Philippe Coutinho has contributed to eight goals in only 13 appearances for Liverpool, Arsenal are flat-track bullies and Gareth Bale likes shooting from range...
The Premier League season has only been over for about 20 hours and already we're well into the summer-type Mailbox. Plus, a shout for the 2014 player of the year...
In this country there are certain attributes that sportsmen, whether native or overseas imports, simply cannot handle. English cricketers can't handle spin. No matter if we top the ICC world rankings, we know that, especially on foreign soil, a decent left-arm spin bowler could easily instigate another middle order collapse.
Football is not immune to the very British trait of succumbing to the unknown. We saw man of the moment Gareth Bale gifted all the time in the world to fire Tottenham to yet another three points against West Ham on Monday, with many questioning why a player of his ability was given so much time and space to pick his spot.
What people have to appreciate is that Bale has three of elements to his game that naturally make him the nemesis of defences - a left leg that isn't just for standing on, pace to burn and trickery that would make Debbie McGee go weak at the knees - a potent mix that no-one in the Premier League knows how to handle.
As a veteran of Saturday morning football (very poor standard Saturday morning football), I often find that when I'm up against one of those alien left-footed beings I don't know which way to stand, and usually end up falling over my own feet trying to work out why my opponent is using what is normally a standing leg to control the ball. Of course, in the Premier League the defenders are obviously of a much higher calibre, but they can often seem similarly puzzled.
There just aren't many left-footed players around. Solving the left wing conundrum has been a perennial thorn in the sides of England managers, with central midfielders - notably Paul Scholes - and strikers, such as Emile Heskey, played out of position to fill the role and 'do a job'.
Bale has exploited this unfamiliarity to become one of the stars of the Premier League this season, and he now looks a good shout to be crowned Player of the Year, regardless of whether Spurs continue their current form or not.
Bale has achieved his recent success by developing the threat of his left foot through sheer hard work. He is now benefitting from that graft, scoring goals for fun and capitalising on the added freedom bestowed on him by Andre Villas-Boas. Harry Redknapp may have turned him from a frustrating full-back into a dynamic winger (even if this came about by accident) but Villas-Boas has created a whole new beast altogether.
Stewart Downing is a great example of a player blessed with a useful left foot, without ever being spectacular. He has carved a career for himself by just having the ability to use that limb to cause confusion without ever reaching the heights Bale has reached so far this season.
While Downing plays for one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, he is far from being a world beater, and has been the butt of many jokes owing to the substantial fee Liverpool paid for him amid Kenny Dalglish's costly transfer policy. The reason the Reds splurged £20million on a player who seemed to peak at Aston Villa is that he possesses the rare natural ability to use his left foot - a gift few other players in the top flight share.
The best example of the advantage of being left-footed is Ryan Giggs, who signed a new one-year deal at Manchester United on Friday to ensure he will complete his 23rd season in the first team next year. Giggs has put his astonishing longevity down to the benefits of yoga, which he says has added flexibility to his ageing limbs and given him the added energy needed to ensure he can still compete at the highest level.
I disagree. It defies standard logic that a 39-year-old can still play on the left wing and go on mazy runs like he does, so there must be something that he has that others cannot replicate. It is, of course, his left-footedness. If Giggs hadn't made a name for himself at Old Trafford with his dazzling performances on the left, would he still be at the club 22 years after making his debut?
Giggs is obviously a rare breed, and also possesses the footballing nous that many players cannot rival. But without his majestic left foot, I very much doubt he would be where he is today.
Similar to his compatriot, Bale has the ability to cause serious problems for petrified right-backs across the Premier League (Maicon is probably shuddering as I write this). But the 23-year-old has also used the added strength of being able to cut inside and take the threat of his powerful left foot across the front line. Note his winning goal against West Brom, for example. The Baggies' defence must have expected Bale to cut inside, but no-one could close the winger down quick enough before he rifled his shot into the corner.
He has also developed a greedy streak, which furthers the comparisons to his role model, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. This means that with his added freedom and growing confidence Bale has focused less on providing this season and more on scoring. So far, he has managed an impressive total of 19 goals - three-quarters of which have come from his left foot - but only six assists, compared to 12 goals and 14 assists last year.
Ask Spurs fans whether they prefer Bale to score or provide, and the former will win unanimously. Goals win games, and his late winners have been the sole reason Andre Villas-Boas' team are, for once, not showing any signs of faltering at the business end of the season. If defenders continue to gawp at his left-footed skill as he drifts past them towards goal, Spurs can aim to not only secure a Champions League spot, but perhaps also a best-ever third place finish in the Premier League
Pete Hall - follow him on Twitter.
Nonsense article which gives many examples of it's own inaccuracy. Downing is left-footed and rubbish, Ronaldo is right-footed and amazing. Giggs and Bale have benefitted from being really rather good, nothing to do with their natural left foot. If they were right-footed they would have been every bit as good.- nicobellik