Gareth Bale is the player of the moment in the English Premier League. According to his manager, though, that's not all.
Bale—who scored two more goals, including the stunning winner Monday night against West Ham United—is hitting top form as Spurs continue their push for a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League qualification.
The Welsh winger has scored eight goals in his last six matches, including three braces in his last four outings in all competitions. Those eight strikes represent 80 percent of Tottenham's offensive output in the last seven games. In his last five matches in all competitions, he has bagged four winners.
With 15 goals, he's tied for third place in the Premier League's scoring charts this season. His 11 goals away from home and six strikes since the start of 2013 are both tops for any Premier Leauge player.
That's the kind of influential form that can change the course of the season. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that first-year Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is singing Bale's praises.
Asked whether Bale could be named the Premier League's Player of the Year, Villas-Boas said (per the Daily Telegraph):
I think so. It would be truly deserved, but (it's) not up to me to make that consideration.
But you have to recognise he's having a tremendous season. So (he is) probably a contender—he is for us. Hopefully he can get there.
He is a great, great talent and to see him keep trying in the last minute exemplifies the talent that he is.
Taking the ball, receiving it, getting fouled in between, getting up—he has got stick for staying down - but he gets up and gets on with business and managed to score a great goal.
Villas-Boas might deserve a bit of credit as well. Unlike his brief spell at Chelsea last season, the Portuguese manager seems to fit well with Tottenham. Under AVB's guidance, Bale has matured into a more complete player.
No longer chained to the touchline as an out-and-out winger, this season Bale often moves in and out of the middle, searching for touches and testing the defense for openings (h/t to Sam Tighe of B/R).
The graphic below illustrates the location of Bale's passes against West Ham.
The next graphic shows Bale's heat map for the same match (both images via Squawka).
After years of showing promise, Bale this season is demonstrating an ability to combine raw physical attributes of speed and power with intelligent play. Meanwhile, a more central role in the attacking third has freed him to become a match-winner.
The results have been astounding, especially lately.
But does that mean he's the best player in the Premier League this season? As EPL Index points out, he is currently the most in-form goal-scorer in the league, even ahead of Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Liverpool's Luis Suarez.
Be sure to leave your thoughts below.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!