Football Features

Spurs smash Burnley 4-0 with Gareth Bale bagging a brace to mark the Return of the King

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 16:12, 28 February 2021 | Updated: 19:45, 10 September 2021

In a one-sided afternoon of football, Spurs demolished Burnley 4-0 at Tottenham Stadium.

The victory was impressive in its totality and it lifted Spurs back above Arsenal in the Premier League table. But as much as José Mourinho’s men played well in their totality, this game was all about one man and one man only: Gareth Bale.

The Welshman was an indescribable force of footballing genius when he was last in the Premier League back in 2012/13. The kind of player who could take the game by the scruff of the neck and just perform miracles seemingly on call.

At Real Madrid he was never consistent but always spectacular, especially on the biggest of stages in the Champions League final (where he has three goals in four finals and four wins in five years). In the end his Madrid adventure ended in misery and he was turfed out to Spurs on loan almost as an afterthought. Like, of course that was the only move he could make, the nostalgia of him returning “home” would blind anyone to the decline of his footballing ability.

His second spell at Spurs had looked underwhelming. Was this really Gareth Bale? He had the same build, the same stature, but none of the same presence. Things he tried didn’t come off, he couldn’t find space nor build rhythm because he barely played.

He was omnipresent in the Europa League against inferior opponents, but in the Premier League he played just eight games before today and what’s interesting is that Spurs had lost the last four times he took the field.

Today, however, everything changed.

For the first time since the start of November, Spurs won a Premier League game with Gareth Bale involved. But Bale wasn’t just involved, he started and was absolutely fundamental to the win.

José Mourinho and Bale had both looked past their best lately but today they united to terrorise poor Burnley. The Portuguese coach has taken his time with Bale, never rushing him back into the first-team picture. As a result Bale has built up his confidence and fitness steadily and hit this game like a sledgehammer to the spine.

Bale had scored within 90 seconds, a neat run and clever finish to give Spurs the lead. He looked a menace whenever he had the ball, and picked up an assist for his pass through to Harry Kane for Spurs’ second-goal.

In the second-half, Bale capped his own display and crowned the victory with a stunning left-foot finish from the edge of the box. A bit of classic Bale remixed for a new era, the gelled side part replaced by the sharp topknot. The no. 11 wearing no. 9 but leading from the front every bit as much as Harry Kane.

Bale was later subbed to protect him, but his performance now creates an interesting power dynamic in North London. Sure, Harry Kane is obviously Spurs’ best player but if Bale keeps on playing like this (he now has four goals and three assists in his last four games) then we have to question just who is Spurs’ most dynamic presence? And with so much talent in attack how far can Spurs go?

Again, no one would dispute Harry Kane’s excellence but today very much felt like the Return of the King.