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EPL Tactics Corner Gameweek 21; Analyzing Harry Kane’s Role For Tottenham Hotspur

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A few Premier League teams have solid squads, but are just one piece away from reaching their full potential. Arsenal’s missing link is thought to be a defensive midfielder. Liverpool have not been the same without Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Keep in mind that soccer teams are like puzzles and have to be arranged and tweaked in certain places until each piece falls into place.

For a few years, Tottenham Hotspur have had a team full of skilful players, but came into this season missing a dynamic and consistent striker that could keep up with the pace of the advanced midfielders in the squad. As the season began, Spurs were going to be dependent on their midfield for goals along with Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor. However, Adebayor is ageing and Soldado’s career hasn’t been the same since he smacked in all those penalties when he arrived at White Hart Lane. So the answer had to be Harry Kane, otherwise the North London squad was going to be in a lot of trouble.

With Adebayor leading the line for the majority of the team’s opening fixtures and Roberto Soldado having a shot at earning his spot up front, neither players were able to make a difference. There’s a couple of reasons for this and one was that neither were able to consistently link up with Spurs’ advanced midfielders. In games where Spurs performed poorly, including a 1-0 defeat to West Brom, Adebayor got the ball nine times from Danny Rose and twice from Eric Dier. The only player to give him the ball more than Dier was Christian Eriksen, who found him three times.

Adebayor was supposed to link up play and win balls in the air, but he just wasn’t able to make himself available in areas where he could combine often enough, nor was he able to score.

The same goes for Soldado, but we have far less of a sample size on him this season. A common denominator between the two is that they don’t win the ball back that often, nor do they generate energy for the team.

Kane does everything the two above did not do. Not only does he score and link up with other attackers, but he also pops up in different areas. His ability off-the-ball makes him really successful. Eriksen and Nacer Chadli are finding Kane in space. For example, Eriksen passed Kane the ball 10 times in the 5-3 win over Chelsea.

By moving around the pitch, Kane becomes particularly difficult to pick up. If Adebayor is in the team, you know he’s going to be pretty stationary and stay in the middle of the park and drift out wide for clearances. Meanwhile, Kane is dropping deep and going out wide not for the sake of it, but to find the ball and link up with teammates. He’s a smart and instinctive player who knows the importance of varying his runs. Against Chelsea, he’s going out wide and cutting in, while in the Crystal Palace game, he shows his ability to sit between the center backs.

He can also do both at the same time, as seen in the third clip. Kane’s ability to turn in tight spaces looks awkward, but he has deceptive control over the ball.

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He has also mastered the art of shooting when the opposition least expects it and his shots are really well placed. These rips from distance are textbook, as he drives the ball low, hard, and away from the keeper’s reach.

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Kane also works pretty hard too. In comparison to Adebayor and Soldado he fits into the pressing mentality Mauricio Pochettino is trying to get across to the squad. The 21-year-old isn’t necessarily going to win the ball a ton, though he does average creating a turnover or so more per game than his strike competition at Spurs. His work will force some poor decision making from the opposition when used in tandem with the rest of the front four.

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While Adebayor may be a good option to have on the bench for cup ties and for late in matches when Spurs want to chase a game with long balls, Kane is more than capable of scoring on crosses both in the air and on the ground. The goal below against Leicester City is the perfect example, as he is able to hold his run, get goal-side of the defender and give Tottenham the lead. It’s a fantastic finish and one Spurs will count on in their chase for a spot in the top four.

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