It is probably not time to press the panic button yet, but Son Heung-min certainly has his work cut out for him to defend his Golden Boot in the Premier League this season.
The South Korean star for Tottenham Hotspur has not yet scored after the first four matches into the 2022-2023 season. The four-game drought matches the longest goalless skid from the 2021-2022 season, when Son scored 23 goals to become the first Asian winner of the Premier League's scoring title.
The chance to break the ice comes this week at London Stadium against West Ham United. The match kicks off at 3:45 a.m. Thursday in Korean time (7:45 p.m. Wednesday in London).
Son recorded an assist in the season opener against Southampton but has been held in check since.
His performance on the weekend against Nottingham Forest FC was particularly concerning. In 74 minutes of action, Son had 26 touches of the ball, which, according to a report by Sky Sports, was the fewest of all 22 players that started the match for both sides, including the two goalkeepers.
Richarlison, one of Spurs' key summer signings, subbed in for Son and made his presence felt quickly, as he assisted on Harry Kane's 81st-minute goal to round out the 2-0 victory. And Son was visibly frustrated at being taken out of the match.
Son has started all four matches so far this season but Richarlison has arguably been a more impactful contributor on offense in his substitute appearances. In Richarlison's 63 minutes so far, Spurs have scored three goals.
Son had three goals over his first five matches of last season. He went through a four-game drought from October to November and then broke out by scoring a goal in four consecutive matches.
The streaky scorer wrapped up his Golden Boot campaign by netting six goals in his final five games.
Whether the floodgates will open this week remains to be seen, but Son does have good history against West Ham. He has seven goals in 15 career meetings against West Ham, including a brace in March during the last season.
While Son has not been able to find the back of the net, the goals leaderboard is crowded with players who have multiple markers already.
Erling Haaland, who signed with Manchester City in the summer after setting the Bundesliga on fire with 62 goals in 67 matches over the past three seasons, is leading the way with six goals. He scored his first Premier League hat trick against Crystal Palace over the weekend.
Kane, Son's longtime sidekick, is tied for second in the league with his team-high four goals. Four players have netted three goals each.
Despite Son's early struggles, Spurs are off to an undefeated start with three wins and a draw. They are in third place with 10 points. Man City also have 10 points but hold the tiebreak edge over Tottenham in goal difference, plus-8 to plus-6
West Ham lost their first three matches before beating Aston Villa 1-0 last week. They are in 16th place among 20 teams.
The one other South Korean in the Premier League, Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers, is also looking for his first goal of the season.
Wolves take on Bournemouth at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, or 3:30 a.m. Thursday in Seoul. (Yonhap)