|Bale opened and closed the scoring for Tottenham who continue fantastic run of form [GALLO/GETTY]|
With Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal dropping points over the festive period, Tottenham snuggled down in third position after an emphatic 2-0 victory over Norwich on Tuesday.
Gareth Bale continued his superb form scoring both Tottenham goals and striker Emmanuel Adebayor showed ball control that might make Manchester City regret loaning him to one of their main rivals.
Norwich never gave up the fight despite falling behind at the start of the second half to a Spurs side who look to be really enjoying their football.
Tottenham now find themselves four points clear of Chelsea in fourth and only seven points behind leaders Man City and Man United with a crucial game in hand.
Fifth placed Arsenal are also looking up at their London rivals, a remarkable fact considering Tottenham have never finished ahead of the Gunners in the history of the Premier League.
Welsh winger Bale revived memories of his performances in the Champions League last season with an impressive individual display, capped by goals in the 55th and 67th minutes.
While his first was a simple close-range shot after good work from Emmanuel Adebayor, his second was more memorable, bursting through the middle before supplying a deft finish over Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy.
“If there’s one game to go and we’re still in with a chance (of winning). It’s not impossible but Manchester City and Manchester United look so strong. “
Playing it down, Harry Redknapp
Bale emerged as a potential superstar in a breakthrough 2010-11 season in which he won the English league’s Player of the Year award.
His talent was already well known in Britain but fans worldwide were given a taste of his pace and power when he ripped apart the defences of Italian giants AC Milan and Inter Milan in Champions League games.
His displays this campaign have been slightly more subdued but he was unstoppable against Norwich at Carrow Road, where he could feasibly have scored four of five times.
A 27th-minute shot deflected just wide before he ran clean through following a defensive blunder by Russell Martin, but blazed high and wide as he lost his balance with only Ruddy to beat.
Bale then drew a smart save out of Ruddy in the 35th as Norwich somehow reached the interval without conceding, despite having been given a footballing masterclass from the visitors.
Spurs, who were unfortunate to only draw 1-1 with Chelsea last week, found their cutting edge in the second half through Bale.
Adebayor, who was a menace to the Norwich defence all game, displayed some impressive close control when surrounded by a cluster of defenders before laying the ball off to Bale, who sidefooted past Ruddy from 10 meters.
Adebayor had a goal disallowed for offside in the 66th but Bale made it 2-0 a minute later, running onto a pass from Luka Modric, powering clear of Zak Whitbread before chipping Ruddy.
“If there’s one game to go and we’re still in with a chance (of winning). It’s not impossible but Manchester City and Manchester United look so strong. We want to get back in the Champions League, if that’s possible,” said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp.
Redknapp and his players are reluctant to consider themselves serious contenders for the title but if they carry on like this they won’t be able to deny it for much longer.
Earlier on Tuesday, Arsenal squandered the chance to move into fourth place in the EPL by being held to a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Wolves.
“It is very frustrating. You won’t play many draws like that in a season but sometimes it can happen,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters.
“We still lack a bit of maturity. The way I have seen the game today it will be one draw out of 50 but it was that one
today. What happened in the game can happen.”
Gervinho’s eighth-minute opener for Arsenal was cancelled out by Steven Fletcher seven minutes before half time, before Wolves held out for the final 17 minutes with 10 men at Emirates Stadium following the straight sending-off of Nenad Milijas for a studs-first tackle.
|Referee Stuart Attwell sends off Nenad Milijas (20) of Wolves during 1-1 draw [GALLO/GETTY]|
Robin van Persie, the league’s leading scorer with 16 goals, wasted a number of chances in both halves for Arsenal, who stayed fifth – a point behind Chelsea and 12 behind the top two, Manchester clubs City and United.
Draws on Monday by leaders City, Chelsea and Liverpool gave Arsenal a great opportunity to make up some ground in the title race, but Fletcher’s goal against the run of play and Wolves’ defensive approach made it a tough assignment for the hosts.
Visiting goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey also had an inspired match, denying Van Persie several times as Arsenal laid siege on the Wolves goal for much of the second half.
“Wayne Hennessey was fantastic. I think he is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and he proved that today,” said Wolves boss Mick McCarthy.
There was another 1-1 result at the Liberty Stadium as Queens Park Rangers ended their three-match losing streak in the Premier League by rallying to a draw at Swansea.
Jamie Mackie scored QPR’s equaliser when he got in behind Swansea’s notoriously stubborn defence from a long clearance to stab home a finish in the 58th minute.
Fellow striker Danny Graham had given the Welsh team the lead in the 14th minute when he curled a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area for his sixth league goal of the season.
The draw lifted 16th-placed QPR three points clear of the relegation zone after 18 games. Swansea have two more points in 14th.