Nov 12, 2017
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Son Heung-min ready to hit form for Tottenham ahead of the festive season

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Tottenham are the most improved club in England during the last two seasons, as they have grown from top-four challengers to Champions League contenders.

The Lilywhites recent win over Real Madrid showed that they could not only qualify for the competition but come out on top against some of the best teams in Europe.

The main reason for their growth has been Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine coach has an excellent tactical mind and is very good at getting the best of the squad available to him.

Nearly every player at Spurs has improved under the tutelage of the coach and that is no mean feat.

Dele Alli and Harry Kane are the poster boys in attack, while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are often talked about as two of the best defenders in the Premier League.

However, there are a number of unsung heroes in the Tottenham squad. One of their most important players is Son Heung-min. The South Korean doesn’t start every match, but he contributes with key goals and assists when he does get the opportunity to play.

The last week has been a good one for Son, personally, as he scored the winning goal for Tottenham in the Premier League against Crystal Palace, before following that up with two goals for his country against Colombia.

The former Bayern Leverkusen winger is a good finisher and his movement in the final third causes defences a whole host of problems.

His intelligence is what makes him so dangerous, as he anticipates what is going to happen ahead of time and takes up the right position to take advantage of that.

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Against Palace, his goal came when the ball dropped to him on the edge of the penalty area and he finished smartly past Julian Speroni.

It would be wrong to suggest he knew the ball was going to arrive at his feet, but he took up a good position and gave himself a chance of becoming active.

How has his season been so far?

It will have been a frustrating one as he has been rotated and played in a variety of positions, including both wings, left wing-back and as a striker.

It would be his preference to be given a run of games in a single position, but he recognises his own value as a utility player in the Tottenham squad.

Pochettino has been regularly changing his tactics to suit the opposition and in Son, he has a player he trusts to fulfil a specific role.

At the time of writing, Son has scored twice in the Premier League and once in the Champions League.

He has yet to contribute an assist in either competition, but his underlying stats highlight his influence in the attacking half. The 25-year-old is averaging 2.66 shots and 1.42 chances created per ninety minutes in the Premier League.

These are fractionally down from last season’s averages of 3.48 and 1.91, but it is early in the campaign and he has yet to be given a sustained run in the team.

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It was during Harry Kane’s absence at the beginning of this year when the South Korean found his form.

There were fears that the injury to the striker would derail Tottenham’s season, but Son stepped up to fill the void and Pochettino was the first to praise his performance after their 2-1 victory over Southampton in March.

“It was good. He had some chances, great movement in behind and connected with Dele [Alli] and [Christian] Eriksen. I was very, very pleased.”

The Argentine has a lot of faith in his players and would have been hoping for Son to perform in the absence of his star striker, but even he would have had minor doubts.

The comments above show how pleased he was with the deputy striker and it was the 25-year-old’s goal-scoring form that prevented Tottenham spending big on a striker in the summer.

Although his attacking stats are down from last season, Son is now contributing more off-the-ball as highlighted by his ball-winning stats.

He is averaging 0.71 tackles won and 0.71 interceptions per ninety minutes. Last season, he averaged 0.48 tackles won and 0.3 interceptions per ninety minutes.

Pochettino demands that his players work hard out of possession and the South Korean international is more than happy to do his bit.

He is relentless in his pressing and can never be faulted for a lack of effort, something that has become ingrained into the DNA of the team as a whole.

READ MORE:  Tottenham 2-0 Brighton: Son Heung-min strikes again as Spurs bounce back

Can he push on after the international break?

The last week has been a reminder of Son’s ability and match-winning qualities, as he has scored three times in two matches for club and country.

For South Korea, he is a key player and his role reflects that, but it is different for him at Tottenham, as he has to take his opportunities when they arrive.

He manages to do that more often than not and his winning goal against Crystal Palace should be enough to earn him more game-time after the international break.

Tottenham have a great attacking trio of Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen, but they will need to rely on Son to play a big role this season, especially if they want to progress in the Champions League.

Pochettino works his players hard and there have been signs of fatigue during the second half of the season in previous campaigns. This was improved last season, but if Spurs go deep into multiple competitions, it will be a concern again.

As a finisher, Son is one of the most reliable in front of goal and is very effective from range, as he has shown on several occasions since joining Tottenham.

He is capable of producing a match-winning moment from nothing when the team are playing poorly and that was the case against Crystal Palace last weekend.

The 25-year-old is never going to have the hype of Kane or Alli, but he is just as important for Pochettino’s side.

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Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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