EPL

Worst spell in seven years prompts Kane questions before Chelsea clash

By Sports Desk September 17, 2021

Slow starts are nothing new to Harry Kane. Not until 2018 did the England captain score a Premier League goal in the month of August, by which point he had twice won the Golden Boot.

But there is added focus on Kane this year in the aftermath of his failed move from Tottenham to Manchester City.

And through three appearances – including two starts – in the opening four games of the 2021-22 campaign, the striker has attempted just two shots without scoring.

The last time Kane had two or fewer attempts across a three-match span in the Premier League was back in October 2014, but he did not start any of those outings against Sunderland, Southampton and Newcastle United, which produced a sole effort combined.

Since establishing himself as one of Europe's elite forwards, Kane has not endured such a lean league spell.

Chelsea, against whom Kane has scored just once in his past eight Premier League encounters, are up next, with a more effective display clearly required from Tottenham's talisman.

Nuno not helping

Nuno Espirito Santo oversaw three straight wins to start the league season, but Kane is not alone in suffering from the new coach's safety-first approach.

Spurs are averaging 9.5 shots per game this term, their lowest rate in a season since at least 2003-04, while only Watford (2.3) and Leicester City (3.4) have a lower expected goals total (3.7).

Tottenham also now have the sixth-lowest average possession in the division at 43.1 per cent.

Although this more conservative set-up has been in place for a little while now – Spurs last season started their sequences 39.7 metres from their own goal and have this term jumped slightly forward to 41.4m – it has only become more entrenched under Nuno.

A far cry from Mauricio Pochettino's pressing team, in which Kane thrived, Tottenham have had just 41 pressed sequences (fourth fewest) and 24 high turnovers (joint-fifth fewest) in 2021-22 so far and prefer instead to play on the counter, moving the ball 1.72 metres upfield per second (joint-third fastest).

This suits speedy fellow forwards Steven Bergwijn, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura far better than it does Kane, who is neither notably quick nor regularly carrying the ball – 7.3 carries per 90 minutes this season rank him ninth among the 11 Spurs outfielders to feature in 100 or more minutes.

With Tottenham relying on these rapid attacks, rather than patiently playing through the thirds and allowing Kane to get into dangerous positions, the 28-year-old has made only eight touches in the opposition box.

Deeper and deeper

Of course, as shown previously for Spurs and England, Kane can be effective in dropping deeper and picking out the runs of those faster team-mates.

And it's not as if Kane has not still been involved in Tottenham's play, having a role in 31.4 open play sequences per 90 – just shy of last year's rate of 31.8, which had leapt up from 25.7.

But just 3.2 of these sequences per 90 are ending in a shot, while Kane has not been involved in any open play sequences leading to a goal this term – a metric he unsurprisingly led (36) in 2020-21 when he topped the charts for Premier League goals and assists.

Kane is still creating chances – his four so far this season arriving every 49.5 minutes or every 22.8 touches – but Spurs would surely sooner have their main man on the end of such opportunities.

Having peaked with a shot every 16.8 minutes or every 6.9 touches in 2017-18, Kane's early-season form has seen an attempt every 99 minutes or every 45.5 touches.

Given he attempted 61.3 per cent of his shots last season from inside the box, despite renowned ability from long range, this primitive decline should come as no surprise.

Just 8.8 per cent of Kane's touches have been taken in the opposition box. That career-low mark continues a downward trend into a fifth straight season, but it may now have reached a point where it is harmful to his chances of scoring.

Since Yaya Toure's sublime 2013-14 season from midfield, every Premier League player to notch 20 goals in a season has taken at least 10 per cent of their touches in the opposition box.

Few would write off Kane's chances of a sixth career 20-goal campaign at this stage, but he should expect competition for his Golden Boot from Sunday's opponent Romelu Lukaku.

A picture of efficiency, Lukaku has scored three times from 12 shots for Chelsea this term, registering an attempt every 8.5 touches and a goal every 34 touches.

If Tottenham are to be successful this season, they need Kane to be hitting similar marks.

