Forget Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, these are the underrated Tottenham players powering their Premier League title bid under Jose Mourinho


It’s easy to praise Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane right now as Tottenham sit top of the Premier League table.

The South Korean produced a stunning finish on the counter to put Spurs ahead against rivals Arsenal on Sunday and his England captain teammate slammed in their second of the afternoon to complete the win.

Oh, and the pair set up each others goals, not bad, eh?

Kane and Son have now combined 31 times in the Premier League

Kane and Son have now combined 31 times in the Premier League

Of course, the incredible form of this dynamic duo, who appear to have a telepathic understanding after five seasons together in lilywhite shirts, is a huge part of their success this season.

They deserve all the plaudits they get but it’s important we don’t forget about the other Spurs stars involved in their impressive start to the season.

While the goalscorers are firing the ball into the back of the net from literally everywhere, their teammates are creating the perfect environment for them to flourish.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, has somehow, begun getting the most out players who were struggling last season under Mauricio Pochettino.

Former boss Tim Sherwood reckons the Portuguese has ‘brainwashed’ some of his players as they buy into his tactics.

Mourinho produced another tactical masterclass to lead Spurs to victory over Arsenal


Mourinho produced another tactical masterclass to lead Spurs to victory over Arsenal

He told the Sports Breakfast: “The players are brainwashed, they’re enjoying it now. Harry Kane had one shot at goal. You would think he would want to get the ball and have more touches in the opposition box, but he’s not like that after the game.

“He realised he’s come to the stage of his career where he needs to start winning. If they win something, the fans won’t care and neither will the players.

“Jose has got them believing – and why wouldn’t you believe a serial winner? If he told them to go and stand on their head for five minutes, they would do it.”

It’s certainly true Mourinho has had an outstanding effect on some of his stars, though, and here at talkSPORT we want to pay homage to those currently unheralded in N17.

talkSPORT pundits apologise to Hojbjerg after MOTM display against Arsenal amid Essien and Makelele comparisons

Serge Aurier

Even as recently as this summer it appeared the Ivorian was on his was out of the club with Matt Doherty joining from Wolves.

In 2019 it was thought he’d be off too with Kyle Walker-Peters starting ahead of him but, with no new right-back signing for the club and injury to Walker-Peters early in the season, he began to salvage his career.

This campaign, Aurier, with a slightly simplified role, is much-improved on the player fans feared was an errant flick away from a booking or giving away a penalty.

For Tottenham’s second goal against Arsenal, the 27-year-old not only had the presence of mind to stay on his feet while defending against the run of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but than than smash the ball away he picked out a perfect pass between four opponents to find Giovani Lo Celso to put his side on the counter.

Also, by always focusing on the wide man, knowing there is now extra protection for him, he is able to restrict offensive raids down his flank. On Sunday this led to Kieran Tierney wafting 10 crosses into the box which his teammates were able to deal with.

Tottenham defender Serge Aurier makes a tackle

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Aurier had struggled to win over fans but a simplified role has seen him come on leaps and bounds

Moussa Sissoko

That extra protection Aurier has got right now? That’s the French star, who continues his evolution as a footballer.

Once laughed about by Spurs supporters, we gradually saw him become a more important figure under Pochettino but, towards the end of the Argentine’s tenure, Sissoko’s limitations as a technical midfielder held the team back.

A natural leader and popular with his teammates, he lacks the creativity to breakdown teams in low blocks and often fielded alongside Harry Winks it made them pedestrian.

Now, alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, his diligent tracking of runs, and his ability to block passing lanes has seen him play a huge role in Tottenham’s defensive improvement.

Covering the inside right channel, Sissoko helps to cover any gaps left by teammate Aurier and pounces on an errors by opponents which has seen an increase in the amount of interceptions he is making.

In games against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal, he was the perfect man for the occasion and was vital as Spurs grabbed seven points out of nine available.

Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko

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Sissoko’s Spurs career has had peaks and troughs and he is once again proving why many managers keep hold of him

Eric Dier

Not too long ago, like Aurier, the Englishman’s career appeared to be petering out at Tottenham.

Injuries and illness left him looking sluggish in midfield and when he was hauled off by Mourinho after 29 minutes against Olympiakos last November, it seemed to be a case of when, and not if, he would leave.

It was a dramatic fall for a player who starred for England at World Cup 2018 and had previously helped Spurs mount title challenges under Pochettino.

At the start of March, 2020, though, Mourinho handed Dier another chance, returning full-time to centre-back, where he’d previously excelled.

It’s been a masterstroke and, while it took time for him to fully bed in after the positional move, he now looks confident again, and even concerns about him coping with quick forwards have been, mostly, allayed.

Hugo Lloris embraces Tottenham teammate Eric Dier

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Dier is now proving he can be a superstar centre-back

Steven Bergwijn

You could have forgiven him had the Dutchman been worried about his career at Spurs when Gareth Bale returned on loan in the summer.

Injuries have stifled his start to life in N17 and there were a lot of worried fans when he returned to the club last international break and deemed ‘unfit’ by Netherlands.

His next three matches, though, have been thoroughly impressive.

While they haven’t showcased his attacking ability too often, although partially this has been down to playing up against Kyle Walker and Reece James, both in fine form this term, they have shown him to be tactically astute and defensively aware.

He’s played both on the left and the right wings, while also moving centrally when needed and really provided protection for his teammates when they were up against, while stretching the opposition on the counter.

They will have been morale boosting games and should stand him in good stead against weaker opponents.

Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn

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Bergwijn doesn’t have a single goal or assist in the Premier League but has been excellent in the last three games

Ledley King

Okay, not a player, but a club legend here. Many were sceptical of his arrival into Mourinho’s team, believing it may have been a PR move rather than an astute coaching move.

The proof is in the pudding and its no consequence Spurs’ defensive improvements have come during his tenure.

Dier commented at the weekend about his relationship with the former England star.

He told Tottenham’s matchday programme: “The way he played was something that I really loved and it’s been great for me to have him here.

Tottenham coach Ledley King speaks with Toby Alderweireld and Matt Doherty

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King is held in high esteem and proving to be a fine coach and mentor

“I speak to him a lot. Just little conversations every now and then. Before a game, after a game. We just have little conversations on points here and there about the opposition, about different aspects. all the time.

“We have a constantly open dialogue where we can talk about things.”

Meanwhile, youngster Japhet Tanganga has also praised King, insisting his involvement has been key.

He said: “I think it is very important and it has helped a lot of the defensive players, whether it is in training or extras, asking him what you can improve on to the point of watching other games, and having his mind, someone who has been in the game for such a long time, you can use his intelligence, his mindset of what he knows and how to improve.

For us it has been very important because we have the tool to better ourselves and better ourselves defensively.

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