Ex-Saint one of the Premier League's best ever

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

First published in Premier League

GARETH Bale could be worthy of comparison with the best players in Premier League history.

That is the view of West Ham’s Joe Cole after the former Saints academy starlet scored two cracking goals for Tottenham in last night’s 3-2 victory at Upton Park.

Cole thought he had won the game last night when he put his team 2-1 up in the second half, but Bale's second strike in the dying seconds left the Londoner in awe of the flying Welshman.

"Our goalkeeper was fantastic and we looked strong at times, but you can't help the goal from Bale - it's world-class," Cole admitted.

"He could be up there with the best players in the Premier League's history.

“He has still got some work to do, but he has certainly got the potential to be up there with the (Cristiano) Ronaldos and the (Thierry) Henrys that this country has seen.

“He is great to watch, but he's a nightmare to play against, unfortunately."

Scott Parker thinks Arsenal will be feeling "deflated" at the prospect of facing Tottenham following Bale's latest last-gasp winner last night.

With just 10 seconds left on the clock, Bale struck a 25-yard thunderbolt to give Spurs a 3-2 win which moved them up to third ahead of Sunday's crunch north London derby at White Hart Lane.

Bale has now scored 19 goals for Spurs this season, including eight in his last six matches.

Four of those goals have come in the final 15 minutes, and some of them, like his second last night, have been top-class strikes that came out of the middle of nowhere.

When asked what he thought Arsenal's players would make of seeing Bale's killer goal fly in, Parker said: "It's deflating isn't it?

“I've been in that position where you're watching the scores come up (on television) and it goes 'last minute goal at wherever' and you're praying it's the other team - and it isn't, it's the team that you don't want to score. So it is deflating as a player on the opposite end, and I'm sure the Arsenal players are like that.

"I'm sure they'll be thinking they need to concentrate on themselves and try to win the game against us, and if they win the game against us it goes down to a point so it's going to be tight."

Tottenham players usually need no motivation when it comes to north London derbies, but they have the added incentive of knowing that derby glory would move them seven points ahead of their bitter rivals with just 10 games left.

Tottenham were in a better position this time last season, but they surrendered a 10-point lead over Arsenal and ended up playing in the Europa League, although that was largely thanks to Chelsea's victory in Munich.

Parker does not want a repeat performance this term.

"What happened last year drives us," the midfielder said.

"It's a focus and it's something we're aware of. We've worked really hard this season to get where we've got, and we can't afford to fall off it."

Tottenham have not finished above Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League for the last 18 years. In that time Arsenal have won three titles thanks to the exploits of the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

But Parker thinks Spurs now possess players, like Bale, who Arsenal are envious of.

"I think we've got players in our squad that obviously Arsenal would want any day of the week," Parker said.

"Tottenham have probably always been in the shadows of Arsenal a little bit. I don't know if the pendulum's turning - Arsenal are still a top club and a top side - but certainly we've narrowed the gap."

Two incredible performances against Inter Milan in 2010 alerted Europe's top clubs to Bale's talents, but the Welshman has gone on to improve considerably since then.

The 23-year-old can now operate as effectively down the middle as he can on either flank and his logic-defying free-kicks have led to comparisons between the former Saints youngester and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Words can't really describe how well he's playing at the moment," added Parker, who was booed throughout his first return to Upton Park since leaving for Spurs.

"Yet again he stepped up and got the three points. He was fantastic."

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