MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after the game during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Son Heung-Min’s brace gave Tottenham a 2-1 win
Tottenham came out and played a lovely first half against Bournemouth today. Spurs raced to a 2-0 win behind Son Heung-Min’s brace. Unfortunately, they lost their edge at the half and were forced to hang on to a 2-1 victory.
In truth, Spurs should have enjoyed more than a two goal advantage at the break. They were completely dominant for the first 45 minutes and easily could have blown the game wide open. Once again though, Tottenham’s attack wasn’t clinical enough to really punish Middlesbrough.
The second half was a completely different story. Spurs still enjoyed long spells of possession, but they couldn’t find the third goal that would have killed the game off. Instead, Middlesbrough were able to find the back of the net in the 65th minute and force a pretty stressful finish.
Credit Tottenham’s squad in the end though, they were able to grind out the win to earn a crucial three points. It simply wasn’t a match where the club could afford to drop points. Read on to discover how each Spurs star played in the narrow win.
MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham Hotspur claps the fans after the game during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
This certainly wasn’t the Belgian’s best outing in a Tottenham shirt. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes, but he certainly didn’t stand out. He could easily have done more to stabilize things at the back during the second half. He wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a performance up to his usual high standards.
Fortunately for Alderweireld, his Belgian teammate did have one of his better performances on the day. Vertonghen was solid in defense and really aided the attack with his clean distribution from the back. He played one of his best matches of the young season.
It wasn’t Walker’s best day either. He picked up a silly yellow card in the second half that provided Middlesbrough a semi-dangerous free kick. He showed some good energy going forward, but didn’t really accomplish anything on the day. The fleet-footed right back played hard, but not particularly well on the afternoon.
For me, Danny Rose can’t get fit fast enough. I have real concerns over whether or not Davies has the quality required to play for Spurs. He just doesn’t do anything dynamic out on the pitch. He did fire a dangerous cross into the box, but otherwise his match was a pretty anonymous affair.
Lloris didn’t have a ton to do on the afternoon. He certainly wasn’t at fault for the Middlesbrough goal and he came off his line several times to prevent potential scoring opportunities. It was a solid, but unspectacular effort by the French captain.
MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur (R) is put under pressure from Calum Chambers of Middlesbrough (L) during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
The Kenyan was tasked to shield the back four and he did his job. He didn’t offer much going forward, but playing alongside Dele Alli lessened his offensive responsibilities pretty significantly.
He continues to show Tottenham fans that he can be a Premier League starter in the double-pivot. Truthfully, his presence is a huge luxury for Mauricio Pochettino.
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It was a rather strange performance for the English starlet. He was certainly energetic and heavily involved in the match. On the other hand, it’s hard to remember anything that Alli truly accomplished during his time on the pitch.
His critics will certainly point to how many times he lost the ball, and there’s some legitimacy to that criticism. Still though, I think he’s earned the license to try to push the attack forward whenever possible. That means he’s going to lose the ball more than other attackers who play a safer game.
MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Adama Traore of Middlesbrough (L) is put under pressure from Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur (R) during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
The Korean attacker played a near perfect first half. He dominated Middlesbrough with two goals, and had their entire backline thoroughly flummoxed. He could have torched them for even more goals.
It must be said that he did really fade out of the match for most of the second half. I’d like to see him maintain his energy for a full 90 minutes. Of course, if he scores two goals every time out he can do whatever he likes. He was terrific overall.
Some fans might be surprised to see me rate the Danish attacker so high, but I thought he was excellent on the day. He really kept the ball moving in the middle of the park and even showed some physicality in the midfield.
As I tweeted during the match, Eriksen did his best Luka Modric impression on the day. I’ll take that sort of performance out of him every week.
It’s fair to say that Tottenham saw the Newcastle version of the French midfielder today. He was pretty poor and aside from a few random chances at goal, he didn’t provide the squad very much.
He came off injured in the 70th minute for Erik Lamela and the club’s level of play instantly improved. That told me all I needed to know about his play on the afternoon.
MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Vincent Janssen of Tottenham Hotspur (L) is tackled by Cristhian Stuani of Middlesbrough (R) during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur at the Riverside Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
The Dutch striker had at least as much to do with Son’s first goal as his Korean teammate. His hold up play and lovely pass unlocked the Middlesbrough defense. On the whole, he put in an excellent shift leading the Spurs line.
I’d still like to see him find the back of the net from open play sooner, rather than later. That’s just nitpicking though. If he plays this well every time out, Tottenham will be able to survive Kane’s injury absence.
Tottenham got significantly better when he replaced Sissoko in the lineup. He gave Spurs real confidence on the ball, and also did a nice job leading the line once Janssen went off. It was a very solid performance for Lamela and should lead to him regaining his place in the starting XI.
Understandably, the young Englishman looked a bit nervous when he first came on the pitch. He didn’t necessarily misplace any passes, but he looked to be in quite a hurry. After the first few minutes he settled in nicely though. Job well done for Winks on his Premier League debut.
It was a brief cameo for the Frenchman, but he played much better than he did on Wednesday against Gillingham. He looked very confident on the ball and almost put the game to bed with a late chance at goal. He may be out of the squad once everyone gets healthy, but I liked his minutes on the pitch.