Richarlison could help solve Postecoglou's Son dilemma for Arsenal clash

Richarlison of Tottenham Hotspur is leaving the pitch at the end of the Premier League match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at the London Stadium in Stratford, on April 2, 2024.

Tottenham's lack of an out-and-out striker has been clear to see in the past two games. In Richarlison's absence through injury, Spurs captain Son Heung-min has led the line.

Playing in that role a number of times already this season and scoring 12 of his 15 Premier League goals in 2023/24 from there, the South Korean unfortunately hasn't had much joy deployed as a central striker this time around with his opponents giving him very little. 

The 31-year-old has failed to score in his past three Premier League games against West Ham, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United and he was hooked on 58 minutes in the 4-0 hammering at St. James' Park.

Dropping deep at times to receive the ball and try and make things happen for the team with very little service coming his way from midfield, Son didn't even have a shot on goal nor a dribble forward. He was totally nullified by the Newcastle backline and looked a shadow of himself.

It was very much the same in the previous encounters against West Ham and Nottingham Forest with both teams solid in defence and boasting very powerful defenders in a low block. Although it isn't his game as he is not that type of player, what Son needs to do much better next time is hold the ball up if he is leading the line.

Newcastle profited from a mix-up between Son and James Maddison to open the scoring through Alexander Isak, with the Swede getting his second after Son lost possession on the edge of the Newcastle area which allowed Bruno Guimaraes to send his teammate through on goal for Newcastle's third. Not long after, Son made way as he was replaced by Dejan Kulusevski.

Currently three points off Aston Villa in fourth but still having a game in hand on Unai Emery's team, Tottenham's Champions League hopes may well rest on Son Heung-min in the final six games. After all, Spurs are going to need their main man at the peak of their powers as Premier League title rivals Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool are all to come, as is a trip to Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea.

What will also help Tottenham out in the run-in is seeing Richarlison return to the fold after missing the past two games through injury. Having a "bit of a niggle" recently following a knee issue, the fact Tottenham now don't have a game until the end of the month should give the Brazilian sufficient time to return to full fitness.

"Yeah, he'll miss this week," said Postecoglou ahead of the Newcastle United game. "He is close but with the weekend off next week, we feel and with the last two rounds stacked with games for us, we feel having him ready for that is more important, but he's progressing quite well."

The ex-Everton man just unfortunately hasn't had a consistent run in the Tottenham XI since the middle of February due to his knee injury. Prior to his last start against Wolves at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the 26-year-old had netted nine goals in nine Premier League games for the Lilywhites.

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That was undoubtedly his best spell in a Spurs shirt as he started to show on a consistent basis why the club were so keen to pay Everton £60million for his services. Not only was he impressing in front of goal with his finishing, Richarlison also shone in terms of his all-round game as he held the ball up well, battled up front and made life incredibly difficult for his opponents.

Tottenham have fared well this season when Richarlison has played more than an hour in Premier League games, with their only two defeats during that time coming against Brighton & Hove Albion and Wolves. 

Deploying Richarlison in a central role once again and having that focal point there could potentially be the key to getting Son back on track at such a pivotal time in the season as it will allow him to do what he does best.

If not, Postecoglou and his coaching staff have to find a way of getting the South Korean captain back to his incredibly high levels, starting in the North London Derby against Arsenal. Now more than ever, Tottenham need Son at the top of his game with the race for Champions League football set to be determined over the coming weeks.

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