Son Heung-min says he is not afraid to shoulder Tottenham’s attacking burden during Harry Kane’s goal drought after the South Korean sparkled in a vital 2-1 win against Aston Villa on Sunday.
Now without a goal in six Premier League games, Kane is on his worst scoring drought in the top-flight since 2015-16.
Kane has scored a combined six goals in the Europa Conference League and the League Cup, with a further three goals coming in an England shirt this term.
But the 28-year-old’s lack of league goals is a major concern for Nuno Espirito Santo as the Tottenham manager tries to win over sceptical fans and players at the start of his reign.
Since his attempt to force a move to Manchester City ended in failure, England captain Kane has looked a shadow of the player who finished as the Premier League’s top scorer last term.
After three successive league defeats, including London derby losses against Arsenal and Chelsea, Nuno desperately needed Sunday’s victory.
It was Son he had to thank for buying him some much-needed breathing space.
While Kane worked hard and threatened a goal on several occasions, it was the electric Son who set up Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s opener.
After Ollie Watkins equalised, Son rode to the rescue with a blistering burst that climaxed with the cross that Villa’s Matt Targett turned into his own net for the winner.
Son admitted it was a relief to get back to winning ways and he has no problems taking responsibility for leading Tottenham out of trouble.
“This win brings us a lot of good energy. We needed that especially before the international break. It is a good feeling to win this game and going away,” Son said.
“Every single game I will try to bring my best with positive energy. I got two assists but the lads were fantastic. I just crossed the ball and passed the ball.
“Everyone is experienced, everyone wants to win and take responsibility. We have to keep this mindset. When we win it is not everything, it is a long season and we start on zero again for the next game.”
After criticism of Nuno’s perceived conservative tactics, it was intriguing to hear Son admit Tottenham had approached the Villa game with a more attacking mindset.
“We tried to play more, that is more different to a couple of weeks ago. We played without fear and we enjoyed it even when we lost the ball,” he said.
“The last three games were defeats we did not want and the confidence went down but we can bounce back and go back up.”
Nuno isn’t out of the woods yet and it will take more than one win to convince Tottenham supporters he is the right man for the job.
Amid reports that some players are already unhappy with his rigid training methods, Nuno was eager to share the credit for the Villa win.
“All the players are very important, all the players. Not only Sonny did a good game, overall the team did very well,” Nuno said.
“Sonny, the way he took the team forward and the way he unbalanced them on one-v-one situations was very important.
“There were a lot of good individual performances and when this happens the team plays better.”