Five talking points from Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory against Huddersfield Town
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Ben Pearce reflects on the Lilywhites latest Premier League victory at Wembley Stadium
Heung-min Son struck both of Tottenham Hotspur’s goals as the north Londoners secured a 2-0 home win over Huddersfield on Saturday. Here are five talking points:
1. Son stakes his claim for a place against Juventus – but has the decision already been made?
The battle between Son and Erik Lamela for the third attacking midfield spot in Mauricio Pochettino’s first-choice line-up has become an interesting one, while Lucas Moura is increasingly becoming a viable option too as he builds up his fitness and continues to gel with his team-mates.
Lamela seemed to have edged in front in the duel after getting the nod against both Juventus and Crystal Palace, while Son was picked to start the less glamorous FA Cup tie at Rochdale in between.
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Both players then sparkled in the midweek replay against Rochdale, with Son scoring twice and Lamela providing the assists - and it was the South Korean who was selected against Huddersfield today.
Does that mean there has been another change in the pecking order? Not really. After watching the first 70 minutes of this contest from the bench and remaining fresh, Lamela is likely to again start against Juventus on Wednesday – and that is the more exciting and glamorous match.
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Given Pochettino tends to plan his squad rotation a few matches in advance, it is perhaps too late for Son to force his way into Wednesday’s line-up – but he gave it a very good go against Huddersfield.
The 25-year-old showed wonderful feet to wriggle between four players early on, and he then turned brilliantly away from Florent Hadergjonaj on the left touchline before crossing for Harry Kane, who was denied at point-blank range.
Son went on to score the opening goal, running onto Dele Alli’s through ball and beating Jonas Lossl, and he doubled his tally in the second half, heading home from Kane’s cross.
Four goals in two games has taken his tally to 15 for the season, and all but two of those have come at Wembley.
As Spurs prepare to host Juventus under the arch, Son could not have done much more to force Pochettino into a rethink – and the fact he was the first Lilywhites player to be withdrawn today, 20 minutes from the end, might just give him extra hope of grabbing a starting role against the Italians.
2. Fernando Llorente’s midweek hat-trick does little for his long-term prospects
The Spaniard has generally struggled to make an impact since the turn of the year, and Lucas’ arrival at the end of January forced him out of the matchday squads for the matches against Arsenal, Juventus and Crystal Palace.
Llorente suddenly exploded into life during Wednesday’s 6-1 FA Cup victory over Rochdale, scoring three goals in the space of 12 minutes.
However, that treble against League One’s bottom side has apparently not improved his position in the squad, or his long-term prospects at Tottenham – he was again omitted from the 18-man squad for today’s match against Huddersfield.
3. Alli is the creator again
The 21-year-old has now gone 14 games without a goal, and he has been a little wasteful at times during that spell.
However, he continues to be a key man in the final third and it was he who laid on Son’s opening strike with a perfectly-weighted through ball.
If you include the free kick he won against Juventus, which was dispatched by Christian Eriksen, Alli has now assisted five goals in Spurs’ last five games.
4. Wembley really has become a fortress as Spurs gear up for their big European night
It took a while for the national stadium to feel like home at the start of this campaign, with Tottenham collecting just two points from a possible nine in their first three Premier League matches in Brent.
However, they have now won 11 of their last 12 games there, drawing the other, and the aggregate score across those 12 contests is 36-5.
Rochdale’s strike in Wednesday’s FA Cup replay is the only goal Tottenham have conceded in their last seven home matches in all competitions.
The Lilywhites could hardly be in better home form as they prepare for arguably their biggest match of the season so far against Juventus.
5. Spurs move away from Chelsea and await Blues’ trip to Manchester City
Tottenham’s victory briefly took them up to third place in the table, above Liverpool – although the Reds reclaimed the position with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday evening.
Regardless, Spurs have now consolidated their top-four position, moving five points ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea, who face a highly challenging trip to visit Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders on Sunday.
The Lilywhites’ latest triumph has also taken them just one point behind second-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand and head to Crystal Palace on Monday night.
Whatever happens in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Juventus, Spurs are on course to be involved in the competition again next term.
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