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Tottenham Hotspur: why Harry Kane’s goals hold the key for Pochettino

Harry Kane has only scored in three games so far this Premier League season, and three of those games have been three of Spurs’ four wins. A return of 1 in 2 for Kane is far from poor, but the standards that England’s captain has set himself mean questions are inevitable when the Tottenham talisman does not get on the scoresheet; an occurrence when Tottenham lost to both Watford and Liverpool.

Since Mauricio Pochettino took charge of the North London side, August and September tend to show the sides poorest run of form in a season. This trend also corresponds with Harry Kane’s goal scoring form. Kane had failed to score in the month of August for Spurs until he netted twice this season against Fulham and Manchester United.

However, the month of September has seen goals dry up for the Tottenham striker, with just one goal from his three games this month, and attacking contributions have had to be sourced from other players in the squad. Although in previous seasons Kane’s goalscoring tends to peak around December, Spurs are in desperate need of goals; the pace set by Chelsea and Liverpool this season means Pochettino’s pursuit of Champions League football has a more competitive edge to it; the chasing pack must simply chase harder.

Is the change in formation a problem?

This summer’s transfer window saw Spurs become the first club in Premier League history to not sign a single player. However, last January Pochettino signed Brazilian winger Lucas from Paris Saint-Germain and he has played a key role in the starting lineup this season. He won the August Premier League player of the month but has his introduction to the squad caused Harry Kane’s form to dip?

Kane no longer appears to be playing his lone forward role in which he spearheads Tottenham’s attack. Instead this season he has an attacking partner. Yet, what we now tend to see is Harry Kane adopting a role that fans are not used to seeing and perhaps does not suit their key goal scorer. Rather than playing on the last man and being difficult to track, Kane is coming deeper into midfield to gather the ball whilst Lucas remains on the last man. Adopting this playing style seems to counteract why Kane is such a deadly player. It would possibly suit him more to have Lucas, a more comfortable player with the ball at his feet, to be the player that drops deeper to link with midfield.

Has Kane recovered from the World Cup?

Harry Kane had a dream summer with England reaching the semi-finals and finishing fourth in the 2018 World Cup; gaining the accomplishment of finishing with the Golden Boot in the process. But could his World Cup performances be hindering his start to this season?

Kane went into the World Cup recovering from an injury that he suffered towards the tail end of last season. Also, when looking at his performances in the knock out stages, Kane did begin to come looking for the ball in deeper areas of the field; perhaps the role he is adopting is due to fatigue.

Does Kane suit a deeper role?

When looking at an attacker who plays in a deeper role there are certain qualities that the player must possess. One skill that Kane has in abundance is his ability to hold up play. As a natural target man, Kane brings Spurs players into the attack when he holds the ball. One thing that he is not as strong as it his passing ability. In the first five fixtures this season, Kane’s passing accuracy sat at 70.1%, averaging one key pass a game. He also averages around 20 passes per game whereas Christian Eriksen passes the ball around 54 times per game. With these statistics perhaps Tottenham’s performances would suffer less if Kane was to remain a sole striker and Lucas play in a wider role. Kane works better when players feed the ball to him to finish chances; not the other way around.

Tottenham, however, have also been missing strong players from their midfield. Dele Alli returned to action against Brighton after missing the Liverpool game whilst Victor Wanyama made a substitute appearance in the same game following a period of injury. It may be a case of getting a key player back to full fitness in the midfield role and allowing Kane to play in his natural position. However, it is simple to see that whilst Kane is not in form, neither are Spurs. He is a key player to their challenge for the top four and his performances are pivotal to Spurs’ success.

One thing is for certain, Harry Kane will be amongst the top goal scorers this season. The one season wonder, again and again…

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