Harry Kane shows there are plenty of strings to his bow in Cardiff victory - (2021)
Prior to New Year’s Day, Cardiff City were the only Premier League opponent who Harry Kane had failed to score against. It took the Tottenham Hotspur striker just two minutes and 21 seconds to add the Bluebirds to a list which now features 28 clubs, as Kane’s early effort set Mauricio Pochettino’s men on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory.
There was an element of good fortune to the opening goal of the game, the ball ricocheting off Kane’s body and creeping past Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. The Spurs man had played a key role in the start of the move, however, collecting possession on the halfway line, expertly turning away from Aron Gunnarsson and then racing into the box to get on the end of Kieran Trippier’s cross.
That was Kane’s 14th goal of the season, drawing him level with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the top of the Premier League scoring charts. The England international has proven in the last few months that he is far more than just a goalscorer, though, something which was again in evidence in south Wales on Tuesday.
Kane regularly played as a withdrawn striker during his ascension through the youth ranks at White Hart Lane, and although he possesses a fantastic scoring rate over a number of seasons it would be wrong to consider the Spurs man as an out-and-out goal-getter and nothing more. Kane is arguably the world’s most rounded centre-forward at present, with his performances in 2018/19 featuring even more of a creative element than those seen in previous campaigns.
As well as his contribution in the build-up to his own goal against Cardiff, Kane also played a part in Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min’s strikes. For the former, scored in the 12th minute, he instigated the move by releasing Moussa Sissoko down the right flank with a wonderful pass; for the latter, it was Kane’s first-time ball which set up Son for his eighth goal of 2018/19.
There were numerous other examples of Kane dropping deep to pick up possession, including one occasion midway through the first half when centre-back duo Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez were the only Spurs players closer to their own goal than the striker. With Son also fielded up top in a 4-4-2 diamond formation and Sissoko and Alli afforded the license to make runs beyond the centre-forward from midfield, Kane was encouraged to drift away from the opposition centre-backs and make things happen outside the box.
Strikers will always be judged by their goal return before anything else, but Kane’s willingness to contribute elsewhere has barely harmed his efficiency inside the penalty area. He took a total of six shots on Tuesday – at least three more than any other player on the pitch – and is averaging 3.3 per match this term, a drop on last season’s tally of 5 but still the fourth highest rate in the top flight. He has also provided four assists since the campaign began – two more than he managed in the entirety of 2017/18 – and is averaging 20 passes per game, 2.2 more than last time out.
Kane may be the Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer, but there is so much more to his game than simply putting the ball in the back of the net.
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