Tottenham supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their side pick up a 19th Premier League victory of the season at the weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men went into their meeting with Newcastle United, who beat Manchester City a few days earlier, off the back of edging past both Fulham and Watford in their preceding two league encounters, and knowing that victory over the Magpies on Saturday would move them to within four points of leaders Liverpool. And three points they got thanks to Son Heung-min’s strike seven minutes from time to seal a narrow 1-0 success for Spurs, which at the time moved them above City into second place, only for the Citizens to leapfrog them with a 3-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
Nonetheless, there have been many thrilled Tottenham fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be heaping praise on goal-scorer Son for coming up with the goods at time whereby his team really needed it.
The North Londoners were heading towards a frustrating draw against Rafa Benitez’s side, only for Son, who returned from the Asian Cup much earlier than anticipated given South Korea’s surprise early exit, to fire past Martin Dubravka to seal victory for Spurs.
And while the 26-year-old will rightly come in for praise for delivering the key moment on Saturday, his tenth Premier League goal of the season, it was defender Jan Vertonghen who was the real hero behind Tottenham’s success at Wembley at the weekend.
The Belgium international lined up at left back for the first time in the league this term as Pochettino switched to a back four to begin with against Newcastle, which resulted in Vertonghen touching the ball a staggering 142 times over the course of the 90 minutes – that was 24 times more than the next-highest Harry Winks (as per WhoScored).
And in completing 88 of the 101 passes he attempted, the 31-year-old once again proved his capabilities on the ball in picking a pass and helping to launch attacks – he even completed his one and only dribble to underline his willingness to help out going forward.
Yet it was defensively against a strong and physical Newcastle side in which Vertonghen really proved his worth, what with the defender winning both of the aerial duels he contested, and indeed both of the tackles he attempted.
Add in a team-high four interceptions and two clearances, and it’s clear that the Belgian ace was often in the right place at the right time to thwart Newcastle’s advances – they were few and far between, but Vertonghen showed the concentration and composure needed to invariably deal with them.
And while Son’s strike will earn many plaudits from Spurs fans up and down the country, it was the efforts of Vertonghen that helped lay the foundations for the South Korean to deliver the goods – that is why the £27 million-rated defender (as per Transfermarkt) was the real hero behind Tottenham’s vital victory on Saturday.
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