Harry Kane’s impact for Tottenham went far beyond his goals last season, and if anyone needed proof of that, the last 25 or so minutes for Spurs against Stoke should solidify that in the mind.
Before he was subbed off due to a twinge in has calf, Spurs were absolutely rampant. They were fluid, structured and able to attack Stoke consistently and in waves. If Jack Butland didn’t deny him from close range right before he was subbed off, I’m probably not writing this piece right now.
Without Kane, Spurs lacked a focal point to relieve the relentless Stoke pressure. Because of that, their spells in possession were short, not productive and therefore they had no way of even trying to bandage the wound that was slowly opening. Nacer Chadli had played a very solid game up until he was charged with leading the line, but after that he looked out of his depth. Erik Lamela came on didn’t help matters much either.
What will inevitably be lost in the doom and gloom of “it’s the same old Spurs” is just how well they played in the first 60 minutes against a Stoke team that is a quality side and will only be getting better. If it wasn’t for Jack Butland, and a few not completely shined finishing boots, Spurs would have ran away with the game. Stoke were absolutely on the front foot as expected when they made their double switch, and Stephen Ireland was absolutely immense. But what can’t be understated is the forced change Mauricio Pochettino had to make that changed the game, and the negative spiral didn’t stop after Spurs gave away the penalty.
Pochettino admitted as much after the game, going as far to say that Harry Kane was “tired”, even though he was seen with ice on his calf. This game shows just how important he is to Spurs and their future performances, not just with his goals but everything else. His passing today was sublime, his hold-up play underrated, and his ability to lift the spirit of his teammates when it was needed is unquestioned. So when he had to come off today, forced changed or not, Spurs lost their drive and gave Stoke the glimmer of hope they needed.
What today should prove is how desperately Spurs need other options up front. Clinton Njie is a good start, but a true backup striker is probably necessary. Mauricio Pochettino needs someone who can hold up play that isn’t Harry Kane, just so Kane doesn’t end up being run into the ground when the fixture congestion that always seems to afflict Spurs with the Europa League comes calling.
Because of his 31 goals, the other aspects of Harry Kane’s game went largely underappreciated last season. Maybe now eyes will turn to the complete footballer he is and just what he means for Tottenham. Without him, a smooth cruise can turn into a rough ride.
Follow me on Twitter @MattsMusings1
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