Tottenham Hotspur regained the lead over north London rivals Arsenal in the hunt for the top four with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday. Spurs are now fourth, three points ahead of the Gunners – after Mikel Arteta’s side lost to Brighton earlier today.
Heung-Min Son was the hero at Villa Park, scoring a hat-trick to put the pressure on the Gunners – who have one game less on them. He swept a brilliant half-volley home in the third minute to set the tone for the match after Ezra Konsa’s suspicious loss.
Dejan Kulusevski then made it 2-0 just after the half-time break, latching onto a Harry Kane header before drilling in a strike into the far corner. Son then grabbed his second in the 66th minute, the 29-year-old latched onto a flick of Kane before kicking the ball past Martinez to send the traveling Spurs fans into a frenzy.
He then capped an excellent individual performance by scoring his third, smashing home a Kulusevski cut-back. There was a lot to love about Antonio Conte’s Spurs but also plenty to think about for Steven Gerrard after watching his side disappoint, here are five things Express Sport learned.
His son breaks Hazard’s record
Son’s delicious hat-trick means he has now surpassed Eden Hazard’s goalscoring tally in 20 games less. The Korean now has 87 Premier League goals for his side in 225 games and is thriving in Conte’s system after a string of poor displays while Hazard has netted 85 in 245 games.
Son certainly thrives on playing much closer to Harry Kane and being able to connect with England captain Kane and knowing that if he makes a run, nine times out of ten his teammate should be able to find him. The winger has formed an incredible partnership with Kane and the pair were in flying form at Villa Park and could be the difference between the team securing Champions League football or the Europa League.
Matt Doherty has relaunched his career at Spurs under Conte. The defender struggled when he joined the club in 2020, but the team’s move to a full-back three meant he could return to his role as a preferred winger.
But unfortunately for the Irish international, he could fear a spell on the sidelines after picking up the injury in the 21st minute. Doherty picked up the injury early in the first half after a solid tackle from Matty Cash, although he tried to continue he quickly had to concede defeat and was replaced by Sergio Reguilon.
Although Doherty was playing on the left, the injury means Conte could end up with Emerson Royal and Reguilon has just two options for his wingers going forward – the most important positions in his system. Although both were solid against Villa, they are not in Doherty’s flying form.
Conte proves he needs support
Reports have been circulating that Conte could leave Spurs if he doesn’t get the support he feels he needs this summer. And the Italian continues to prove that any transfer funds are likely to be money well spent.
Kulisevski has been in excellent form since signing a two-year loan deal with Juventus in January. The Sweden international’s goal proved just how deadly it can be, unleashing a ferocious strike past Martinez – who will feel he could have done better in hindsight.
Although it wasn’t his best game in a Tottenham shirt against Villa, Rodrigo Bentacur also solved many of Conte’s problems in midfield. The Argentine brings stamina, composure and a sense of class to the center of the park and proves to Levy that Conte could put together an impressive squad if he had the budget to do so.
Villa have been heavily linked with PSV right-winger Noni Madueke of late, and Gerrard’s squad selection may highlight why. His team started with Ollie Watkins on the left, Philippe Coutinho in the middle and Danny Ings on the right.
Of course, this may have been tactical. However, playing striker Ings on the right underlined why the manager might be keen on signing a right-handed striker this summer.
Leon Bailey was signed from Bayern Leverkusen before the start of the season but struggled to make an impression at Villa Park and only entered the fray in the 70th minute. The Jamaican should have been the winger Gerrard is now in the market for but he doesn’t seem to have claimed his coach so far.
A defender far from trophies
Conte is expected to be on the hunt for a left-back centre-back this summer, and that could be the final piece of the jigsaw for the former Chelsea boss. The defense had several shaky moments against Villa, particularly in the later stages of the first half, and they may just be a composed header in central defense far from competitive in all competitions.
Eric Dier and Cristian Romero, especially the latter, thrive in the bottom three and while Ben Davies did well against Villa, he may not be the quality defender the club need to progress. If Conte is able to sign a defender of his choice, he certainly has a core of players who could challenge for silverware next season and beyond.