EPL

Son named Player of the Month after sensational Premier League form

By Sports Desk November 13, 2020

Son Heung-min has been named Premier League Player of the Month for October, the first time he has won the honour in three and a half years.

Tottenham forward Son has made a sensational start to 2020-21, racking up eight goals and two assists in eight Premier League appearances.

Four of those goals came in the month of October, including in Spurs' spectacular 6-1 away win at Manchester United when the South Korea international scored two and set up another.

He also netted in wins over West Ham and Burnley to be named Player of the Month for the third time in his career, having previously triumphed in September 2016 and April 2017.

Spurs have not had a winner in the award since Lucas Moura claimed the accolade in August 2018.

Son beat seven other nominees to the October honour, with team-mate Harry Kane another of those who was in contention.

The form of Son and Kane has helped Spurs to second in the Premier League table, one point behind leaders Leicester City.

Sensational Son producing superb numbers

Manager Jose Mourinho has described Son as world class and is hoping to tie him down to a new long-term contract.

Mourinho has added his belief that the player's character means he does not get proper recognition for his performances.

Son, who joined Spurs from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015, has reached double figures for Premier League goals in all but one of his previous five seasons and is well on course to achieve that feat again.

But it has not just been Son's individual goalscoring form that has caught the eye – his partnership with Kane has been prolific, as the pair have already equalled a record for the amount of goals two Spurs players have combined for in a single Premier League season (nine).

This understanding, although now attracting attention, is not new. Kane's winner against Burnley at the end of October, which was set up by Son, took them on to 29 goal combinations in Premier League history, second only to Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard at Chelsea.

His link-up with Kane is not the only area that shows how Son is excelling, though.

Son's 18 chances created puts him in the top five in England's top flight, while he has been involved in a league-high 13 goal-ending passing sequences.

His direct style of play has always made him a threat, but now he appears to be using that to his advantage better than anyone else in the division, with six of his ball carries leading to a goal and 11 resulting in a shot – no player can match him in either metric.

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    Mutual respect

    Grealish earned a long-awaited England debut earlier this season and was a bright spark when England suffered a 2-0 Nations League defeat in Belgium.

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    "I rate him very highly," he said. "He's somebody I mentioned before, talking to the team-mates at City, in a random conversation.

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    Those warm words from De Bruyne seemed to carry a little more weight when a move for Grealish was rumoured to be one of the topics of discussion during Guardiola's successful contract extension negotiations in November.

    Given the City boss already must try to accommodate the playmaking talents of Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva around De Bruyne, it is questionable whether he needs such a reinforcement in his creative department.

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    King creators

    Both De Bruyne and Grealish have started 15 Premier League games apiece this season, with the latter playing one more minute overall.

    In that time, the Villa man has created 55 chances to De Bruyne's 51, although City's number 17 has 10 assists to Grealish's seven following an outrageous outside-of-the-boot cross for John Stones to open the scoring in Sunday's 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.

    Overall, they are second and third in the Premier League's assists table, Harry Kane's fruitful relationship with Son Heung-min helping the England captain to amass 11 for Tottenham.

    Manchester United talisman Bruno Fernandes separates them at the top when it comes to chances created, having crafted 54 for his Old Trafford colleagues.

    Those numbers continue to look incredibly strong when projected across Europe's top five leagues.

    Hakan Calhanoglu has created 59 chances for Serie A leaders Milan, although only six of those have been converted, while the continental top five is rounded out by Lyon's Memphis Depay being level with De Bruyne on 51.

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    Goals, guile and grubby work

    De Bruyne has fired off 57 shots this season (17 on target) to Grealish's 40 (14 on target).

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    Grealish has weighed in with five for Dean Smith's men, including a double in their logic-defying 7-2 evisceration of champions Liverpool.

    Grealish has 81.2 per cent accuracy for passes ending in the final third, outstripping De Bruyne's 73.5 per cent, although the City favourite attempting 105 crosses and corners to the younger man's 51 goes some way to explaining this discrepancy.

    In terms of dribble success rate, they are neck and neck again, with Grealish returning 63.8 per cent and De Bruyne 63.

    Grealish has attempted 69 dribbles to his idol's 46, which does a little to explain the frequency with which he draws free-kicks.

    His 73 fouls won is comfortably the highest in the division, with Palace's Wilfred Zaha (51), Liverpool's Sadio Mane (43) and Kane (40) up next.

    A key reason for this could be how integral Grealish is to so much of Villa's attacking play. As per Opta, he is responsible for 11 per cent of his team's passes. By contrast, Zaha and Kane make five per cent and Mane four.

    As players who cherish the ball so much, De Bruyne and his counterpart do plenty to get it back.

    The UEFA midfielder of the year has made 74 recoveries, 27 tackles and seven interceptions in the Premier League this season, compared to 79 recoveries, 23 tackles and eight interceptions for Grealish.

    It seems implausible that these two midfield maestros will stray too far from the thick of the action at the Etihad Stadium, which should make for a very watchable encounter.

    Whether or not it amounts to a live audition for Grealish, only time will tell.

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