Despite having more than a third of the season left to play, footballers up and down the country are casting their vote for the PFA Player of the Year and just like two years ago, the timing of the vote could be crucial for Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.
Bale’s 2011 PFA Player of the Year award came during a season defined by impressive performances on the continent, none more so than the hat-trick against Inter Milan in the Champions League and a similar televised run in the Europa League could give Bale another advantage this time round.
A brace of free-kicks against Lyon in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 just two weeks ago might have swayed some of the voters, but Bale’s late strike against West Ham on Monday did much to confirm the Wales’ international’s growing reputation and match winning ability.
Bale’s free-kick taking has shown significant improvement this season and the extended practice on the training ground is beginning to pay off for the former Southampton player. Two of Bale’s 15 goals in the Premier League have come from direct free-kicks and the anticipation of Bale standing over the ball seems only second to that of Cristiano Ronaldo puffing out his chest for Manchester United in recent years.
A hat-trick against Aston Villa back in December was Bale’s first in the Premier League, capping another landmark for the Wales international and the Tottenham midfielder’s increasing goal threat can even rival that of his more illustrious opponents.
Even from wide on the left, Bale has managed to fire in more shots on target (51) than both Robin Van Persie and Luis Suarez, whilst a shot accuracy of 57% in the Premier League simply cannot be bettered by either player.
Bale’s performances for Tottenham have not gone unnoticed and the fact that many now mention Gareth Bale’s name in the same breath as the world’s two leading stars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi tell you all you need to know about the Welshman’s performances for Tottenham this season.
At odds of 3.00, Bale offers significant value within the football betting markets, but Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie remains the odds-on favourite at 1.40 to land the PFA’s most coveted prize.
Van Persie has been arguably the difference for Manchester United this season and the Netherlands international’s 19 goals in the league have helped fire the Red Devils into an almost unassailable 12 point lead at the top of the table.
Van Persie’s goals and contribution in the Premier League is simply unrivalled and the Dutch striker’s 11 assists serve in stark contrast to the one goal that Bale has made in the Premiership all season.
Performances over the coming weeks traditionally swing votes and the Premier League’s most in-form player could push Robin Van Persie close for this season’s award.
Jonathan Day is a leading football betting expert in the UK, specialising in Premier League and European football. Jonathan currently writes for Sportingly Better, a football betting blog that offers free football tips and betting predictions. Follow Sportingly Better on Twitter or Facebook for all the latest betting tips.