Yes, Aston Villa have been at the brunt of most of the beatings, but given the way Newcastle capitulated against Arsenal, the goal differential column of the top tier is starting to grow exponentially.
Of the top five clubs in England, Spurs are well behind the eight ball on plus-10, with the closest being Arsenal’s plus-18 but with a match in hand.
Given the fact that three points separate fourth from seventh place and that Arsenal, Everton and West Brom all have winnable matches to start 2013, goal difference might well come into play at the end of the campaign.
Therefore, it is imperative that White Hart Lane rings in the new year with a goal festival, primarily in the net that Reading will be defending.
Bale, suspended for a fifth caution on Saturday against Sunderland, will be unable to add to his own tally, but it will be important for the rest of the squad to bag goals aplenty against perhaps the league’s worst defense.
Even if Bale were in the lineup, that would hardly alter the game plan that the visitors will employ.
It should go without saying that Reading will be parking the bus at the Lane, and breaking down yet another obstinate defense will be the job one of the forwards.
At Sunderland, the Jermain Defoe/Emmanuel Adebayor pairing failed to click into gear again, with Adebayor’s horror-miss the best linkup between the two forwards.
This would be the kind of match, if any, to get the partnership to find some form, but given the stakes near the top of the table, another barren spell should mean that the trial should be shelved—if that time-ship has not already sailed.
Given that defensive duties will likely be kept to a minimum, it would be wise for Tottenham to load up the attacking front players looking to shoot.
Clint Dempsey would seem to be the likely replacement for Bale, though it would be just as easy to see Andros Townsend sent in to keep pace prevalent on the left side.
Whatever the combination may be, Spurs need to remember the things that they have done well over the last four matches and utilize them to devastating effect.
The focal point of the attack should start through Aaron Lennon. It took Lennon some time to get into the match against Sunderland, as the play primarily stuck to the left side.
Lennon only needed one chance, however, to demonstrate the sloth-like speed of the Sunderland back line and made the most of a good bounce or two to nail down the match-winner.
Given that Lennon was a menace and supplied the assist for the opener in the first meeting, letting the little winger dictate the opening proceedings might be a worthwhile endeavor.
With Bale out, it will also fall to Lennon (and likely Defoe) to be the pace who will launch the few counterattacking chances that Tottenham are going to get.
Even after two or three goals, sitting back should be highly discouraged. Reading is not likely to attack often, so it should be up to Spurs to make the most of what should be an overwhelming possession advantage.
However Tottenham decide to attack, this is a match that they need to pour it on Reading.
An early goal will be important to get the Royals to hedge their bets, but at the end of 90 minutes, the scoreline needs to match some of the other festive period routs.