With 7 goals and 5 assists in his last 6 games, the newly crowned Asian footballer of the year Son Heung-min, is currently the most inform player in Europe.
The game against Manchester United at the weekend will be his last before he flys out to The UAE to play in the Asian Cup. Losing a player of that quality will be a blow to a Tottenham team still competing on 4 fronts. Will our form dip without him? Will it open up the door to another player to claim a regular starting spot?
How long will he miss?
This depends entirely on how far South Korea make it into the tournament. They are the clear favorites to go all the way and lift the trophy. They have already qualified from their group and are through to the knockout stages so he will defo miss the game away to Fulham
If, as the odds suggest, South Korea reach the final in Abu Dhabi on 1 February he could miss league matches against Fulham, Watford and Newcastle, as well as the second leg of the club’s Carabao Cup semi-final clash away to Chelsea.
The first game he would be free to play in would be the home game against Leicester on the 10th February. Don’t get too excited just yet though! After leading South Korea to the Asian Games title at the start of the season Pochettino eased him back into the starting line up gradually, getting just a 17 minute cameo against Liverpool and playing 67 minutes at Brighton. Although he started the next 2 he clearly wasn’t at his best. He was given a rest/dropped for the next 2 and it seemed to do the trick as he came back firing. Do not be surprised if he get limited or no minutes against Leicester. The games after Leicester are a potential FA cup 5th round game and then a blank for Tottenham in GW27 (if we beat Chelsea to reach the Carabao Cup final). Meaning there is a very real possibility that he wont feature again, FPL wise, until Chelsea away on the 27th February.
How will his absence effect Tottenham?
For most of 2018, much of his player persona leaned heavily on dribbling and chance creation, hardly surprising for someone who primarily operates as one of the three behind Harry Kane in Poch’s 4-2-3-1.
However, since he got back in the side, Son has undergone a dramatic transformation into a deadly goal scorer. His surging form has not been the product of some seismic tactical shift. Instead, he is profiting from often being the one from the trio operating behind Kane to sense a goalscoring chance, break into the box and finishing with aplomb.
He has been in staggering form of late, directly contributing to 12 goals in his last 6 games. On occasion, he has been Spurs’ most-advanced player, someone willing to go beyond Kane and establish the closest thing resembling a partnership with the forward. It has certainly worked recently, and Son’s upcoming absence will be sorely felt by Kane and the rest of the squad.
It’s not just his goals that will be missed, he has been putting in many more crosses recently. On a positive note, this may mean more crosses coming in from our fullbacks?
What do the stats say?
I wish I hadn’t looked at these stats, they have depressed me! In the nine Premier League games Kane has started without Son, he has scored three goals.
In comparison, Kane has started 11 times in the Premier League alongside Son, scoring 11 goals in the process.
A similar effect can be seen on the team as a whole. In the 10 Premier League outings in which Son failed to start, Spurs have scored 16 goals at an average of 1.6 per game.
When Son starts, this rate increases to 2.9 goals per game, with North London’s finest having scored 32 goals in 11 Premier League games.
Of course, these stats take into account the start of the season where Kane, and most of the team were knackered so I don’t believe it’s a true reflection of how we will perform without Son.
How will it affect Harry?
To be honest, not too much I don’t think. Kane’s game has evolved somewhat this season. He has been playing a much deeper role, often being behind Son. He has been winning the ball from deep, playing it out wide then he arrives in the box. The benefit of this is that he is able to get a run on the opposition. At times this season he has been a more stationary figure and has been marked out of games. If Lucas is the man to assume the ‘Son’ role Harry can continue to come from deep. Considering that Lucas doesn’t register as many attempts on goal as son It’s entirely possible that we will see Kane having even more shots. Cha-Ching
Who will replace him?
The obvious choice would be Lucas, but he has picked up a knee injury. It shouldn’t be anything to worry too much about but it does cast a little more doubt over who will replace Son.
Lamela is fit again but probably not fit enough for a start just yet and of course there is always Llorente!
There is another possible replacement for Son……..no one. Vertonghen is now approaching full fitness again so we could see a return to a to 3-4-2-1 in a setup like this:
Verthongen Alderweireld Sanchez
Trippier Sissoko Winks Davies
Personally, I think that Lucas will be the man to come in. Alli, in a recent interview, maybe gave something away when he suggested Lucas would be the man to fill a Son shaped whole in the team. It is worth noting that of the 8 returns Lucas has bagged this season only 3 have come when Son has not been on the pitch. This shouldn’t put you off though. If Kane continues to play in a deeper role then essentially you have a 6.9m midfielder, playing out of position for a free scoring team that sits 3rd in the league. This is the kind of thing that FPL managers dream of. It may only be for 3 or 4 games but trust me I’ll be all over Lucas like a cheap suit.