Football Features

Do Tottenham have the Premier League’s deadliest front three on current form?

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 20:20, 9 April 2022

Son Heung-min registered a second-ever Premier League hat-trick as Tottenham ran out 0-4 winners at Aston Villa this evening.

Antonio Conte’s men, who are entrenched in a fascinating battle to reach next season’s Champions League group phase, put their hosts to the sword on a day that saw top-four rivals Arsenal and Manchester United slip up.

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Both suffered respective shock defeats against struggling Brighton and Everton; by grabbing all three points, the Lilywhites leapfrogged the Gunners into fourth place, opening up a three point gap, although their North London rivals have a game in hand. Meanwhile, the Red Devils are seventh and six points behind Spurs with West Ham sandwiched between Arsenal and United with seven matches remaining this season.

Since a 3-2 loss at Old Trafford last month, they’ve now pulled off a four-game winning streak, netting 14 goals while conceding just twice. Responsible for converting exactly half of those has been Son, who put together another immaculate display in the UK’s ‘second city’. His first, and Spurs’ opener, was scored while the clock read 2:45, much to Villa boss Steven Gerrard’s annoyance. “Analysing the first goal, a long straight ball we could’ve defended that better, they got a bit of luck but they’re ruthless in front of goal,” he said afterwards. Son’s next effort was also scored with his so-called weaker left foot.

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Interestingly, only teammate Harry Kane and Robin van Perise (both on 39) have netted on more occasions with their wrong foot than Son (35), who leapfrogged Sergio Aguero in this particular table. His second was created by Kane, meaning he provided his 21st Premier League assist for the South Korean. To put this into some perspective, only Frank Lampard has assisted a single teammate to score more times in league history (24 to Didier Drogba). This accounts for exactly half of Kane’s top-flight assists (21/42). Moments later, Son would complete his treble and by doing so became one of only eight players to score his first two hat-tricks in the competition both away from home, and the first since Alexis Sánchez in 2016.

Son, whose first hat-trick came at Southampton in September, has now moved onto 87 career Premier League goals. As for this season, no one has bagged more non-penalty goals (17) than Spurs’ influential number seven. In fact, you can make the argument Spurs’ forwards are currently the most lethal in England’s top division. At least outside the ‘big two’ of Manchester City and Liverpool.

In today’s showdown at Villa Park — aside from Son’s showing — Kane assisted twice, moving him onto eight for the campaign. Dejan Kulusevski, netted and created another, and only Kane (7) has created more goals in 2022 than him and only Son (9) has produced more goals so far this year than Kane (8). Putting this all together, the players with the highest totals for Premier League goals and assists combined in 2022 all play for the same team: Kane (15), Son (13) and Kulusevski (9).

To say Spurs are peaking at the right time would be an understatement. Conte’s team are looking irresistible and now face three sides below them before locking horns with Liverpool at the start of next month. For now, the Italian tactician can savour this latest momentous victory, while looking ahead.

“To be resilient is important if we want to be a top team, in every game there are moments when the opponent can create difficulty and if we are not strong you will never win something or do something important,” Conte said.

“We are going in this aspect, I’m very happy because I have a group of players who want to show me that they will improve in many aspects. When you have this you have to be happy to work with them and to try to do something important at the end of the season. Seven games to go and we are showing that we are deserving to stay in the race for a place in the Champions League.

“Hugo [Lloris] was amazing – we are talking about a keeper that has won a World Cup and everything with France, the captain of his national team and us. Important for us because of his experience, today we needed him and he answered very well.

“We created a good chemistry between ourselves and we can speak about Son [Heung-Min], but don’t forget Harry [Kane] and we have players on the bench who are important in Lucas [Moura] and Steven Bergwijn. We need to continue to work with this application and intensity and desire because the club deserve much better than fighting for fifth, sixth or seventh. I like to be competitive.”



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