Even if Tottenham Hotspur were to fail in executing what two months ago seemed unthinkable, in overhauling what was a 12-point advantage at the top of the table for current leaders Chelsea, for Mauricio Pochettino’s side to remain in the title race for so long, due credit is deserved.
Their remarkable feat continued with their 4-0 triumph over Bournemouth at White Hart Lane over the weekend, and much of Spurs’ strong run of form is owed to one of the most improved players in Pochettino’s squad this season, South Korea international Son Heung-Min, according to former Tottenham player and current BBC Match of the Day pundit, Garth Crooks.
Son was on the score-sheet again over the weekend, grabbing the Lilywhites’ second goal of the game on the way to their romping of the Cherries, and may yet break the record for the most goals netted by a South Korean in European football within a single season. His strike against Bournemouth was his 19th in all competitions, taking him level with Cha Bum-Kun, who scored the same amount in 1985/86 for Bayer Leverkusen, incidentally the club from whom Spurs signed Son.
This season has been of marked contrast to the difficult debut year the versatile attacker endured in England in 2015/16, and Crooks has lauded his contribution to the team throughout the campaign, particularly so during the spells where star striker Harry Kane was out on the sidelines.
“Tottenham’s win against Bournemouth was a walk in the park and it was Son who led the Cherries by the nose”, Crooks wrote in his Premier League Team of the Week column for BBC Sport.
“There are a few players in the Tottenham set-up who have distinguished themselves this season but the most improved Premier League player in my opinion is Son. He was brilliant against Bournemouth and seldom lets Mauricio Pochettino down when called upon.”
Crooks hasn’t been the only familiar face to heap praise on Pochettino’s men either, with former Tottenham star striker and fans’ favourite Dimitar Berbatov equally as complimentary when speaking as a guest on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday programme.
The Bulgarian forward netted 46 goals in 102 appearances for Spurs before a big money move to Manchester United in 2008, after having helped Spurs to a League Cup Final triumph at Wembley, which remains their most recent piece of silverware to date.
Although his former side are impressing far more in the league of late than in the previous decade, despite not yet having any trophies to show for their achievements, Berbatov was adamant that there is no element of luck about the club’s exploits under Mauricio Pochettino, claiming that the Argentine has assembled a side that he’d love to be part of.
“Tottenham are one of the challengers for the title. They are where they’re supposed to be,” Berbatov said, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.
“Spurs goals aren’t lucky, they play from defence to midfield to the strikers with accuracy…I would love to play in this team”.
Much of Berbatov’s praise was for the man now filling his boots, homegrown talisman Harry Kane, whose goal-scoring feat of 20+ goals for three consecutive seasons eclipsed the record that Berbatov himself managed at the club.
Kane himself was back on the score-sheet at the weekend, having made his first start since returning from the ankle injury incurred last month in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Millwall.
“He’s up there with royalty, if he continues like this,” Berbatov said of the England international.
“I think Alan Shearer has now set him a target of scoring 30 goals every year, which would be great for him as well, but I think he’ll manage to do that. He’s still young, still developing, he’s going to become even stronger and I wish him all the best.”
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