TEAMtalk comparison: Bale v Walcott

Former Southampton Academy team-mates Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott went head to head on Sunday - and TEAMtalk evaluates their displays.

Last Updated: 03/03/13 at 21:42 Post Comment   

Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott: We evaluate their displays

Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott: We evaluate their displays

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Both Bale and Walcott are having decent seasons on the goal-scoring front so we decided to put them under the microscope for Sunday's north London derby, which Tottenham won 2-1 to pull seven points clear of Arsenal.

TEMPERAMENT

With his superb form, it was no surprise to see Welshman Bale look to get on the ball as early as possible. However, the Spurs midfielder was initially well marshalled as Arsenal often doubled up to try to nullify his threat. However, Bale would not be caged and first moved out wide before then cutting back into the middle, where his off-ball running helped open Arsenal up just before the break.

Deployed wide on the right, Walcott was keen for possession, but often lacked support when attacking the last defender. However, the England forward stuck to his task and produced a fine free-kick to set up Per Mertesacker's header which pulled a goal back at the start of the second half.

LINK-UP PLAY

As expected, everything went through Bale as Spurs recovered from a poor first half-hour. Often drifting through midfield, out wide one minute and then coming into a more central role, Spurs fed off their talisman and made the most of Arsenal's static back line to strike a double blow just before half-time. Bale again was key as Spurs looked to hit Arsenal on the break, with a superb diagonal pass releasing Jermain Defoe clear.

Walcott put a shift in down the flanks, but was given little options by his team-mates when in promising positions around the penalty area. After some poor deliveries in the first half, the 23-year-old finally found his range with a good free-kick, which Mertesacker glanced in on 51 minutes.

FINISHING

Bale coolly despatched his first real opportunity to give Spurs the lead just before half-time, latching onto a perfectly-weighted pass from Gylfi Sigurdsson to guide the ball into the far corner. However, the Welshman's radar was off in the second half when be blasted a cross from Benoit Assou-Ekotto high over the bar after arriving late at the far post then shot straight at Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with a fierce volley.

Walcott was hustled out of the one chance which did come his way in the first half, unable to get a shot off from just inside the penalty area. He headed a right-wing cross over on the hour before smashing a late 25-yard free-kick wide. Other than that, it was a frustrating afternoon of slim pickings for the 18-goal forward.

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