This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has to resist the urge to start Son Heung-min against Newcastle United this weekend.
The South Korea international has been suspended for the opening two games of the campaign, a 3-1 win over Aston Villa and a 2-2 draw with Manchester City.
That Spurs didn’t lose is not necessarily an indictment on Son’s abilities; he is a world-class footballer with incredible attacking attributes. He scored 20 goals in all competitions last season.
Yet it does not feel like this is the right time to unleash the South Korea international.
This is a truly excellent player but selecting him against Newcastle is a waste.
Steve Bruce sets up his Magpies team in a low block and, against Norwich City last weekend, they had just 37% possession, per BBC Sport. That’s Norwich City, the newly-promoted outfit who were thumped 4-1 by Liverpool on the opening day of the new season.
Against Spurs, then, it is incredibly likely that they will be ceding possession and asking Spurs to break them down.
That does not call for Son’s inclusion.
He is a breathtakingly quick player and he thrives on the break; think of his superb solo goal against Chelsea at Wembley last season.
Versus Newcastle, though, he won’t have the space, or the time, to make his buccaneering runs down the flank.
Instead, manager Pochettino should be considering a technical trio to provide support to striker Harry Kane.
Selecting the likes of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Erik Lamela – the latter is in excellent form after scoring once and providing an assist against City – makes more sense, as the three have the attributes to pick the lock and provide chances for Kane.
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Giovani Lo Celso, the attacking midfielder signed from Real Betis in the summer, could also be involved.
Leaving Son out has a knock-on effect too, as it will keep him fresh for the north London derby the week following.
Spurs travel to The Emirates to take on Arsenal next weekend and that is a game that is tailor-made for the explosiveness exhibited by the winger.
Leaving him out of the clash with the Magpies, then, makes all the sense in the world.