Gary Neville discusses Gareth Bale's progression and the North London derby on Monday Night Football
Gareth Bale is progressing into a 'world class' footballer, Gary Neville told Monday Night Football.
Last Updated: 26/02/13 9:57am
That's the view of Gary Neville after he watched the Welshman net twice during Tottenham's 3-2 win over West Ham on Monday evening - a powerful strike after 13 minutes to open the scoring and a fine dipping effort in the 90th to seal the victory.
Bale has notched eight of Spurs' last 10 goals and Neville told Sky Sports that the 23-year-old's performances in "big matches" and his ability to thrive in multiple areas of the pitch are helping him become one of the best players on the planet.
"When people talk about world class, you think about influencing the biggest matches; Tottenham aren't in the Champions League, but he is influencing lots of big matches now," said the former Manchester United defender.
"He is scoring and assisting goals on a regular basis, as all the best players do, and only Robin van Persie (19) has earned more points for his team in the Premier League this season than Bale (15).
"He is a completely different player; he is progressing, getting better, fitter, stronger and tougher and not just staying out on the left wing. He played off the frontman against West Ham and his main body of work was in the central areas.
"He didn't run in behind too much but it is the sign of a great player that when you drop off he can do things in front of you - and both of his goals came when West Ham defenders weren't sure whether to go tight to him because they thought he was going to go past them.
"And his second goal was out of this world as not only did it require incredible talent to kick the ball as hard as that, but it was as such an important part of the game. He is a young lad and will be tested further but he is special - and every mighty football club will be looking at him.
"You get the feeling we've seen something special; it was the best game we've had on Monday Night Football all season and West Ham played their part in it, but Bale was the difference."
Tottenham's win at Upton park propelled them above Chelsea and into third spot in the table, while a victory at home to fifth-placed Arsenal on Super Sunday would lift the White Hart Lane troop seven points clear of their North London rivals.
Neville believes a Spurs triumph will all-but secure Andre Villas-Boas' men a spot in the Champions League next term, but thinks Arsene Wenger's charges could give their opponents cause for concern in this weekend's tussle.
"If Spurs can beat Arsenal and go seven points clear of them with 10 games to go you would think that, with confidence and the form Bale is in, it would give them a great chance of getting into the Champions League.
"They were hurting last year after the technicality with Chelsea and they want to climb that mountain. They have really got the bit between their teeth - and I think they will (be in the top four at the end of the season)."
Neville continued: "Arsenal won't be able to plan for Bale because he will prey on anybody he likes, but they certainly won't want to see him one-on-one with Mikel Arteta in central midfield when Tottenham are launching a counter attack.
"However, Spurs' Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen like to step out from defence and with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla on the ball and Theo Walcott running in behind, Arsenal could cause problems."