Ninety seconds into Tottenham Hotspur’s thrilling 3-2 win at Aston Villa on Sunday, Son Heung-Min was involved in a collision with Villa central defender Ezri Konsa that left him dazed on the ground. The forward, who scored two goals in the match including the winning strike right at the death, was attended to by Spurs physios, but picked himself up holding his arm a bit gingerly, and proceeded to play the rest of the match.
That injury, however, was a lot worse than anyone realized. Today, Tottenham announced on social media and its official app and website that Sonny sustained a serious injury to his right elbow, one that will require surgery this week and that will keep him out of the Spurs lineup for two months.
The injury will keep him out of action for at least ten Premier League matches, not to mention of course both Champions League fixtures against RB Leipzig, the first of which is tomorrow evening at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
According to the Athletic (£), this is the same arm that Son fractured while on international duty with South Korea back in 2017. Son was apparently in “quite a bit of pain” at the time but still somehow managed to play an additional 92 minutes for Spurs.
This is, without hyperbole, a catastrophic injury for Spurs. They are already without their leading scorer and striker Harry Kane, and now are without their second most reliable shooter and scorer in Son.
Critics are already blaming Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy for not signing a striker in the January transfer window, and you know what? They’re not wrong. Tottenham had to balance the idea spending some downright ridiculous prices for middling available striker talent versus the chance that a player like Son could pick up an injury. Considering that for most of the strikers Spurs were looking at loans were not feasible options, the club opted to gamble that nothing else serious would go wrong with the existing squad.
That gamble failed on Sunday. If I could post a firedog cartoon here without violating copyright, I would.
So where does that leave Spurs now? Sonny is by far the biggest producer of shots in Spurs’ team in Kane’s absence. It’s hard to know where that offensive production is going to come from now. Optimists will suggest that this could force Jose Mourinho’s hand and give a chance for 18-year old Troy Parrot to get a run with the first team. While I think he could get reserve minutes, I’m skeptical of that idea. It’s more likely that Tottenham will muddle along with Lucas Moura back up top, though Dele, Steven Bergwijn, and Giovani Lo Celso will all need to up their game significantly if Spurs are to be competitive.
If Erik Lamela can get (and stay) healthy, he could also be an option in the forward attacking band, possibly on the right side of midfield or in the #10 position (though the attacking band is very likely going to continue to be a fluid one with players exchanging position as needed). Likewise, if Lo Celso is given a more attacking role higher up the pitch, Tanguy Ndombele will need to play some serious minutes in the center of midfield alongside Harry Winks.
Fifth place in the Premier League table is suddenly (and at least for now) super important, and Tottenham have a critical match at Stamford Bridge this weekend. But you’d forgive most Spurs fans if they look at Sonny’s injury and suddenly think the goal of Champions League qualification looks farther and farther away this morning.