“Cheers. Son’s flying. Nice one.”
That tweet from the Tottenham Hotspur admin said it all. We’ve hit peak Heung-min Son. Arguably in the best form of his career, the South Korean has been sensational since the start of December after a somewhat inauspicious start to the season.
Three goals and two assists until the end of November wasn’t terrible, but more was possible. And his dazzling solo goal in Spurs’ 3-1 victory over Chelsea, when he sent David Luiz every which way with his fast feet and direct running, was indicative of as much.
Higher levels have since been reached, and Son has scored at a rate of 0.82 goals per game since the 4-2 defeat at the Emirates on December 2nd, a better return than Harry Kane’s 0.73 goals per game in the same period.
That’s nine goals and seven assists — including back-to-back braces against Everton and Bournemouth — in his past 11 appearances. He’s scored six and made five assists in his past five games in all competitions, and has scored and assisted in the same game four times since November. Absolutely phenomenal, the sort of statistics that earn you a ‘difference-maker’ label.
From a Tottenham perspective it’s a nightmare, whereas rivals are relieved to see a player that’s contributed 27 per cent of the club’s 33 goals since the start of December leave for the Asian Cup, which began on Saturday.
“I feel very sorry,” Son commented on his Asian Cup involvement this month. Cheers. Son’s crying. Nice one.
Unsurprisingly, Spurs fans are fretting over his absence — commencing after Manchester United’s visit next weekend — as Son could potentially miss league fixtures against Fulham, Watford and Newcastle, as well as a vital Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea. This, naturally, is contingent on how far South Korea progress in the United Arab Emirates.
Spurs won’t only miss his return in front of goal, though. Additionally they’ll miss his infectious energy, complementary link-up with Kane and directness on the ball, one of few in the squad that boast this trait. Son is a player exuding confidence and that, similarly, will be deeply missed.
Step forward Lucas Moura. Ably deputising at the beginning of the season with three league goals in his first three appearances, the Brazilian’s end product has declined significantly. Three more in his subsequent 16 league games speaks for itself. As too does his first assist of the season against Tranmere Rovers in Friday’s FA Cup mauling. There’s also the argument that Lucas’ positioning is more of a hindrance to Kane than a help, as the 26-year-old often gets into the same spaces as the England captain. Any sense of understanding is lacking.
Erik Lamela, Tottenham’s most polarising player, has only featured in four games out of the past 11 due to injury reasons and can’t be relied on as Son can.
Perhaps there’s a compromise that can be reached between him and Lucas. Spurs are going to need it.