Jamie Redknapp has sung the praises of Antonio Conte for leaving Son Heung-min out of the starting eleven against Leicester, as the Tottenham star hit a fantastic second-half hat-trick in a 6-2 win.
Son shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot last season after hitting 23 goals in 35 matches, the same as Liverpool star Mo Salah. However, the forward has struggled to replicate that form during the new campaign.
He failed to find the net in Tottenham’s first six league games. This led to rumours that Conte might leave him on the bench against Leicester, and that prediction came true.
The manager instead went with a front three of Richarlison, Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevski.
He opened his account for the season by directing a stunning 25-yard strike into the top corner.
And he added to his tally by whipping a left-footed shot past Leicester keeper Danny Ward 11 minutes later. After his brace, Sky Sports co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe lauded Son.
He said (17/09, at 19:11): “Right foot, left foot, you get the same result. If you allow a player of Son’s quality to get his bearings, he’s going to hurt you.
Son Heung-min puts in ‘brilliant individual display’
“He didn’t start this game, but he didn’t feel sorry for himself. He has taken the game away from Leicester. Brilliant individual display.”
Hinchcliffe added: “Kane picks out his strike partner, but there’s still a lot of work to do. James Justin leaves Son in space and he wraps his foot around it.
“There’s power, there’s accuracy. It’s simply unstoppable. Two stunning goals from the substitute.”
Son then beat Ward for a third time to take the match ball home. After the thrashing of Leicester was secured, Sky Sports pundit Redknapp said in the studio (17/09, at 19:36): “The saying ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ has never been more appropriate. We were doubting him before the game. He would’ve been angry – great players want to play.
“That’s exactly the right way to react when you get left out.”
Redknapp went on to laud Conte for putting Son on the bench, which served to fire the South Korean up. “Spurs have so many great options, you have to buy into that,” the pundit said. “It’s not all about an individual player. It was always Son and Kane.
“Now there’s Richarlison and Kulusevski. That is the perfect example of what to do as a player, but also a manager. Antonio Conte, he’s got it right. He’s not afraid to leave players out.”
Redknapp ended his analysis by saying: “It was a brilliant hat-trick and an amazing cameo.”
Son hasn’t looked himself on the most part this season, but he was in full flow against Leicester. The Foxes simply could not deal with his pace, strength or sublime finishing.
Son knows he faces fierce competition for a starting spot from the likes of Richarlison and Kulusevski. Perhaps this has actually worked against him in recent weeks.
But now he is off the mark, Son will be expecting to get back to his best and potentially really 20+ goals once again.
Meanwhile, Richarlison has revealed he is “delighted” to be a Tottenham Hotspur player after explaining he left Everton because of their “lack of ambition”.