Whether that means a tweak to his role or a change in the entire system, something has to shift, for Lukaku could very easily show Nuno just what he is missing.

Related items

  • Celtics blow out Suns in statement win, Giannis dominant again as Bucks down Kings Celtics blow out Suns in statement win, Giannis dominant again as Bucks down Kings

    The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

    The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

    Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

    Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

    Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

    Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

    The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

    Giannis powers Bucks to another win

    Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

    The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

    Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

    Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

    Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

    Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

  • Celtics blowout Suns in statement win, Giannis dominant again as Bucks down Kings Celtics blowout Suns in statement win, Giannis dominant again as Bucks down Kings

    The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics had a statement win over the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns with a 125-98 blowout victory on Wednesday.

    The Celtics led by as much as 45 points and benched MVP candidate Jayson Tatum in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Suns welcomed back All-Star Chris Paul from a heel injury.

    Tatum finished with 25 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 24-year-old is the first player in Celtics history to average 30 points per game in his first 25 games of any season.

    Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points with seven rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points off the bench.

    Boston led 69-42 at half-time in the blowout win, which was the Celtics' second-biggest margin this season.

    Devin Booker struggled with four fouls and three field-goals made in the first half, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Paul had four points and four assists in 24 minutes on his return.

    The result means the Celtics improved to an NBA-best 21-5 record after three straight wins, while the Suns fall to 16-9.

    Giannis powers Bucks to another win

    Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-longest streak of consecutive 30-point games (eight) in franchise history as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Sacramento Kings 126-113.

    The Greek forward finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 field-goal shooting, with six rebounds and six assists as the Bucks improved to 18-6 with their third straight win. The victory extended the Bucks' win streak against the Kings to 13.

    Bucks guard Jrue Holiday made an excellent contribution with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kings forward Domantas Sabonis added 23 points with 12 rebounds.

    Banchero clutch in Magic OT win

    Top overall NBA Draft pick Pablo Banchero showcased his potential to help the Orlando Magic snap their nine-game losing streak with a 116-111 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The 20-year-old power forward scored 23 points for the game, including making all six of his free-throws in the final seven seconds of overtime to overturn a 111-110 deficit. The Clippers gave up two turnovers down the stretch.

    Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made another rare appearance together again, combining for 17 first-quarter points. George finished with 11 for the game with seven rebounds and five assists, while Leonard added 14 points with seven rebounds and three assists.

  • Maguire 'under more scrutiny' at Manchester United as defender thrives on World Cup stage Maguire 'under more scrutiny' at Manchester United as defender thrives on World Cup stage

    Harry Maguire feels he is "under a lot more scrutiny" with Manchester United than England, as the centre-back continues to impress at the World Cup.

    The Red Devils skipper has been a standout performer for Gareth Southgate's side at Qatar 2022, starting all four of their games to date and helping them to three clean sheets.

    It makes a marked contrast for the defender, who has struggled at club level over the past season-and-a-half, and has been deposed as a first-choice pick under new boss Erik ten Hag amid an injury layoff.

    Maguire himself has few complaints, acknowledging United were well under-par last term, and said he feels he is under the microscope more at Old Trafford than with the Three Lions.

    "At Manchester United, I'm under a lot more scrutiny," he added. "Everything I do gets analysed. Every pass I make gets analysed. Every goal we concede is a defender's fault.

    "If you're playing week in, week out as I did for three years, the last year hasn't been good enough. Everyone in the team didn't play well enough, and we came under a lot of scrutiny as players."

    Under Ten Hag however, United have overcome a shaky start - and the saga of Cristiano Ronaldo - to head into the World Cup break looking close to their best for two years.

    Maguire is delighted to see the turnaround, even if he is down the pecking order, and is relishing the chance to battle to get back into the Dutchman's thinking.

    "No one came out of the season with plaudits, so it was a general team issue last season, but this one has been much better," he added.

    "This is the first year I've really sat on a bench in a few games. I obviously got an injury as well, a thigh injury that kept me out for four weeks, but I'll fight to get my place back."

    Maguire will be expected to line up when England face off with defending champions France in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.