Spurs vs Brighton Preview: How integral is Son Heung-Min? Striker's form key for Mourinho's title aspirations
It was a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, February 2, 2020. The Spurs were hosting a formidable Manchester City outfit. Pep Guardiola's men were on a roll and were primed for a top 4 finish with the sort of scintillating football they were showcasing. For the Spurs, changes were rung with Jose Mourinho replacing long-standing manager, Mauricio Pochettino. It was a game the Spurs needed to win to keep their top 4 finish hopes alive.
Reinforcements were inbound. They signed former PSV Eindhoven man Steven Bergwijn and he was handed a place in the starting XI. City was tough and the Spurs had to play their skins out to keep the visitors from scoring. For those who watched the game, Bergwijn netting the first one in and celebrating is a sight that wouldn't be forgotten. However, in what was an even better celebration and a memory that would forever be ingrained in a Spurs fan was when Heung-Min Son slammed one in to make it 2-0 against City.
The celebration is beautifully captured in Amazon's 'All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur'. Son Heung-min doubled the advantage in the 71st minute, firing low past Ederson. In celebration, he ran towards the coaching staff and went on a kneeling slide towards Mourinho who gestured him to keep coming closer. The astute tactician had a quiet smile on his face. And perhaps, that's when Mourinho knew Son was more integral to the Spurs 2020-21 title aspirations than he thought he would be.
There's Harry Kane— a synonym of consistency in the side already. Joining him is Son. The South Korean has managed to carry his prolific run from the last season to the ongoing Premier League and has been a vital cog in the Spurs outfit. The previous season saw him land 11 goals in his 30 appearances for the North London side. The record is even better this time around as he's found the back of the net eight times in six games.
Mourinho's men are poised for a top-four finish even if they miss the title shot. While most would feel it is an early prediction, the team stats say it all. Son, in particular, has shaped to be a massive threat for the other teams. The striker's versatility is his biggest strength. For Mourinho, there's every chance to play him as a winger, striker, and attacking midfielder, confident that he could deliver in any of these positions. His accurate shooting, precision control over the ball, and explosive pace are his hallmarks and the Spurs will look to utilize it to the max.
Which explains why Son's contract extension plans were an absolute no-brainer. He still has three years left, but recent reports suggest Daniel Levy is looking for a long-term future with the in-form striker. He joined Spurs from Bayern Leverkusen in 2015 for a fee of £22 million ($28.4m). What this does for his future is cement him as one of the Spurs' top three players alongside Harry Kane and Gareth Bale. Note that he actually is one already.
The Spurs are currently one of the best offensive teams in the league. Barring the few hiccups, they have had, they still stand sixth on the points table at the moment and a win against Brighton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday (November 1) would mean breaking into the top five. They have quite a few tough challenges after as they face West Brom, Manchester City, and Chelsea with a few Europa League games sandwiched in between the Premier League games.
There's no doubt Mourinho will be looking to keep his star striker fresh and injury-free as Spurs look to continue their impressive run. And Son will be key if they want to go the distance.
Kick-off is slated for at 2.15 pm ET on Sunday, November 1, 2020. The game can be watched live on Peacock.