EMMERSON Boyce is confident Wigan Athletic will be able to contain arguably the Premier League’s deadliest weapon this weekend when Tottenham visit the DW.
Spurs are flying at the moment after disposing of champions Manchester City last weekend, a victory inspired by Welsh wizard Gareth Bale.
Bale is the red-hot favourite to be named the PFA’s Player of the Year on Sunday after a sensational campaign when he has, at times, carried his side single-handely towards a top-four finish.
And Boyce acknowledges Latics will have to remain switched on at all times if they are to contain him in a must-win game for both sides.
“Bale’s world class – he’s shown what he can do for both Tottenham and Wales pretty much every week this season,” Boyce told the Observer.
“His pace and his goalscoring ability put him up there with the most dangerous players in the Premier League. He’s also added another dimension to his game this year – the ability to come inside and play in a ‘No.10’ role – and we all have to be aware of that on Saturday.
“All we can do is treat him as just another opposition player, but we’ve managed to do quite well against him over the last couple of years so fingers crossed.”
Boyce will be hoping for a repeat of Wigan’s 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane earlier in the season, when Bale struggled to make an impression against a determined rearguard.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a couple of good games against him in the past, and as a team we’ve managed to keep him relatively quiet,” added Boyce.
“It’s obviously a new challenge on Saturday, though, and we’ve all seen what he’s done to even the best teams with the best defenders so we’ll have to be on guard.
“I actually enjoy the challenge of playing against players like Bale – you want to play against the best players in the world.
“There’s no better way to test yourself as a player against the very elite players.”
Not that Boyce and the rest of the Wigan defence will be focusing their attention solely on the 23-year-old.
“We can’t afford to be just thinking about Bale,” the Wigan defender recognised.
“You look at the rest of their team and there’s (Jermain) Defoe, (Emmanuel) Adebayor...basically half their team are world class.
“They’re all capable of hurting you if you give them the chance, and the challenge for us is to make sure they don’t get that chance.”