This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
One of the Premier League’s most lethal finishers for a number of years now, it’s easy to pigeonhole Harry Kane as a penalty box poacher, or just a classic number nine. His record in front of goal is exemplary, but rather than adding to his reputation, it actually detracts from the number of other qualities the 26-year-old possesses.
The Tottenham star has been carrying the goal-scoring burden for the north Londoners for a while now, and he has continued to deliver for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. In 263 games across all competitions, Kane has netted a remarkable 171 times. He has thrived in an environment where he has unequivocally been the main man, with players like Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli doing their best to feed him.
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But this season, things have been slightly different. Spurs haven’t been their usual flowing selves, and as per WhoScored, their average of 13.1 shots per game in the Premier League ranks them as the ninth-best in the division – below even the likes of Southampton, Watford and newly-promoted Aston Villa. Despite focusing 29% of their attacks through the middle of the pitch (the joint-most of any side), Pochettino’s men just don’t look particularly threatening from that area.
Eriksen, Alli and Erik Lamela have played a combined total of 11 games in the No.10 role this season, but have just two assists between them. The number ten role is supposed to be the biggest source of creativity, but Spurs have been woefully lacking in this department. It’s exactly why Pochettino would do well to take note of Kane’s performance for England against the Czech Republic on Friday night.
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Despite operating as a conventional centre-forward, the 26-year-old showcased his fine play-making abilities. He completed both of his attempted long balls, provided one key pass and created another big chance too. The likes of Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling looked threatening with their pace in behind, and it was Kane’s lovely first-time through ball that led to the latter earning the penalty for the Three Lions’ opening goal.
In truth, it was arguably the one real moment of genuine quality from an England player over the course of the game. The vision to find the Manchester City star, and then the ability to execute it spoke volumes of how Kane could thrive in a deeper role.
What formation should Pochettino be using?
If Pochettino was watching, he should take inspiration from his star man’s showing, and consider playing him in a deeper role to help Tottenham rediscover their creative touch.
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