Garth Crooks is absolutely right - 'infuriating' Tottenham 'would be sunk' without shining performer

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Spurs have heavily relied on Son Heung-min this season.

Oftentimes, when people have a limb amputated, they talk afterwards of experiencing unscratchable itches in the place where their appendage once was. For something so absent to be felt so keenly, and for there to be no obvious resolution to the irritation, must be frustrating beyond all imagination. Perhaps it is a sensation that Tottenham Hotspur can relate to a little.

When Harry Kane left North London last summer, it must have felt somewhat like losing a body part. The England captain was not only one of the most prolific goalscorers in the Premier League, but had become intrinsically linked to Spurs' overarching identity as a club. The question on everybody's lips in the days and weeks after he sealed a big money transfer to Bayern Munich was, 'How do you replace him?'.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And in truth, Tottenham didn't. Or at least, not in a conventional sense. While Ange Postecoglou's playing staff have notably strengthened in several key areas during the transfer windows that have followed Kane's departure, the only out-and-out centre forward they have signed is 20-year-old Argentine striker Alejo Veliz. Instead, much of the responsibility of emulating their former talisman has been shouldered by players who were already on their books, and in particular, new club captain, Son Heung-min.

On Saturday afternoon, it was once again their skipper who Spurs were able to lean on when it mattered most. In the 86th minute of a cagey affair against relegation-threatened Luton Town, Son swept home a decisive (and deflected) strike to secure a 2-1 win and keep his side breathing down the neck of fellow Champion League hopefuls Aston Villa. It was an intervention that would earn him a spot in Garth Crooks' Premier League Team of the Week for BBC Sport.

Speaking on the South Korean, and Spurs writ large, the veteran pundit said: 'After their diabolical performance against Fulham before the international break we saw Tottenham make very hard work of a game against Luton that should have been routine. What happened to the team that blew Aston Villa away? And why Tottenham have to wait to go a goal behind before they realise the game has started is hard to fathom.

'What is infuriating is Tottenham's levels of inconsistency. One minute they look world beaters, the next perennial losers. Fortunately the only consistent player for Spurs these days is Son Heung-min. Without him they would be sunk.'

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And to an extent, it is hard to argue with Crooks. So far this season, Son has recorded 15 Premier League goals and a further eight assists. As a team, Tottenham have scored 61 over the course of the campaign so far, meaning that their captain has been directly involved in 38% of them, or, to put it another way, almost four in every 10.

But even more striking is how influential those contributions have been. Only once has Son scored or assisted in a game that Tottenham have lost this season, and if you were to remove all of his immediate input, a quick tally tells you that without him, Spurs would be some 17 points worse off. That kind of deduction would be enough to knock them from the relatively lofty perch of fifth, all the way down to twelfth in the table.

Of course, the counter-argument is that Son is in the team to do exactly what he has been doing: creating and finishing chances. It is also no great crime for a club to rely on their best players in their pursuit of success.

But a glance at the numbers also makes it painfully clear that Crooks is highlighting a valid point; Tottenham are heavily, heavily reliant on the 31-year-old. The sooner they can act to bring in some kind of accomplice to ease Son's burden, the better.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.