Mar 13, 2017
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How Son Heung-min repaid Mauricio Pochettino’s faith in Tottenham’s FA Cup victory over Millwall

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Tottenham reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday after a superb home performance against Millwall. It was billed as a tricky test for Spurs, but they came through with ease and scored six goals during the process. There was an early disappointment as Harry Kane was brought off after only ten minutes as he contracted an ankle injury. This was the last thing that Mauricio Pochettino would have wanted as the team relies on his goals. There isn’t an obvious replacement for the England international, but one player managed to further their first team chances on Sunday.

Son Heung-min is a frustrating attacker as he can produce moments of magic, but he can be equally poor in the final third. His versatility makes him a valuable member of the Tottenham squad and he started this afternoon in one of the attacking midfield positions behind Kane. After the injury to the team’s top-scorer, Son was moved into a striking position and he thrived. It spoke volumes that Pochettino opted for the South Korean over Vincent Janssen and the manager’s faith in the 24-year-old was repaid with an excellent performance. If Kane is going to be injured for a significant amount of time, Tottenham’s number seven could be the one to benefit.

 

During the match, Son was a constant threat with his movement and positioning in the final third. He kept finding pockets of space and regularly made the correct decisions when he had the ball at his feet. His first goal was great to watch, as he carried the ball into the box from the right wing and curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner. His second was equally as impressive as he expertly controlled a first-time volley after a ball was played through over his shoulder. The South Korean then completed his hat-trick thanks to an error made by the Millwall goalkeeper, but he deserved it after one of his best performances in a Tottenham shirt.

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Aside from his form in front of goal, Son was at the centre of everything good that Tottenham did in the final third and he showed that he can offer a lot more to the overall play than somebody like Janssen. He completed six key passes during the match, which was more than any other player on the pitch. This underlines the impact that he had on this game and he made the most of his opportunity up front after the early withdrawal of Kane.

 

Son is very good at running with the ball and his dynamism adds an extra edge to the Tottenham attack. He completed four of his six attempted dribbles on Sunday. It may have come against League One opposition, but Millwall have been in excellent form recently and the South Korean deserves a lot of credit for his attacking performance. Although he was selfish at times, the 24-year-old showed that he has good vision in the final third as he opted to pass the ball to Janssen for the fifth goal, rather than trying to get his hat-trick. It was a complete display from Son and he will be full of confidence ahead of a crucial period for his side.

Since joining Tottenham, Son has failed to secure a regular starting position, but he is a crucial squad player and he certainly has a big role to play before the end of the season. The extent of Kane’s injury isn’t yet known and that will have a huge effect on the South Korean’s playing time. If the club’s top scorer is going to miss the next few matches, Son will be the man who gets the opportunity to lead the line. Based on this performance, he should be an able deputy.

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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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