A number of issues contributed to Spurs’ draw with Southampton, none of which having as much impact as the lack of offensive support for Harry Kane.
Christian Eriksen’s absence certainly hampered Tottenham’s usually fluid attack, and so too did the wet and boggy conditions on the south coast. But those factors alone shouldn’t be enough to derail a side of Tottenham’s credence and quality.
Whether we like to admit it or not, our beloved Lilywhites would be in a dire state without Kane’s prolific offensive output. The elephant in the room reared its ugly head on Sunday, and not for the first time.
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Kane, who scored Tottenham’s sole tally against Southampton, has 45 percent of his team’s Premier League goals this season.
No other club in England relies on an individual as much as Tottenham count on Kane: Wayne Rooney, with 10 goals, has scored 38 percent of Everton’s goals while Mohamed Salah has a 33 percent share of Liverpool’s markers.
Nobody else comes close to scoring at Kane’s alarmingly disproportionate rate.
And as impressive as that is, it’s also gravely disconcerting.
While a winger like Bordeaux’s Malcolm would help, he’s not the solution to all that ails Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino needs a shifty, speedy, creative forward to support, supplement and partner Kane. I’m not disillusioned enough to think the gaffer will transform entirely his tactics to accommodate a new signing, all of a sudden altering his philosophy by deploying two men up front.
But there is scope, particularly in matches like the one at St. Mary’s, that would lend itself to playing two up front. Debilitated by Eriksen’s illness, Pochettino opted to start with Mousa Sissoko, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier as the trifecta patrolling the midfield, playing directly into Southampton’s rough-and-tumble persona.
The partnership of Dier and Dembele have more than enough to cope with Southampton’s physical prowess. Starting Sissoko, who didn’t necessarily perform poorly, was overkill, his position made redundant on a day tailor-fitted for a bit of craft from a skilled second striker. Seeing Pochettino bring Erik Lamela for an added attacking threat instead of Fernando Llorente says it all.
Pundits reckon no striker wants to play second fiddle to Kane, a logical and reasonable excuse for Tottenham’s inability to lure another top frontman to North London. Surely, though, any proficient forward can see the merit in suiting up beside Kane, whether to play alongside or in support of the club’s sniper.
But the rightful suitor cannot share similar attributes or physicality traits with our top marksman. He must be the polar opposite in playing style and character, while still having the desired complementary effect.
Not taking anything away from Fernando Llorente, but a move for an élite secondary striker is well overdue, and until Spurs solve this unrelenting bugbear, they’ll find winning the Premier League just beyond their outstretched reach.