With news that Gareth Bale will be out for two weeks after limping off the pitch against Fulham, who do we turn to in his absence?
Gareth Bale has been in inspirational form over the past week as we charged back up the table with three wins on the bounce. But he limped off against Fulham with a hamstring problem on Saturday, and now reports say that the injury could sideline him for up to two weeks. With our talismanic winger in the physio room, who can fill in for him over the next few weeks?
There's a few ways AVB can choose to line up the side.
The most like-for-like replacement we have for Bale is young winger Andros Townsend. Pacy, left-footed, and possessed of great foot skills, he's the only other true winger we have in our squad. And the least likely option to see time in the Premier League while Bale's sidelined. I'd love for him get a chance, but I don't think AVB will select him ahead of more senior players.
Another youth option is exciting attacking midfielder Iago Falque, but his inclusion seems just as unlikely. Expect one or both of them in the Europa League on Thursday, but I'd be very surprised if either of them line up against Everton this weekend.
Given how AVB handled Bale's injury on Saturday, we'd be more likely to see either Dempsey or Sigurdsson on the left, with the other slotting in behind Defoe. This worked out very well for us in the final 30 minutes against Fulham, with Deuce and Siggy combining beautifully with each other and with Defoe as we scored two goals to seal the win. It wouldn't surprise me at all if AVB opted again for what worked so effectively the last time out.
But the most likely scenario is the return of Emmanuel Adebayor to the side. After serving out the three-match ban for his moment of madness against Arsenal, the Togolese striker is once again available for selection. AVB will probably return to the pseudo 4-4-2 (with Adebayor operating more like a #10) that worked so well against Maribor and for 17 minutes against Arsenal. In this scenario, we'd probably see Dempsey shifted out wide to replace Gareth Bale.
Whatever AVB chooses, it will be difficult to replace the devastating brilliance we've seen from Bale recently, and the whole team will have to up their game if we want to maintain our winning ways.
Who do you want to see fill in for Bale this weekend? Dempsey out wide with Adebayor up top? One of our youth players? Or something totally out of left field like Defoe wide with Brad Friedel behind Adebayor? Let us know!
How should we fill the Gareth Bale-shaped hole in our lineup?
Andros Townsend (56 votes)
Iago Falque (72 votes)
Clint Dempsey (with Siggy in the hole) (84 votes)
Gylfi Sigurdsson (with Deuce in the hole) (94 votes)
Adebayor and Defoe up top, Dempsey out wide (329 votes)
Something totally bonkers (43 votes)
678 total votes