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Is Harry Kane’s return key to Tottenham Hotspur’s top four hopes?

Drew Goodsell | 9 June 2020

England captain returns to Spurs side following hamstring surgery

Tottenham Hotspur have finished inside the top four of the Premier League table four seasons in a row, but the North London side lie in eighth with nine games remaining.

Their first full season in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hasn’t quite gone to plan. Former manager Mauricio Pochettino received his marching orders, with three-time Premier League winner José Mourinho coming in to replace him.

But Spurs’ form hasn’t improved since the Portuguese manager’s arrival, and the club face the prospect a season without Champions League football with the Lilywhites seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea as 10/1 outsiders to achieve a top four finish.

As the Premier League prepares to get back underway following its two and a half month lay-off, Kane prepares to suit up for Spurs for the first time since his side’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton on New Years’ day.

With the England captain looking ‘fitter than ever’, could Kane’s return to the side be key to Spurs’ hopes of a top four finish? We look at what he’ll bring to the side.

Eye for goal

Across the last four seasons, Spurs have averaged 74 goals per campaign including a league high 86 in the 2016/17 season.

During that period, Kane has managed 101 Premier League goals in 133 matches, as well as providing 14 assists too.

Between the start of the 2015/16 campaign and the end of the 2018/19 season, Kane was involved in just under 39% of Spurs goals, despite missing 19 matches in that period.

In the same period, both Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min have scored 42, the second highest total.

Son Heung-Min Jose Mourinho

It’s well documented that Spurs lack a second option up front too, with Son occasionally filling Kane’s role up front. Brazilian winger Lucas Moura has often started in his place too, but without much luck, as Lucas has only managed to score four times this season.

That’s seven short of Kane’s total for this campaign, with the English forward scoring 11 in 20 matches, leading the side once again.

Since Kane’s injury, the North London side have only managed 11 goals in eight Premier League matches, with Son as top-scorer in that time, with four to his name.

They’ve only managed to bag 11 points from a possible 24 in that time too, failing to score in a home defeat to Liverpool and an away draw at Watford.

Kane has eight fewer goals than Jamie Vardy, who leads the way to the Golden Boot for this season, meaning the Spurs frontman is joint sixth in the betting to win his third award at 16/1.

Focal point

While others have tried their best to fill the hole left by Kane’s absence, stats have proved they just don’t have the same quality and can’t offer what the Englishman does as the lone man upfront.

Kane’s physicality means that he’s not afraid to hold the ball up wherever he is on the pitch, and standing at just under 6ft 2, he can challenge in the air too.

Spurs’ back up options up front, Lucas and Son, aren’t quite as tall, with the Brazilian around 5ft 6 and the South Korean just over 6ft.

Lucas Moura

Their frame doesn’t allow for the same level of physicality either, with Lucas more suited to a foot race, running in behind the back line, and Son better suited to play with the ball at his feet, running head on at defenders.

Spurs haven’t had a similar back up option to Kane since they allowed Fernando Llorente to leave on a free in September 2019. Though Llorente didn’t have the same turn of pace as Kane, the Spaniard could hold the ball up for teammates. In a Mourinho team, it’s an option they’ve missed even more with Kane out of the side.

Leadership

While Kane hasn’t taken the captain’s armband from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris just yet, he remains an instrumental voice on the pitch with his role as vice-captain.

Outside of the Premier League, Kane’s absence in Spurs’ historic Champions League run last season was felt on the pitch, until he voiced his opinions in a half-time team talk against Ajax in the semi-final second leg.

Trailing 2-0 at the break, former Spurs right back Kieran Trippier revealed that the Spurs forward went ‘mental’ at his teammates during the interval, inspiring his team from the bench to turn the tie on its head, and indirectly lead Spurs to the Champions League final.

We’ve seen his leadership skills in an England shirt too, working closely with manager Gareth Southgate to draw the squad closer together. Kane led England to the 2018 World Cup semi-final, the first time they’ve made it that far since Italia 1990.

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