Spurs’ consolidation of their top four position in the Premier League was accomplished through South Korean attacker Son Heung-min who shone with two superbly taken goals against a Middlesbrough outfit lacking confidence in the aftermath of two straight defeats to Crystal Palace and Everton. Spurs were ebullient in the first period, full of energy, and should really have confirmed the victory before Graham Scott blew his whistle for half time. Vincent Janssen’s excellent hold-up play enabled Son to dart forward, leaving three opposition defenders in his wake, and hand Spurs an early lead. Son’s second was even better; reaching the bye line, the forward turned back and rifled a shot into the far corner to double Spurs’ advantage. The London side could have had three had the referee awarded a penalty and Dele Alli spurned a glorious opportunity following Christian Eriksen’s superb pressing. Middlesbrough grabbed a goal back through Gibson in the 65th minute, giving Spurs a nervous final half an hour.
Son into the spotlight
Heung-min Son rose to the occasion once again for Spurs, continuing his great form in the league with a further two goals to add to his ever-growing tally. The South Korean’s directness was something the club were perhaps missing last season, with Erik Lamela’s tendency to cut inside and Christian Eriksen’s shooting abilities meaning he was less likely to reach the bye line to put in a cross. Son provides this outlook on the game, and his corners have been much-improved this season. Whereas Eriksen and Lamela’s corners often don’t go further than the first man, Son’s corners are far more dangerous, putting defenders into uncomfortable positions – his set pieces were particularly impressive in the Sunderland win at White Hart Lane a week ago. Son was influential in the game and Spurs would probably not have all three points if the Korean hadn’t started.
However, some credit must be directed towards Netherland’s striker Vincent Janssen who was attempting to deputise for the injured Harry Kane. His hold-up play was again influential this afternoon, with Son’s first goal stemming from the Dutch attacker’s work. His constant pressure and energy have certainly been welcomed by Spurs supporters and it appears that Janssen will get assists as well as goals up front.Embed from Getty Images
Middlesbrough’s goal was scored from a set-piece and it appears there is a recurring problem of defending set pieces this season. It only took five minutes for us to concede a set-piece in the league this season with Ross Barkley’s freekick managing to go all the way through the bundle of attackers and defenders and into the back of the net in the 1-1 draw with Everton. Pochettino likes to employ a zonal marking system – we have seen the benefits of this system before in the Premier League (look at Rafa Benitez’s defence with Liverpool) and it is a system that has the ability to gain you rich dividends. But Spurs are yet to look confident defending set pieces under Pochettino and will be looking to improve in the coming weeks if they are to challenge for a Premier League title.
Pochettino has been handed several selection dilemmas; whereas last season all supporters would have been able to correctly guess the starting eleven for each match, this season Pochettino has the options available to mix it up this season. With Wanyama and Sissoko capable of playing in a defensive midfield role, Spurs didn’t miss Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele as much as they would have last campaign and up front Vincent Janssen was effective in replacing Harry Kane. It is now more or less impossible to name the Spurs starting eleven for the next match; with Alli, Eriksen, Lamela, Sissoko, Son and N’Koudou all fighting for the attacking positions, Pochettino will have to ensure they receive sufficient playing time this season.
Overall, it was a convincing performance from the lads; a couple of seasons ago we might not have been able to hold out for all three points, but now we are using the word ‘spursy’ less frequently, although there were hints of it following Middlesbrough’s goal. In all truthfulness, we should have finished the opposition off in the first half and our inability to do so nearly cost us, but, remaining confident, it’s another three points on the board and the victory leaves us in a good position heading into tricky Champions League and Premier League games this week. COYS!