“All the players should feel very important during the season,” Mauricio Pochettino said this week. “If they do not feel like an important part of the project, it’s difficult to win titles.”
The Tottenham manager’s words came following a thumping 4-0 win over Watford, which saw Heung-min Son produce a man-of-the-match display to seal the three points with two goals either side of half-time.
Pochettino’s starting line-up at White Hart Lane included the second-choice right-back, second-choice left-back, third-choice striker, Eric Dier deputising for the unfit Victor Wanyama and Son in a role a fully fit Erik Lamela may well have taken at the start of the season.
In a week which has seen him nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, Harry Kane is expected to return to the starting line-up this weekend after almost five weeks out. But it’s his team-mates which have been making the headlines in the Tottenham talisman’s absence.
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Kane has missed eight games through injury this season in which Spurs have come away with five wins and three draws. Looking deeper, those three draws came consecutively during Kane’s first spell on the sidelines and featured just one goal from open play.
It’s a different story now, though, as Kane’s chorus line has matured. During the latest setback, 11 goals have been scored over four games. On Saturday, Son made it 11 goals in a season which has seen him start just 17 league games and the third time he’s scored twice in a match.
"I said earlier in the season that if you want to be title contenders, you need two or three players getting double figures," Kane said this week. "If more than one player can reach 20 goals this season, it will really help the team."
It’s likely Spurs will boast better than that as one more goal for Alli and another brace for Son will see the pair hit 20 goals across all competitions.
Pochettino is evidently a fan of careful, pragmatic rotation, and it’s not just in attack where Spurs are benefiting.
Kyle Walker has been afforded a rest late into the season, with Kieran Tripper coming in against Burnley and Watford during April. The right-back subsequently produced performances which prompt questions over why he had started just one league game this season – another man-of-the-match display against Watford on New Year’s Day - before this month.
In Danny Rose’s absence – coincidentally, along with his full-back partner Walker, a player who could feel aggrieved at no recognition from the PFA – Ben Davies has stepped up. The defensive personnel change but the defensive record remains the same, in a challenging 3-5-2 setup no less.
Eric Dier said: “Everyone is ready to take their chance when they do and you’ve seen other players step up, the likes of Sonny who has really kicked on this season and taken advantage of a chance he’s got.”
Kane’s return to the Spurs starting line-up is the talk of Tottenham ahead of Saturday’s White Hart Lane clash – he is, rightly so, the club’s poster boy and deserves the plaudits he receives - but it’s the supporting cast behind him, puppeteered by Pochettino, which has kept this title tilt on track.