This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Harry Kane’s form has been sliding to the point where it has become a worry for Tottenham Hotspur.
The England international remains an elite calibre striker with a genuinely exceptional scoring record.
After a quiet start to the season, he has still scored 10 goals in 15 outings in all competitions.
Yet his statistics point to a player who is struggling.
Per WhoScored, he averages 2.7 shots per game, 0.7 key passes, 0.5 dribbles, two dispossessions and 2.4 unsuccessful touches, while his passing accuracy is a mere 69.1%.
Compare that with last season: He averaged 3.6 shots per game, 1.1 key passes, 1.4 dribbles, 1.6 dispossessions, 2.9 unsuccessful touches and a passing accuracy of 73.1%.
The season prior is even starker; in 2017/18 Kane averaged five shots per game, 0.9 key passes, 1.3 dribbles, 1.6 dispossessions and 1.7 unsuccessful touches. His passing accuracy was 71.2%.
This is a decline. In 2017/18, a season in which he netted 30 Premier League goals, one sees a single-minded striker who is always looking to hit the back of the net. In 2018/19, his game is slightly more rounded, as he looks to bring others into play, while his passing accuracy also improved.
This season, though, he seems caught between a rock and a hard place. He doesn’t shoot as much as he used to, he rarely runs with the ball and he loses the ball regularly. Combine that with poor passing accuracy and it adds up to a headache for manager Mauricio Pochettino.
The Spurs boss has to find a way to bring Kane into play.
Examine his match statistics thus far this season. He has attempted over 20 passes three times. His average passes per game number is just 16.5.
At his nadir, he completed just 50% of the passes he attempted in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal. The conclusion? Seven accurate passes.
Now, this is not to say that he should be dropping deeper and upping that number, quite the opposite.
Pochettino needs to construct his attack around Kane’s strengths because, at the moment, Spurs are merely accentuating his weaknesses.
Yes, he is still scoring goals, but he is toiling when he is not shooting and it is not helpful to the team.
Against Sheffield United at the weekend, as Spurs drew 1-1, Kane didn’t make a tackle, an interception or complete a dribble. He had two shots on goal but didn’t score and attempted 17 passes with an accuracy of 58.8%.
Kane remains an elite striker and his record speaks for itself but he needs some help.
Pochettino needs to find a way to surround him with the support he requires in order to get back to the lean, hungry striker he once was.
The stats prove that Kane can do it if he is given the tools; it is his manager’s challenge to source them.