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What happened to Son Heung-min? Tottenham’s out-of-form star has played EIGHT games without a goal

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Tottenham Hotspur have had a good start to the season, but the ever reliable and consistent performer Son Heung-min has struggled to find his way so far.

Son won the Premier League Golden Boot last season with 23 goals, including a flurry of 12 in the last 10 games of the season to level with Liverpool’s Mo Salah at the top of the charts.

In the last six campaigns, Son has never failed to score double figures in the Premier League, with 89 goals in this period. For this season, he has scored an average of every 173.9 minutes since moving to England.

Tottenham striker Son Heung-min has not scored a single goal in the first eight games

Son won the Premier League Golden Boot last season with 23 goals to share the award with Mohamed Salah

Son won the Premier League Golden Boot last season with 23 goals to share the award with Mohamed Salah

Fast forward to today and the South Korean international has started in all eight Spurs games so far this season but has yet to find the back of the net, which is starting to become worrying given his prolific form since his arrival in north London .

Perhaps more worryingly, he’s only gotten one assist so far, proving that he’s not as effective in all attack areas.

The question is, why is the attacker struggling? That might be harder to answer than you might expect, as he currently averages 3.13 shots per 90 minutes, up from last season’s average of 2.57.

The South Korean international failed in the defeat against Sporting Lisbon

The South Korean international failed in the defeat against Sporting Lisbon

It could be a lower quality of shots on goal as his ‘expected goals’ total – xG – fell to 0.11 from last season’s 0.19 – despite increased efforts on goal.

Son was also substituted in Spurs’ first defeat of the season against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League without taking a single shot.

Fingers pointing at Son of course, but in fact the whole Spurs attack isn’t firing on all cylinders, which is somewhat surprising given that they remain unbeaten in the Premier League so far.

Harry Kane is an exception, as he has scored five goals in all competitions. Apart from that, Richarlison has two goals and Dejan Kulusevski has only one to his name.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte must not only figure out why Son is struggling, but instead allow his entire attack to score more freely to maintain their position among the top teams this season.

Ahead of their first loss of the season, Conte made it clear that no one on his team is untouchable when it comes to selection.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte (pictured) made it clear that no one on his team is untouchable

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte (pictured) made it clear that no one on his team is untouchable

Conte said: ‘I think if you’re trying to build something important, if you’re trying to build something with ambition and trying to be competitive and fight to win, you have to change your old habits, otherwise it means you’re in balance. want to stay and it means you don’t want to have ambition.

“That’s why all players have to accept the rotation, especially up front, we have four players. Especially for me at the moment it is very difficult to drop one of these four players, but I have to make the best decision for the team, also for the players.

“Sometimes it’s better to rest and not start a game, to come in and play just 20 or 30 minutes and then play the next games.

“I’m definitely here to try and change the old habit. The old custom was that the players were used to playing in every game. What has happened in situations like this is that you don’t have great opportunities to win.

“You try to make the players happy, but big clubs have a big squad, a deep squad. At the moment we don’t have a big squad, but we’re just starting to try to follow this path.

“That’s why what happens to one of these four players will be normal and you have to know that it’s good for a coach like me to have these options.”

The stats we’ve already looked at suggest that Son still gets and creates chances, but it seems he doesn’t get into the penalty area as often to create better quality chances.

Forward Son's heatmap for Tottenham for the entire 2021-22 Premier League season

Forward Son’s heatmap for Tottenham for the entire 2021-22 Premier League season

The South Korean's heatmap for Antonio Conte's side so far in the current top campaign

The South Korean’s heatmap for Antonio Conte’s side so far in the current top campaign

The forward’s heatmap so far this season shows just that, less time in the penalty area and less time across the pitch so far.

Son’s energy and pace are arguably a major reason why he’s been so successful since joining Spurs in 2015 for £22 million from Bayer Leverkusen.

While he may have been kept on the left and didn’t get into the penalty area as often, his stats aren’t too drastically different from last season’s first six games – goals aside, of course.

Son played 520 minutes in his first six games last season, compared to 493 minutes this season. The main differences are that he had three goals and of course his goal conversion was much higher.

The forward has provided the same number of assists in that time and has even had more shots, 15 this season compared to 10 last season.

Son's 2021/22 stats compared to the current campaign.  Graphic by: sofascore.com

Son’s 2021/22 stats compared to the current campaign. Graphic by: sofascore.com

Statistics from the first six games of last season compared to this campaign.  Graphics courtesy of: sofascore.com

Statistics from the first six games of last season compared to this campaign. Graphics courtesy of: sofascore.com

He had 172 passes in his first six games last season, compared to 129, with a slightly lower accuracy, from 83.7% to 80.6%.

Son has already entered the penalty area 32 times, compared to 34 times last season at this stage. His touches have dropped from 288 to 239.

Despite the criticism and failure of his performances, Son is unconcerned and feels he will turn his fortunes around.

“If I’m honest, if I didn’t get chances in the game, I’d be worried, but I still get chances,” Son said. “In some games there were unfortunate moments. In some games it was a bad finish.

The 30-year-old is not worried and is supporting himself to bring back his form from last season

The 30-year-old is not worried and is supporting himself to bring back his form from last season

“In some games I’m really frustrated because when I get huge opportunities and the ball doesn’t go in. I just have to laugh about it. But I’m not worried about it because the team, the staff and all the fans are helping me.

“I think if I score one, the confidence will come back and I hope I can continue and score more goals.”

If Tottenham are to be successful, they are hoping for more from Son and his rivals in Richarlison and Kulusevski.

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