EPL

Bale enjoying return to form but warns: I'm not 21 anymore

By Sports Desk March 07, 2021

Gareth Bale is not sure he can return to the consistent standard he set in his first Tottenham spell despite enjoying a rich vein of goalscoring form.

Bale has supplied six goals and three assists over his past six appearances in all competitions, having only appeared for 70 minutes or less in each of those outings.

Prior to this superb stretch, the on-loan Real Madrid winger had netted just four times while failing to register a single assist across 16 matches.

Bale's most recent goals came in Sunday's 4-1 win over Crystal Palace in which an outstanding all-round display also included four key passes.

But, asked at full-time if Spurs fans could expect him to replicate the output that saw him involved in 37 goals in 44 games in 2012-13, earning his move to Madrid, the 31-year-old was hesitant.

"Time will tell," Bale told Sky Sports. "I'm not 21 anymore. It is what it is.

"I'm just going to keep working hard every game, taking each game as it comes, and we'll go from there.

"Your body changes over time. You haven't got that kind of youthfulness where you can recover quickly and keep going sprinting for 90 minutes.

"You learn your body as you get older and that's what I'm having to do."

He added: "I feel good. It takes a bit of time sometimes, but I'm experienced enough to be patient. It is what it is.

"You have to feel good, and you have to feel good then to take your opportunities.

"Football's a strange thing; you can go through bad form and good form. It's just about being patient, and when you get your chance, try to take it."

Harry Kane scored Tottenham's final two goals, having created each of Bale's efforts. He became the first Spurs player since Jurgen Klinsmann in 1998 to net at least twice and assist at least twice in the same Premier League match.

The link-up between Kane and Bale would have encouraged coach Jose Mourinho, but the England captain also combined with Son Heung-min for the fourth goal.

Son's assist meant the pair have laid on 14 goals for one another in the top flight this season, a new competition record.

And Bale was amused by the suggestion Son, without a league goal in a month, might be jealous of the partnership the Wales superstar and Kane are enjoying.

"[Kane] is fantastic, an incredible striker," Bale said. "He showed that again tonight and he's been so consistent.

"It's a fantastic performance again from him. We're lucky to have him here.

"Sonny's fine. Obviously all of us want to score, but we all know the most important thing is we score for the team to help the team to get three points and we keep moving on."

Dele Alli, resurgent in recent weeks, did not even make it off the bench, and Bale said of Mourinho's attacking options: "That's why I came here.

"The attacking players we have is amazing – not just the ones who played tonight, but the other ones as well on the bench. We're all pushing each other and it's nice to get the three points again.

"There's a lot of fighting for places. You have to stay on your toes, keep working hard, and we're in a good moment, getting the confidence back and hopefully we can keep it going."

Related items

  • Liverpool 1-1 Crystal Palace: Nunez sees red as Diaz rescues point with wonder strike Liverpool 1-1 Crystal Palace: Nunez sees red as Diaz rescues point with wonder strike

    It was a mixed night for Liverpool's South Americans as Darwin Nunez was sent off on his home debut, but Luis Diaz scored a wonder goal to earn a point for the 10-man hosts in a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace.

    A frustrating night for Jurgen Klopp's team appeared to be heading for defeat after Wilfried Zaha's first-half opener and Nunez's dismissal just before the hour.

    Diaz's superb individual effort got his team level, though, before last season's Premier League runners-up set about trying to find a winner but to no avail.

    It represents another early season blow to Liverpool's hopes of running champions Manchester City close again in the title race, already four points behind their rivals, but as with their opening draw against Fulham, it may feel like a point gained for Klopp in the circumstances.

    Liverpool started brightly as they tried to find an early opener, with Nunez mishitting a volley at the far post, while Mohamed Salah also went close to scoring from Trent Alexander-Arnold's pull back, but the Egyptian’s side-footed attempt whizzed just wide of the near post.

