When Mauricio Pochettino swapped St Mary’s for White Hart Lane this summer, much focus was placed on how the Argentine’s departure would affect poor old Southampton. The presumption was that Tottenham, a side struggling for consistency, would go from strength to strength whilst mirroring the high pressing, attractive style of football that Pochettino implemented with The Saints. The influx of players purchased by Daniel Levy with the Gareth Bale bounty would finally start firing on all cylinders under their new manager. Or so we thought.
Tottenham are currently languishing in twelfth position, winning just four of their eleven fixtures to date. In stark contrast, Southampton are in second place; four points behind front runners Chelsea, and four points ahead of last year’s Premier League Champions Manchester City.
While Ronald Koeman can rely on new Southampton hero Graziano Pelle for goals, Pochettino is struggling to get the best out of an attack currently as potent as a pensioner; post vasectomy. Spurs have scored just fourteen goals this season. Nine of these have come from midfield (Nacer Chadli with six, Christian Eriksen with three), while only three goals have been scored by strikers.
The burden of finding the net this season has fallen heavily on Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togo international’s recent alleged criticism of the Spurs fans will have done little to enhance his reputation at White Hart Lane, and he is yet to show the form that made him a such a success at bitter rivals Arsenal. Adebayor has made nine appearances in the league so far, scoring twice. He has also provided one assist in this time, though he has created twelve chances overall for his teammates.
Adebayor manages almost two shots per match, and hits the target 64% of the time, so it may come as a surprise to many that he’s only managed to find the net twice during this period. Analysis of his overall performance does highlight some positives however; he’s won twenty aerial duels and successfully completed 76% of his passes. The player that scored 46 goals for Arsenal, and 15 for Manchester City hasn’t just become a ‘bad’ player overnight, though you would think he will have to improve his goal-scoring ratio in order to keep his place in the team.
One Spurs striker who isn’t currently a threat to Adebayor is Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard looks a shadow of the player that scored 59 goals in just 101 appearances for Valencia after graduating from the Real Madrid B team. Soldado has scored just six times in his Tottenham career – one of which was on debut – despite being signed for the hefty sum of £26 million. He’s started just three matches in the league this season, with his attempts on goal finding the target just 43% of the time. He does average slightly more attempts per match than Adebayor, but clocks in a lower pass completion rate of 72%. He also lacks the physical presence of Adebayor, and has won just one aerial duel. Unless Soldado can recapture the form he displayed in La Liga, then he may be shipped back in the not too distant future.
The player that many think Pochettino should be calling on is England youngster Harry Kane. He’s garbage in net of course, but Kane has demonstrated an eye for goal that his older, much more experienced colleagues have not. The twenty-one year old has rifled in five goals in just four appearances in the Europa League, as well as just two goals in the League Cup, yet has only started once in the Premier League. He’s appeared from substitute’s bench six times, including the match against Aston Villa in which he scored a crucial winner, albeit via a deflection.
Unlike Soldado, Kane can compete with Emmanuel Adebayor in the air too, and has won seven aerial duels in just 198 minutes of playing time. He has attempted eight shots at a hugely impressive 83% accuracy rate. His pass completion is 75%, again higher than that of Soldado, but just below that of Adebayor.
Kane has shown a hunger and desire when playing for Tottenham that has endeared him greatly to the Tottenham faithful. Despite this, and his impressive statistics, Pochettino has insisted several times that he, and only he, will decide when Kane starts, citing that he selects his players while supporting the right balance within his starting eleven.
If the Spurs manager doesn’t find a way to get the best out of Adebayor and/or Soldado very soon, then he may have no choice but to throw the English youngster into his starting eleven.
Just don’t let him go in goal.