EPL

Harry Kane: How the Spurs striker's April hot streak gave his career lift-off

By Sports Desk April 19, 2020

Harry Kane is poised to mount a challenge to Alan Shearer's Premier League goals record - and it all began with an April purple patch.

At the beginning of April 2014, the man who has gone on to become England captain was a lively enough Tottenham prospect, albeit struggling for game time in the Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor era.

Kane had yet to score in the English top flight, either for Spurs or in an unproductive loan spell at Norwich, although he had done better in stints in the lower leagues with Millwall, Leyton Orient and Leicester City.

His world changed thanks to a stroke of ill-fortune for Soldado, the goal-shy Spaniard injured in a thumping 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, giving Kane a chance to make his first Premier League start.

Tim Sherwood was in his final weeks as Spurs boss, but it was he who promoted Kane and a three-game scoring run was the result, changing the course of Kane's career and Tottenham's history.

BAD LUCK FOR BLACK CATS, BLOW TO BAGGIES, COTTAGERS CONDEMNED

Before starting against Sunderland on Monday, April 7, Kane had made eight Premier League appearances in his career - including three for Norwich - and had not netted in 170 minutes of action.

In the 2013-14 Premier League season, he had featured for only 32 minutes in four brief forays from the bench, having a mere two shots.

Sherwood and predecessor Andre Villas-Boas gave Kane plenty of domestic cup and Europa League opportunities, but an EFL Cup strike at Hull had been his only goal of the season.

Kane landed the Premier League goal he craved by prodding home a Christian Eriksen cross from the left in a 5-1 slaying of Sunderland, before headers in the 3-3 fightback at West Brom and 3-1 home win over relegation-bound Fulham gave him three goals in 13 days.

STILL ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES

Starting from the Sunderland game, Kane had 26 shots in six consecutive starts, with an impressive accuracy of 73.3%, let down only by being unable to convert as many of those chances as he would have wanted. Those three in three games were his only Premier League goals of the campaign.

Opta's expected goals model - known as xG - shows that Kane might have done better. He had an xG figure of 4.56 goals for that period, but it would not be long before Kane began exceeding the forecasts of such metrics.

MAKING HIS MARK FOR POCH

Kane was back on the bench for the start of the 2014-15 season as the Mauricio Pochettino era began, but a flood of Europa League and League Cup goals led to inevitable promotion within the Spurs ranks.

He ended that campaign with 21 Premier League games in 34 appearances, netting once every 122.9 minutes of action and far exceeding his 14.46 xG prediction.

GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND

Opta's xG measurements are based on the nature of the chance falling to a player, including looking at whether opportunities are defined as big chances.

Kane has consistently surpassed the xG metrics, demonstrating how clinical he has been, often taking chances when it appeared he stood only a slim chance of scoring.

In 2015-16 he bagged 25 Premier League goals (xG: 21.75), in 2016-17 he grabbed 29 in 30 games (xG: 18.59), in 2017-18 Kane hit 30 goals in the top flight for the first time (xG: 24.79), and last season his 17 goals in 28 games defied xG of 14.77.

During the current, coronavirus-disrupted campaign, Kane has netted 11 times in 20 Premier League games (xG: 7.19), again often proving his team's driving force.

CLIMBING UP THE CHARTS

It all began with that April 2014 burst, with Kane now up to 136 Premier League goals, putting him 13th on the all-time list.

Still just 26 years old, he has plenty of time to move closer to Shearer's record of 260 goals in the competition and is within striking distance of former Tottenham favourites Teddy Sheringham (146), Les Ferdinand (149) and Jermain Defoe (162).

It is little wonder Kane has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, but to Spurs he is surely priceless.

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