's good form in recent seasonsMichael Regan/Getty Images

Gareth Bale proved yet again to be the difference for Tottenham as they cruised to a 4-0 win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

The Wales international struck a second-half hat-trick for the North London side at Villa Park to make it 13 goals in 26 appearances for Spurs this season.

The 23-year-old, who moved to White Hart Lane from Southampton in May 2007, has been an inspirational force for Tottenham after being given his chance by former manager Harry Redknapp.

Bale had endured one of the least-wanted records in the Premier League in his early days with Spurs. The winger played 24 times for the first team before they actually won a game with Bale in the side.

But that victory against Burnley in September 2009 was the catalyst for a mesmeric turn of form for the Welshman.

Bale had to wait until an injury to Benoit Assou-Ekotto gave him an opportunity but he took full advantage, turning in several key displays for the rest of the season.

Since then, Bale has never looked back and has impressed at all levels domestically and in Europe, making him a target for several high-profile clubs across the continent.

But where would Tottenham now be without Bale? Certainly his goals this season have ensured wins over Manchester United, Southampton and Liverpool.

Six points taken from Andre Villas-Boas’ team at this point of the season would leave Spurs in ninth place in the Premier League. Throw in Bale’s assists and the standings look even worse.

Redknapp was all too aware of what Bale brings to Tottenham and compared the winger to European greats such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It is the pace of Bale which makes him so difficult to play against for Premier League defenders.

It is not unknown for two or three opposition players to cope with the threat Bale poses, creating space for Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe to penetrate.

Bale is also a natural left-footed player, which is a huge benefit for any centre-forward relying on his crosses, because a straight-forward run to the byline removes the need for cutting back inside to deliver with the right foot.

Clint Dempsey has been used in the absence of Bale this season, but the United States international does not possess the Welshman’s astonishing turn of pace.

Bale has played 16 league games for Spurs this season and has been on the winning side on nine occasions. Tottenham have won just once without him.

However, with European big guns training their sights on Bale, Spurs should be wary of "Life after Gareth."