For the first time in over a month, Tottenham Hotspur won a football match. In a thumping 4-1 victory over a talented, albeit stretched, Newcastle team, Spurs showed that the Ange Postecoglou project is well underway with a breathtaking performance. Here are five things we learned from that game.
Five Things We Learnt from Tottenham Hotspur V Newcastle United
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1. Pape Matar Sarr Will Be Missed During AFCON
While there will be many headline grabbers from the game, one man’s presence that was felt is Pape Matar Sarr. The Senegalese international made his first league start in a month, and he shone throughout this game. His energy and work rate have never been in question, but this match certainly highlighted his impressive footballing IQ and decision-making. A performance that certainly cements his starting position for the foreseeable future will be sorely missed when he departs for the African Cup of Nations in January.
2. Son Heung-Min Is Spurs’ Best Finisher and Creator
Often deployed as the main central striker this season, club captain Son was asked to play in a somewhat familiar role as a left winger in Sunday’s game. His performance was the perfect showcase of his extraordinary attacking prowess, as he set up two goals with some ‘traditional winger’ play as he had a tired Kieran Trippier in knots and squared the ball for his teammates to finish the chances.
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It seemed justified that Son got his goal in the end, where he slotted home a penalty that he had won himself in the closing stages of the game. With his two assists on the night, the South Korean overtook former teammate Christian Eriksen to become the club’s leading assist provider in Premier League history.
3. Yes, Richarlison Can Score with His Feet
The man who took Son’s place in the team as the central striker, Richarlison, repaid the faith shown in him by his manager, Ange Postecoglou, with two well-taken goals in what was undoubtedly his best performance since his £60 million arrival in 2022. These goals marked the first time that the Brazilian had scored for Spurs with his feet, as his five previous strikes had all been headers.
More than just his goal-scoring, Richarlison’s overall work rate (which is arguably his greatest strength) was on full display for his first goal as he won the ball in midfield and started the move, which ended with him finding the bottom corner. There’s hope at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that “Richy” as he’s affectionately known will kick on from this performance and come good as we enter the busiest period on the calendar.
4. Destiny Udogie and Pedro Porro Are Flying
Porro and Udogie both demonstrated why Postecoglou has complete confidence in them to play as inverted fullbacks, with both men grabbing goal contributions. The Italian international grabbed his first goal for the Lilywhites while the Spaniard notched up an assist with a killer defense-splitting pass for Richarlison’s well-taken goal.
It’s easy to forget that both men never played in the Premier League before 2023 and have been asked to play as inverted fullbacks for the first time in their careers. While there have been some defensive lapses with each player, there have been a lot more positive than negative, and it is an exciting prospect to see how both men could perform if they continue to progress as they have under the Aussie manager.
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5. Romero Will Be Romero
In what was a heart-to-mouth moment for both Spurs staff and fans, Cristian Romero escaped with just a yellow card for a tackle on Newcastle striker Callum Wilson. After a foul that certainly looked worse when slowed down, the Argentine, who has just returned from suspension, was close to being sent off again on Sunday. It is clear that this is how the Spurs vice-captain plays, and he is undoubtedly an integral part of his game, but some calmness in his approach would go a long way in quelling the anxiety felt by fans whenever he flies into a tackle.