Gareth Bale accepts being targeted by defenders

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The Independent Football

Tottenham talisman Gareth Bale has no problem being kicked by Barclays Premier League defenders - as long as referees keep sending them off.

The past eight days have seen Liverpool's Martin Skrtel and Wigan's Steve Gohouri both shown red for bringing down the flying Bale, who has looked looked virtually unstoppable in recent weeks.

Manager Harry Redknapp has urged officials to continue protecting his prize asset from over-zealous defenders, and Bale is prepared to suffer if it helps Spurs continue to win games.

"It's not nice but I suppose it's a compliment when you're playing well and people want to drag you down," he told Spurs TV Online.

"There have been two sent off in the last two games, so they can keep kicking me if they want as long as they get sent off."

Bale has become renowned for his lung-busting runs, devilish crosses and spectacular strikes, but Saturday's win at Wigan saw him demonstrate another string to his bow as he headed home Luka Modric's corner.

"We've been speaking about making runs from corners," said Bale after what was his first Premier League goal since New Year's Day.

"It's always good to get you head on it and get a goal.

"I've scored a few goals in the air now.

"Hopefully, I can score a lot more, on the floor and in the air."

Bale's new-found aerial prowess could not be worse news for Arsenal, who are set to be the winger's next opponents if he is rested - as expected - for Thursday's Europa League game with Shamrock Rovers.

The Gunners, who have a disappointing defensive record from set-pieces, travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday for the first north London derby of the season.

Bale said: "It's a massive game, even for the fans.

"We need to keep looking to win, get on a run, keep looking up the table.

"Hopefully, we can post a good win going into the international break."

Rafael van der Vaart was controversially left out of Spurs' Europa League group-stage squad but he admitted that could be a good thing this week.

"Sunday's a big game coming up," the forward said.

"For the fans, for everybody, it's the biggest game of the year.

"So let's beat them."

Van der Vaart, who last week completed an incredible recovery from a hamstring injury that was expected to rule him out for more than a month, added: "I'm getting there, getting fitter.

"You need the minutes, you need the games, and I'm happy that I can play the games again.