Following a disappointing showing in the Champions League last Tuesday, Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways in rather emphatic fashion on Saturday afternoon, with Antonio Conte’s side running out 6-2 victors against Leicester City.
However, despite the final score, the fixture actually remained somewhat in the balance until around the 70-minute mark, with the Foxes having taken an early lead through Youri Tielemans’ penalty, before James Maddison drew the visitors level shortly before half-time after Harry Kane and Eric Dier had put the home side ahead.
Rodrigo Bentancur restored this advantage early in the second half, however, it was the introduction of both Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma, as well as the switch from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 formation, that finally saw Spurs kill the game off.
Despite being his favoured formation during Inter Milan’s Scudetto-winning campaign back in 2020/21, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium faithful have rarely seen this set-up deployed in north London – although it was used to brilliant effect on Saturday.
Indeed, at a time of the game in which Spurs needed to take control of proceedings in order to avoid the Foxes once again getting back into the match, Conte’s tactical shift proved to be a masterstroke – with Bissouma’s addition alongside Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg providing Tottenham with the cover they required to nullify Leciester’s three-man midfield.
This switch also allowed second-half substitute Son to play closer to Kane in a two-man attack, with the South Korean sensation’s 13-minute hat-trick proving just how successful Conte’s tactical alteration was.
Speaking about this change in formation after the match, the 52-year-old said (via football.london): “To have a player of Son’s level on the bench means that in one moment I can change the game and also with the rotation at the back today and when Bissouma came on he gave us a lot of strength and energy and I think this is the right path for us.
“When I decided to bring Bissouma in and play with three midfielders and move Sonny nearer to Kane to exploit the spaces it was really good because it gave us more balance and we exploited the ability of Kane and Son.”
As such, with Conte stating as recently as last week that £35m summer signing Bissouma was the only new addition still struggling to adapt to the tactical aspect of Tottenham’s game, the Italian will certainly have been delighted with the impact made by the 26-year-old who Raj Chohan dubbed “unreal” on Saturday afternoon.
Indeed, while Son’s goals undoubtedly stole the show, it was the introduction of the 21-touch midfielder that truly “proved key” – in the words of football.london’s Rob Guest – for Conte and his side last weekend.