South Korea

On Song Son Key to Tottenham’s Hopes This Season

Harry Kane grabs the goals and most of the headlines, Christian Eriksen is usually cited as the ‘critics’ choice’, but there are few players who have been as important to Tottenham’s good form this season in the same manner as Son Heung-min. The South Korean is beloved by Tottenham fans but is perhaps one of those players whose exploits don’t get highlighted by the (British) media in the way they deserve.

Spurs have been quietly brilliant over the last few months, inserting themselves right in the mix of the Premier League title race with Liverpool and Manchester City. In December especially, Spurs really found their stride, hitting 20 goals throughout the month. There were blips to be sure: the defeat against Arsenal hurt, and Spurs were strangely subdued in the defeat at home to Wolves. But they are now on the shoulder of Manchester City and will fancy their chances of reigning in Liverpool at the top.

South Korean arguably Asia’s best player

The star of the show in December? Arguably, it was Son, who scored five goals in the run-up to Christmas, putting him on course to eclipse his best tally of 14 goals scored in the 2016/17 season. As mentioned, his talents aren’t always trumpeted in the media, but he is undoubtedly one of the very best, if not the best, Asian players in Europe. Performances this season have been appreciated by Spurs fans and, most importantly, by Mauricio Pochettino.  

Spurs are 25/1 with William Hill to win the Premier League, a fair distance behind favourites Liverpool at 8/15 and champions Manchester City at 13/8. Is Spurs’ price a fair one, given that they are just a few points from the top? You would have to argue that the bookies have underestimated Tottenham here, with Mauricio Pochettino’s mean not far enough behind City and Liverpool – both in terms of talent and points – to merit such long odds.

Spurs odds-on for the Top 4

However, given the nature of the ‘Big 6’ teams in the Premier League, it can be argued that finishing in the Champions League places is an accolade in itself. The current Top 4 betting odds make for good reading if you are a Spurs fan, with bookies like Betfair and Paddy Power going 1/7 that they finish in the Champions League spots at the end of the season. They have created a gap between themselves and London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal, who are priced at 1/4 and 3/1 respectively. At the time of writing, they have a 10-point lead over Manchester United, who are priced at 7/2 for a Top 4 finish.

Would a Top 4 finish satisfy the ambitions of Spurs fans? It’s a tricky question to answer, given the quality of the other sides in the Premier League. It’s been one of the very few criticisms leveled at manager Mauricio Pochettino during his time in charge at Tottenham, the fact that he has yet to win a trophy, but it is nevertheless an achievement to finish in the Top 4. Consider the difficulties that Manchester United have had reaching that goal over the past few years, despite vastly outspending Tottenham. 

Like Tottenham, by and large, Son’s performances have gone under the radar this season. But his critical contributions have put his club in a strong position, where they have a puncher’s chance of winning a first ever Premier League title. If that happens, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, and the manager will get the headlines. But the Spurs fans, who see the South Korean’s impact week in week out, know the value of Son Heung-min and just how crucial he is to their hopes this season.