Tottenham Hotspur finally broke down a resolute Sunderland defence to see themselves win 1-0, and spiral into third place. Spurs tormented the Black Cats all afternoon, with 31 shots toward Jordan Pickford in the Sunderland goal. It was a well-deserved victory then for the North London outfit, who will be happy to gain a victory after a disappointing Champions League defeat to Monaco last week.
Son Heung-Min played a pivotal role in the constant attack of Pickford’s goal. His constant and energetic running ability caused havoc for Jason Denayer, who had only been brought in moment before kick-off when a mystery injury kept Patrick Van Aanholt from starting.
The South Korean has had a sudden revival this season, with Sky Sports analyst Thierry Henry saying after the match that Son was now a definite starter in Pochettino’s line-up, after this man-of-the-match display. His new found determination could be seen clearly by his desire to return to train for Spurs rather than play in a South Korea match. Pochettino even admitted that the winger chose to stay and fight for Spurs, after asking to leave in the summer. This new determination and fight looks even more remarkable considering his mind was elsewhere in the summer, and his mentality will allow him to become a fan favourite.
From the start against Sunderland, he was on the attack. Playing like a man wanting to impress, the 24-year-old put in endless crosses. Spurs put in 30 crosses during the match, and Son put in half of them, a total of 15. His best of the bunch came early on, when it was laid on a plate for Harry Kane, only for the striker to have his effort saved. It was unfortunate for Son that only Kane was in the box for many of his crosses, as his delivery was on point throughout the day.
Defender Denayer was in trouble from the off-set. With little preparation time, he was thrown in with a real job to stop the number seven playing. Son conducted 11 take-ons during the match, and had Denayer running backwards, making himself dizzy for most of the game. His effort that hit the outside of the post had arisen because he was brave enough to take two of the Sunderland defenders on and cause them to leave space for him to shoot.
A major asset to Son’s play is his passing. During the game, he had a pass accuracy of 90%, and over the season he averages an accuracy of 86%. This is even more remarkable when it is considered that the top assister of last season, Mesut Ozil, has a pass accuracy of 91% this season. Many people would not have expected the South Korean to have as much quality on the ball. Son’s ability to find a team-mate does then seem underrated, but it helped the build-up play and the fast counter-attacks during the game.
The South Korean has two goals and one assist already this season. He only scored four league goals during the entire campaign last year, and so already he is looking more dangerous in his overall play. It was evident in this game as well, as every time he picked up the ball he had his head down and was running into the heart of the Sunderland back-four.
It might have only finished 1-0, but it could have been many, many more. Spurs fans will be very encouraged by what they saw, especially by the recent form of the best player on the park, Son Heung-Min.