‘If only I had changed my position earlier…’

It was a game that left a bit of deep regret. ‘Captain’ Son Heung-min (32, Tottenham) showed perseverance to keep up until the end even in a difficult situation with a 3-goal difference. However, his team Tottenham unfortunately failed to tie. There is a high possibility of missing out on a ticket to the European Champions League, which was the final goal of this season.

Tottenham lost 2-3 against Arsenal in the 35th round of the 2023-2024 English Premier League (EPL) held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England on the 28th (Korean time). As a result, Tottenham, ranked 5th in the league, recorded 18 wins, 6 draws, and 9 losses (60 points). Aston Villa, ranked 4th, drew 2-2 with Chelsea in the same round, resulting in 20 wins, 7 draws, and 8 losses (67 points). Even though Tottenham had played two fewer games than Aston Villa, the point gap widened and they faced a difficult situation. Considering that there are not many games left, it seems even more difficult. In fact, advancement to the European Champions League, the ‘stage of stars’, was thwarted.

On the other hand, Arsenal continued their challenge to win the league. They are ranked first in the league with a season record of 25 wins, 5 draws, and 5 losses (80 points). Second-place Manchester City (24 wins, 7 draws, 3 losses, 9 points) has played one less game than Arsenal. Arsenal appears to be at a disadvantage, but if Manchester City slips even once, there is a clear chance. Arsenal has a dream of reaching the top of the league for the first time in 20 years. It is important to show fighting spirit until the end of the season.

The match between Tottenham and Arsenal is a rivalry game called the ‘North London Derby’. The score was tight at 1 point. But the content of the game was completely different. Tottenham conceded three goals to Arsenal in the first half alone. They focused in the second half and trailed by two goals, but ultimately failed to tie the score.

On this day, Korean striker Son Heung-min started as the top player in the 4-2-3-1 formation. In the first half, the entire team performed poorly and did not show much. As the team was pushed to the brink, Tottenham coach Anze Postecoglou brought in Brazilian striker Richarlison in the 19th minute of the second half, and changed Son Heung-min’s position from the front line to a winger instead. Then Son Heung-min took off. He threatened the opponent’s goal several times, and scored the team’s second goal with a penalty kick in the 42nd minute of the second half.

British soccer expert 90MIN gave Son Heung-min the highest rating of 7 among Tottenham players. Center back Christian Romero and second-line volunteer Dejan Kulusevski also recorded the same rating. In addition, the media praised, “We should have created more opportunities until halftime. Richarlison came in and looked comfortable on the wing. He showed a strong mentality in a penalty kick situation.” Football statistics media Footmob also gave Son Heung-min a high rating of 7.5. It was the second best score after Romero’s rating of 7.7. WhoScored.com gave Son Heung-min a rating of 6.62.

Son Heung-min scored on this day, playing in 30 league games this season, recording 16 goals and 9 assists. The competition to become the top scorer continued. Currently, Son Heung-min is tied for 7th place in the league in scoring with 16 goals, shoulder to shoulder with Phil Foden of Manchester City and Jarrod Bowen of West Ham. The leading scorer is monster striker Erling Holland (Man City) with 21 goals. It may not be easy, but with Son Heung-min’s driving ability, he may be able to catch up.

Tottenham formed an offensive line centered around Son Heung-min, with Timo Werner, James Maddison, and Kulusevski. Pierre Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur coordinated the midfield. The back four were Ben Davis, Mickey Vanderven, Romero, and Pedro Foro. Arsenal faced 4-3-3.

However, Tottenham was anxious from the start. Starting with Hojbjerg’s own goal in the 15th minute of the first half, an additional goal was allowed to Bukayo Saka during a counterattack in the 27th minute of the first half. In the 38th minute of the first half, Arsenal striker Kai Havertz scored the third goal. The atmosphere changed in the second half. Tottenham scored a makeshift goal in the 19th minute of the second half when Romero took advantage of a passing mistake by opposing goalkeeper David Raya.

Son Heung-min also scored a last-minute penalty kick. Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice kicked Tottenham defender Davis in the process of clearing the ball. The referee declared a penalty kick for Tottenham after reviewing the video (VAR). Son Heung-min also calmly put it in. However, there was not enough time to tie the score. In the end, Tottenham lost at home.

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