    After absorbing so much at the other end, it was Palace who took the lead in the 33rd minute when Eberechi Eze got away from Fabinho before playing Zaha in on goal, with the Ivory Coast international placing his shot past Alisson into the bottom-right corner.

    Liverpool thought they were level just before the break as Harvey Elliott's chip found Nunez down the left side of the penalty area, but his deflected shot came back off the post.

    Things went from bad to worse for Nunez as the Uruguayan reacted to being shoved by Joachim Andersen by pushing his head into the Dane, with referee Paul Tierney immediately producing a red card for the Liverpool striker.

    However, the Anfield atmosphere soon improved as Diaz dribbled inside several Palace defenders before unleashing a rocket of a shot past Vicente Guaita's despairing dive to his left.

    The hosts tried to find a winner despite having fewer players, though Palace could also have won it when Zaha missed a great chance at the far post, but both were forced to settle for a point.

  • Atletico boss Simeone lauds Felix after three assists, but admits he is unsure about Morata's future Atletico boss Simeone lauds Felix after three assists, but admits he is unsure about Morata's future

    Diego Simeone says "things come naturally" to Joao Felix after he starred in Atletico Madrid's season opener win over Getafe, though the Argentine admitted that Alvaro Morata's future is out of his hands.

    The duo were the star performers for the Rojiblancos as they helped steer their side to a 3-0 win on Monday evening, with the former bagging all three assists and the latter netting a brace.

    It marked an impressive return to the field in Atletico colours for both, with Felix having spent the end of last season sidelined through injury, and Morata spending the prior two campaigns on loan at Juventus.

    Felix, in particular, delivered an assured performance that showcased his growth for Simeone, who said the Portuguese star's talent helps his game speak for itself.

    "He looks more mature, stronger," he stated. "He showed last season until he had to leave due to injury. He is growing, [he] shows maturity, [he] sees more than the others.

    "You don't have to force anything. Things come naturally and he has worked to get to this point. He has talent, he has a goal, and hopefully he can support everything he says here on the field."

    Morata famously signed for Atletico following a loan move from Chelsea in 2020, only to promptly be loaned back out to former club Juventus for the subsequent two seasons.

    The subject of his future remains up in the air beyond the end of the transfer window, and Simeone admitted he does not know what the next steps will be for the Spanish international, though he hopes for the star to remain.

    "I am not the owner of the club, I am the coach," he added. "He is doing very well, working in an extraordinary way, and we hope that Morata will continue with us.

    "I think that all footballers have to have confidence to do important things. He came with humility, desire to work, without demanding anything, striving to get to this shape and that is what we want to see."

  • Juventus 3-0 Sassuolo: Di Maria and Vlahovic inspire comfortable victory Juventus 3-0 Sassuolo: Di Maria and Vlahovic inspire comfortable victory

    Dusan Vlahovic struck a brace to help Juventus to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sassuolo in the opening match of their Serie A campaign on Monday.

    The Serbian forward struck five minutes either side of the interval to put the Bianconeri in control after Angel Di Maria marked his Juve debut with a maiden goal at the Allianz Stadium.

    Massimiliano Allegri's side were not at their best in possession but made their chances count, with their attacking contingent laying down a marker to their rivals.

    A shaky start from the hosts provided Sassuolo with encouragement and called Mattia Perin, in for the injured Wojciech Szczesny, into action to deny Gregoire Defrel on two occasions.

    Juventus soon found some rhythm and made the breakthrough when Di Maria met Alex Sandro's cross by bouncing a volleyed effort over the head of Andrea Consigli.

    Five minutes before the break, Vlahovic bullied Gian Marco Ferrari to win the hosts a penalty and stepped-up to confidently smash home from the spot to open his account for the season.

    Sassuolo were the architects of their own downfall following the restart, Kaan Ayhan giving the ball away to Di Maria who fed in Vlahovic to double his tally and continue in the vein that saw him star last term.

    Juventus took their foot off the gas in the remainder of the half to ease out a win, with Filip Kostic introduced for the final half hour in a comfortable debut environment.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.