Tottenham have recorded their best start in the top flight for 51 years, going a point clear in second place with 4 wins and 2 draws from their opening 6 fixtures. Following a 2-1 away victory of Middlesborough, we look at the key take-aways from this match.
1. Just how good is Heung-Min Son?
Very good. 6 goals from his last 6 premier league games, with 4 in 3 this season is an outstanding return. In reality he probably could have had more, failing to net despite create ample opportunities against Sunderland last week. His second goal on Saturday, dribbling through a series of Borough defenders before unleashing on his right, is surely one of the best pieces of individual brilliance witnessed in 2016. Capable of an unstoppable finish, perhaps only the consistency of this finishing is lacking a little. But when he gets it right, it just goes in. A real weapon on the left for Spurs.
2. What was the deal with the refereeing?
Graham Scott had a shocker. Missed a clear yellow card early when Kyle Walker dived tackled erratically in on George Friend. Missed a clear penalty at 2-0 when Dele Alli was blatantly shoved forward in the box. Arguably missed one or two other Spurs penalty claims, and overall did not really see to have a hand on the art of applying yellow cards. Only his sixth Premier League game, so deserves some slack, but may not get his seventh for a while yet.
3. Vincent Janssen.
Reminiscent of Mark Viduka in his pomp at Leeds United. His strength and hold up ability is top class. Backs into defenders and keeps them at bay yet allows the ball to continue moving forward. His lay off to Son for 1-0 was evidence of just how important those skills are. Would no doubt like a goal from open play, and needs to work on his tendency to blast the ball way over the net. Looks too good a player for the goals not to come, and is influencing the play in Harry Kane’s absence. Just needs to get a greater percentage of his shots on target.
4. Room for improvement in front of goal.
We saw time and again last season that a young Tottenham side was made to pay at 1-0 or 2-0 up for failing to put away chances. Spurs suffered up the most lost points from winning positions last term. They have managed to avoid that ignominy thus far, but Dele Alli’s miss from close range, one from Son and Janssen’s inability to work the keeper almost came back to prove very costly at the end of the match. Mauricio Pochettino even acknowledged this fact post-game.
5. Set Pieces.
Ben Gibson’s 65th minute header was just the third goal Spurs have conceded in the league this season. They are yet to concede from open play, but Gibson’s effort made for a nervous final 15 minutes for Tottenham that they could have avoided. Goals from stoppages were an issue last season, and they still are now. If they can find a way to prevent goals from aerial balls into the box, their formidability as a unit and miserly defence will improve even further.