Being a one-man team is just fine so long as that side routinely picks up wins. Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale put his team on his back for the third time in under two weeks on Saturday, leading Spurs to a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at White Hart Lane. Tottenham's lack of a true hitman up top has yet to cost them since Jermain Defoe went down to an ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for at least three weeks, and Bale's current form is that of a top class player who is refusing to allow his team to lose.
Tottenham 2-1 Newcastle: Unplayable
That, in a word, is the best way to describe Bale's performances in Tottenham's past three league contests. He announced his intentions to dominate the action in the early moments of play when he sped down the left wing and past the Newcastle defense before delivering a cross that beat Clint Dempsey to the center of the box by just a couple of inches. The Welshman didn't squander his second chance to produce a goal, though, when he curled a 25-yard free kick over a Newcastle wall that, minus one player, didn't move. The ball then bounced to the left of goalkeeper Tim Krul, who couldn't react fast enough after being hung out to dry by his teammates.
Bale's second, the match-winner, came as a result of his blinding pace, a clearance that was delivered without much purpose, Emmanuel Adebayor out-muscling his marker, and a miscommunication between two Newcastle defenders. When all was said and done, it was Bale who was left streaking into the left side of the penalty area twelve minutes from time. Krul did well to close off Bale's angles, but the 'keeper couldn't prevent the winger's strike from deflecting off his legs and into the back of the net. The Dutchman will certainly believe he should have done better, but fate was against him on this day that belonged to Bale.
Tottenham 2-1 Newcastle: Worthy of criticism, but...
Tottenham fans had every right to be upset with Adebayor following the fiasco that was the Togo forward failing to return to London following the African Cup of Nations until late in the week. You also can't ignore that Spurs improved vastly in the second half once Ade was subbed on for Lewis Holtby. Make no mistake about the fact that Bale's second goal doesn't happen without Adebayor holding off a defender and maybe/maybe not flicking the ball ahead (I couldn't tell via replay if he actually got a touch).
When he's fit and he fancies doing so, Adebayor can be a difference maker for Spurs. Manager Andre Villas-Boas now has to find a way to keep what is currently his only available senior forward interested. Bale will, in theory, eventually stop scoring. Somebody will have to fill the void when that day comes.
Tottenham 2-1 Newcastle: Players of note
Bale will deservedly get all the headlines following this game, but two other Tottenham players were also standouts for me in the win over Newcastle. Michael Dawson will want to forget the 24th minute of the match, when he failed to close down Yoan Gouffran before finding himself the victim of a strike that sailed off his back and into the top-right corner of the net. Dawson was mostly solid following that moment, however, and he came up with no fewer than four clutch blocks that helped keep the visitors from finding a second.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris once again showed why Spurs were so keen on acquiring him last August despite having Brad Friedel in the squad. Lloris twice came off his line to prevent Newcastle from scoring, and his denial of Shola Ameobi two minutes into stoppage time was the most important stop of the contest. It's awfully hard to earn Champions League without having a world class goalkeeper. Good thing for Spurs that they have one.
Tottenham 2-1 Newcastle: Overall
Spurs were far from flawless in their latest win. Moussa Dembele could use at least a week off following Thursday's Europa League match against Lyon, the Tottenham back line visibly missed Jan Vertonghen in both halves, and Dempsey showed that he probably isn't a long-term answer for Tottenham up top while Defoe is nursing his ankle problem. When you've got a superstar like Gareth Bale playing his best football of the season, you've always got a chance to earn at least a point. Chelsea's defeat of Wigan keeps Spurs at fourth in the league table, but that's OK.
Top four will be good enough this time around.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.