Tottenham Hotspur are up and running. After playing only fitfully in their first three matches of the season Mauricio Pochettino’s side found real rhythm here to inflict a chastening defeat on Stoke City. Son Heung-min started the scoring with two excellent goals before Dele Alli and Harry Kane struck one each as Tottenham racked up the same score by which they won here last season and, in doing so, fuelled hopes of another strong campaign.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes, meanwhile, may have a disciplinary charge to worry about in addition to his team’s botched start to the season. Stoke are bottom of the league with one point from four matches.
Tottenham took the lead here thanks to their ability to keep calm amid a storm caused in part by Stoke’s fury with the referee, Anthony Taylor. The official ordered Hughes to vacate the sideline in the 34th minute after the manager vented his anger at the booking of Marko Arnautovic for simulation.
The grievance may have been understandable – Arnautovic maybe tumbled to avoid a collision rather than to dupe the official – but Hughes’s protests were never likely to earn anything other than further punishment. As the manager stomped away after being sent off, he made angry gestures that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. For the next few minutes, boos resounded around the ground and every tackle brought howls of delight or outrage. Players needed to stay cool. Spurs did so better and were rewarded by Son’s goal in the 41st minute.
Joe Allen might have thwarted it if he had not overcommitted when trying to dispossess Christian Eriksen, allowing the Dane to sidestep him before looking up and pulling the ball back from the sideline to Son, who was unmarked 12 yards from goal. The South Korean guided it first time into the net with his left foot. Such composure can only have encouraged Mauricio Pochettino bearing in mind how his team lost their heads and the league title at Stamford Bridge last season.
Earlier in the match Spurs had to show patience and resilience to weather a storm of a different sort, as Stoke started with ominous power and quality. Wilfried Bony, making his debut for the hosts after joining on loan from Manchester City, gave Hughes’s team a much-needed a fulcrum up front. The Ivorian threatened as early as the second minute when he exchanged passes with Jonathan Walters before unleashing a 16-yard shot that was blocked by Jan Vertonghen.
Stoke continued to harass the visitors, pressing relentlessly and bossing midfield thanks to the strength and movement of Allen, Giannelli Imbula and Glenn Whelan. They forced a succession of corners, two of which led to close escapes for Spurs. Ben Davies headed away a ferocious long-range volley from Whelan, and Hugo Lloris was then grateful that Ryan Shawcross was unable to make proper contact with a header from three yards.
Tottenham gradually took the upperhand, however, thanks to the crispness and swiftness of their passing. Son served notice of his menace by collecting a crossfield pass from Toby Alderweireld on the half hour and dashing towards the Stoke box. Arnautovic chased back to disrupt his progress but inadvertently played the ball into the path off Alli who dragged a shot past the advancing Shay Given but wide of the post.
The afternoon then took a serious turn for the worse for Stoke, as Hughes was sent off and, amid the bedlam, Son shot Spurs in front.
Half-time brought a chance to regroup and Stoke did hint at a comeback early in the second half. But Son quashed it with a superb strike on the counter-attack, collecting another pass from Eriksen at the corner of the box and sweeping a first-time shot in at the far post. Stoke began to unravel and Spurs were not minded to show mercy. The visitors inflicted further damage through anther rapid counter-attack on the hour. Kyle Walker hurtled down the right and picked out Alli, who, like Son for the first goal, had found space in the middle of the box and took full advantage.
With Victor Wanyama on a yellow card and guilty of a couple of tackles that the home crowd believed should have resulted in a red, Pochettino made a substitution to ensure Tottenham kept 11 players on the pitch, replacing Wanyama with Érik Lamela. All that was missing from Tottenham’s point of view was a goal for Harry Kane. So Son helped deliver one. The Korean tricked his way down the left before providing a pass that enabled Kane to end his wait for his first goal of the campaign.
News Source TheGuardianNews