“Dynamic Duo Heung-Min Son and James Maddison Shine, but Dejan Kulusevski Emerges as Tottenham’s Silent Key Player Under Ange Postecoglou”

Joe Lee

When early November arrived, few could have predicted that to be the case. Under Ange Postecoglou, Spurs were predicted to take some time to adjust. The north London side was further hampered by Harry Kane’s departure.

Despite this, Spurs have amassed 26 points from their first ten games. When Chelsea makes the quick trip across the capital, they’ll try to go from 32 to 29 live on talkSPORT.

The key talking point of the narrative-heavy game is Mauricio Pochettino’s return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, nearly four years after his 2019 dismissal. Pochettino is the one who would want to ruin the Postecoglou celebration.

Chelsea, on the other hand, has had a dismal season opener. Despite making significant investments again this summer, the Blues are in the bottom half of the standings and have only won three of their first ten league games under the Argentine.

Spurs will therefore be confident in their ability to score three more points.

Son Heung-Min (8) is the only player in the Premier League with less goals than Erling Haaland (11) this season, but the underappreciated attacking star of Spurs may play a significant role in Monday’s London derby.

Although the untrained eye could find Dejan Kulusevski’s attacking production concerning, the Swede’s impact in the latter third is vital.

The winger, who leads the division in distance covered, Kulusevski is one of the hardest workers in the league. Spurs’ success has been largely down to his diligence off the ball.

In the Premier League this season, only Manchester United (80) has outscored Spurs (74) in terms of possession wins in the offensive third. The only one to do so is Pape Matar Sarr (11).

In pressing defences high up the pitch, Spurs are more likely to benefit from turnovers in possession in a key area with Kulusevski’s work rate at times going unnoticed. Even on the ball, though, Kulusevski is doing all he can to present the chances for his teammates. While the former Juventus man is yet to register an assist, it is not for want of trying.

Kulusevski ranks second for key passes from open play (22) in England’s top tier this term behind Mohamed Salah (24) and third for successful final third passes (151) of all Spurs players. What’s more, only Raheem Sterling (99) has made more touches in the opposition box than the 23-year-old (83) in the division with the Spurs man getting into dangerous positions to help his maintain pressure on backlines.

In addition, an average of 1.6 successful dribbles per 90 is a solid return for Kulusevski who has the knack for beating a marker with relative ease.

The willingness to get the ball down and take on defenders was particularly notable in the 1-0 win over Luton, where Kulusevski put in a fine shift to ensure 10-man Spurs returned to London with all the spoils.


For the most part Chelsea have been sound defensively this season, particularly on their travels. Only Arsenal (3) have conceded fewer away goals than the Blues (4) this season so Spurs will have their work cut out in order to return to the top of the Premier League on Monday night.

And while Kulusevski has scored just the two league goals this season, one of which was the decisive winner in the late, late 2-1 win over Sheffield United, his fine work on the Spurs frontline cannot be overstated.

Kulusevski is a key cog in this well-oiled Spurs machine. The goals and assists may not reflect the Sweden international’s importance but the underlying numbers are proof of his value to Postecoglou’s side.

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