Tottenham's Missing Link: Kane or Alderweireld?

Tottenham's Missing Link: Kane or Alderweireld?

Tottenham have been plagued with a number of major injuries this season and Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld were perhaps the two most important players to suffer. The duo are both hugely influential to Mauricio Pochettino’s side and their absence has certainly been felt.

Spurs currently sit in 5th position in the Premier League, behind rivals Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. In their last seven games they have failed to pick up a victory, though their 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates in the north London derby was considered a pleasing result. Disappointing performances in Europe against Bayer Leverkusen were made even worse by uninspired draws in the Premier League against West Brom and Middlesbrough. All-in-all, it’s been a disappointing few weeks at Tottenham and Kane’s return last Sunday was one of the best things to happen all season. But which star have they missed more – Alderweireld or Kane?

The Belgian centre-back is hoping to return for their clash against West Ham after the international break and there is no doubt he will strengthen the team. Alderweireld is considered by many to be one of the best defenders in the league and his partnership with compatriot Jan Vertonghen, has been crucial to Tottenham’s solid defensive record in the last two seasons. Spurs have conceded just 11 goals so far in all competitions during the 2016-17 campaign and remain unbeaten in the league – a feat no other team in English football can boast. Out of those goals conceded, five have been scored when Alderweireld was out of the team on six occasions.

There is no sugar-coating his influence on the team but Tottenham do have a number of strong alternatives in defence. Eric Dier has done well in the centre-back role in Alderweireld’s absence and has added composure to the defence. Kevin Wimmer, who signed for Pochettino in 2015 for £4.3 million, has made just 24 first team appearances to date and could be forgiven for being frustrated at his lack of action after signing a new contract in the summer. However, he’s been given more minutes since Alderweireld picked up his knee injury and has performed reasonably well. He scored an own goal against Arsenal and was overrun by Daniel Sturridge in the EFL Cup against Liverpool, but overall he has not done too much wrong. Danny Rose, Kyle Walker and Vertonghen are all very competent defenders too and Spurs have never looked weak without Alderweireld in the back four. The Belgian will certainly improve the team but it’s goals that Tottenham looked to have missed the most.

Kane was out of action for two months before making his return, scoring a second-half penalty against Arsenal last Sunday. It was his third league goal of the season in just six league games after picking up the Golden Boot during the 2015-16 campaign. He is Tottenham’s talisman; their star striker and without him, Spurs look lack-lustre up front. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are the team’s entrusted play-makers but so far this season they have simply not offered enough. Between the pair, only six goals have been created. Alli has scored three Premier League goals but has failed to record a single assist all season, whereas Eriksen has set-up three goals but has failed to find the back of the net himself in 10 games.

Tottenham’s midfielders have been exposed due to the lack of firepower from their forwards. Vincent Janssen, who joined in from AZ Alkmaar in July for £17 million has been far from emphatic. The Dutchman has only scored three goals in all competitions this season and grabbed his only Premier League goal against Leicester in October. He’s struggled to adapt to football in England and although he has scored two goals in his last four games, he offers very little in comparison to Kane. Son Heung-Min has also been disappointing this season. The 24 year-old made a bright start to the season, scoring five goals in his opening five games but has not scored since September during the 1-0 victory against CSKA Moscow and his lack of goals has coincided with a poor run of form for Pochettino’s side.

Kane’s return will certainly give fans hope and Tottenham’s play-makers will have their talisman up front once again. He is perhaps then the bigger loss and whereas Spurs have made up for their deficiencies in defence, they have not found an alternative in attack.