Harry Kane picked up a nasty-looking injury against Millwall in the FA Cup on Sunday. How will his expected absence affect Tottenham on the pitch?
Harry Kane left Tottenham’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Millwall on Sunday after a nasty-looking injury to his ankle. The severity of his injury is still unknown, and Kane will undergo an ankle scan to determine how long he’ll be sidelined for. He will miss some time, though. That much is certain.
The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Spurs, as they’re entrenched in a nip-and-tuck battle with Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and even Manchester United for next season’s coveted four Champions League places.
To make matters more troubling for Spurs, Kane suffered an injury to the same ankle earlier this season. That injury sidelined Tottenham’s talisman for 10 games. There’s no question Spurs struggled to muster a consistent offensive threat during his absence.
Tottenham scored six goals in five Premier League matches without their marksman, while tallying 13 goals in five EFL Cup and Champions League encounters. However, those stats are disproportionately swollen, as Spurs exploded for five goals during an EFL Cup tie against League One Gillingham.
Subtract that game from the equation and Spurs offensive output diminishes considerably. So how will Mauricio Pochettino solve this potentially calamitous problem?
While concerned about his star’s condition, Pochettino made it clear that Spurs can’t afford to wallow in self-pity.
“Of course I’m sad about Harry’s injury but we have to find a solution,” he said. “When you lose a player like Harry you will miss him. Harry is one of the best strikers in England but we can’t cry.”
Spurs’ potential solutions
So, what are the potential solutions Pochettino has at his disposal?
Let’s first talk about the elephant in the room.
This particular elephant goes by the name of Vincent Janssen. Does Pochettino have faith in Janssen, whose first season in the Premier League has been mired by difficulty?
Probably not, but he might not have a choice. Janssen scored three goals and added an assist during Kane’s absence. None of those goals, however, came from open play. He broke that streak yesterday, as Janssen scored his first goal from open play in a Spurs shirt. Mind you, that goal, with Spurs already leading 4-0, had no bearing on the outcome.
Hopefully it injects the snakebitten striker with a modicum of much-needed confidence. Spurs supporters will hope that goal against Millwall spearheads a revival for the consistently out-of-form striker.
Maybe he can play with the kind of confidence Heung-min Son exuded against Millwall on Sunday. That’s probably wishful thinking, though.
Son notched his first hat-trick for Spurs in the 6-0 rout. The South Korean will now once again be relied upon heavily, just like he was during Kane’s absence earlier in the season.
Son, whose brace away to Middlesbrough on Sept. 24 single-handedly earned Spurs all three points, is maybe the most important element while Kane is recovering.
I don’t see the gaffer changing the 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1 formations which have brought the North Londoners such tremendous success.
By that logic, Pochettino has two primary options. He either plays Son alone up front with Dele Alli slightly in front of Christian Eriksen in a 3-4-2-1. Janssen would warm the bench in that system, a familiar spot for the big Dutchman.
Otherwise, Pochettino gives Janssen yet another chance in the first team, employing two strikers up front in a 3-4-1-2. Son and Janssen would play in tandem, while Alli would offer support in a No. 10 role.
This, however, is the more unlikely option, especially as Mousa Dembele or Victor Wanyama would have to make way for Janssen.
Kane will be sorely missed
Spurs, no matter how you spin it, will dearly miss their leader, both in terms of offensive output and on-field presence.
Scoring 36 percent of Spurs goals this season, Kane is arguably the most important player to his side of all Premier League outfits. Zlatan Ibrahimovic might also have a case but few others even enter the discussion. That’s how important Kane is to his club.
Kane has scored 24 goals in 28 appearances this season and leads the league with 19 top-flight goals. Only Romelu Lukaku, who has played five more games than Kane, has as many goals.
Spurs, devoid of Kane, mustered 1.2 goals per game while they’re offensive output increases to 2.14 goals per match with their homegrown superstar in the lineup. There’s no substitute for that kind of production.
Hopefully for Spurs the scan shows favorable results, as Tottenham can’t afford to lose Kane long-term, no matter how resourceful Pochettino is.