Son's 8/10 stand-out performance leads Spurs to big win vs. Stoke
Four second-half goals saw Spurs crush a hapless Stoke side 5-1 and gave some much-needed momentum to their Premier league season. Tottenham had started slowly and for much of the first half, it appeared they would be dogged by their familiar Wembley failings. At the interval only a Ryan Shawcross own goal separated the two sides.
The second half was all Spurs, though, as they attacked a fragile Stoke defence. Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane scored within a minute of each other early on and thereafter it was game over. Kane added a fourth and Christian Eriksen rounded thing off in the 80th minute.
After a dismal run of form in the Premier League, Spurs would have been happy enough with three points however they were achieved. To have rediscovered some of their swagger and played some devastatingly quick attacking football to which Stoke had no answer was the icing on the cake. The form of Son was also instrumental in Saturday's victory. While many of his teammates were struggling in a poor first half, he was the one player who put the visitors under pressure. A goal and two assists were fair reward for his endeavours.
Spurs were once again slow out of the blocks, rarely finding any consistency or rhythm in a poor first half. Against better and more attack-minded opponents, their lack of ideas and self-belief might have been exposed. Aside from one sublime pass to put in Son, Dele Alli was well below his best yet again. It can't be long before Erik Lamela starts ahead of him
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Mauricio Pochettino will be disappointed with the first 45 minutes. Having held a team meeting after the APOEL game in which he stressed the need of playing with speed and intensity from the first whistle, his team then went and did the exact opposite. However, he made sure they got the message at half-time and by the end, they were back to something like their best form.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Hugo Lloris, 7 -- Had little to do for much of the game as Stoke rarely threatened. Made one fabulous save from close range midway in the second half, but will be disappointed to have missed the corner that allowed the visitors to get a consolation prize.
DF Kieran Trippier, 7 -- A light workload in defence and put in a couple of telling crosses. Still lacks the pace and confidence of last year. His unwillingness to take on opponents makes his approach play too predictable and easy to read.
DF Eric Dier, 7 -- With Davinson Sanchez suspended, Spurs reverted to a conventional back four and Dier adapted well to being played out of position on the right side of the central defence. Was rarely troubled.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 7 -- Combined well with Dier at the heart of the defence and was confident in containing the limited threat of Stoke's attacks on the break. Looked in control throughout and was rarely under any pressure.
DF Ben Davies, 7 -- Appears more settled now that Pochettino has clearly indicated he's the first choice full-back. His defensive work is excellent though he still looks short of pace in attack. Did put in some telling crosses, from one of which Kane scored.
MF Mousa Dembele, 7 -- Returning to something like his best form. Spent far too much of the first half slowing things down with sideways passes, but in the second half he began to drive forward and open up the game. He even managed a couple of shots. Two more than he has had all season.
MF Harry Winks, 7 -- Showed little sign of fatigue having started the Champions League qualifier against APOEL in midweek and was one of the few Spurs players to try and lift the game in the first half. His flick over the shoulder to release Alli in the build-up to the all-important second goal was sublime.
MF Christian Eriksen, 7 -- Took his goal well and sent in the cross that set up Kane's second goal. The Denmark international was still a long way from his best but there were welcome signs of him actively going looking for the ball rather than waiting for it to be delivered to his feet.
MF Dele Alli, 6 -- Apart from one pass to set up Son for the second goal, Alli was a peripheral player throughout. He can't seem to find the same space as last year -- both because he is more closely marked and because his first touch is poor -- and too often runs into dead ends.
MF Heung-Min Son, 8 -- The most effective player for Spurs on the pitch, mainly because he is never frightened of taking a chance to run at defenders. Though this can be frustrating as half of what he attempts does not come off, it also paid dividends with a goal and two assists.
FW Harry Kane, 7 -- He looked to be suffering from the same tentativeness and lack of confidence as most of his teammates in the first half and was guilty of a horrible miss when he had the goal at his mercy. Luckily Kane does not appear to dwell on his mistakes and finished both his second half with emphatic and clinical precisions. Was denied a hat trick by a great save late on.
MF Erik Lamela, 7 -- Came on midway through the second half to replace Alli and spurs immediately looked more of a threat. Ran hard at defenders and took up some useful positions in the Stoke penalty area.
MF Moussa Sissoko, NR -- Still looks a long way off a £30m footballer. Struggled to make any impact and his crossing was poor.
FW Fernando Llorente, NR -- A late substitution. His goal against Apoel has clearly done his confidence the world of good. Made a strong impression in a limited period of time.
John Crace is one of ESPN FC's Tottenham bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @JohnJCrace.