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Tottenham Hotspur are still searching for their first Premier League win at Wembley after a frustrating goalless draw against Swansea. The national stadium is home to Spurs for a year while they are rebuilding the White Hart Lane – but unless they address their woeful form, they could be in for a long season.
They started their Champions League campaign on a high, with a 3-1 victory against Borussia Dortmund, but are yet to decode Wembley in the league. However, a 1-0 win over Barnsley at Wembley on Wednesday in Carabao Cup, courtesy of a Dele Alli goal, gave Mauricio Pochettino some relief.
Tottenham’s struggles at Wembley were highlighted last season in the Champions League when they won just one of their 3 group matches. To add to their misery, they were also on the wrong end of a 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final last season.
It was Heung-Min Son’s erratic display in April’s FA Cup semi-final that saw Spurs taste defeat in the London Derby. Chosen ahead of Ben Davies as a left-wing back to add more impetus to the attack, Son looked unquestionably puzzled with his role and Pochettino’s decision backfired big-time. Son dived in to give away a needless penalty and set Chelsea on their way to FA Cup final, where they eventually lost to Arsenal.
It’s been almost five months after Son’s shambolic show against Chelsea in the FA Cup, yet, Pochettino is too stubborn to learn his lessons. Son, 25, who fractured his right forearm during a World Cup qualifier against Qatar in June, was selected again to play at wing-back against Swansea City. It is not really tough for a manager to understand a player’s struggles, and with Pochettino at the helm, one expects better footballing acumen.
As expected, Son failed to create chances from the wing-back position, with defensive duties nullifying his attacking instincts. A half-time rethink saw the South Korean improve noticeably after being moved centrally.
The South Korean was considered as a luxury player when he signed from Bayer Leverkusen in August 2015. Playing regularly in the side, Son ended the campaign with 21 goals from 47 appearances. He was a player Spurs were happy to play up front last season, stepping in when Harry Kane was injured.
Danny Rose’s injury gives Pochettino a headache but he has the position covered with the presence of Ben Davies. Of course, Davies lacks the dynamism that Rose provides but he is a better wing-back than Son, on any given day.
In a nutshell, Pochettino has to stop his experiment with Son at wing-back, which is clearly not working. It threatens to waste an exquisite talent. Instead, Son should be moved centrally if the team wants to enjoy his guile, creativity and goal-scoring prowess. Pochettino has big questions to answer but nothing bigger than overcoming the Wembley hoodoo.