Comment and Analysis @ghostgoal
Charlie Austin v Harry Kane: Tottenham striker won the battle of the England hopefuls at Loftus Road
Last Updated: 07/03/15 7:18pm
Roy Hodgson was at Loftus Road on Saturday to see the top two English goalscorers in the Premier League go head-to-head. Charlie Austin and Harry Kane have both been linked with an England call later this month but it was Kane who stole the show with a brace in Tottenham’s 2-1 win over QPR.
As well as those goals we delve deeper to assess how the two men compared. Who covered the most ground? Who made the most high-intensity runs? Who played the most passes and which man fashioned the most chances for team-mates?
Kane showed great courage for the opening goal of the game, putting his head in where it hurts to beat both Nedum Onuoha and Robert Green to Andros Townsend’s lofted free-kick. His second effort – Kane’s 26th of the season in all competitions – was even more impressive.
Having broken the offside trap in latching onto Ryan Mason’s through-ball, Kane ushered Nacer Chadli away from the ball and took full responsibility himself. Using his team-mate as a decoy, he confidently rounded Green and slotted the ball into the empty net with his left foot. It was a finish of a man playing without a doubt in his mind.
Although Kane saw an early header well saved and should have done better with a wild effort in following up a Christian Eriksen strike, Austin came even closer when he saw a left-footed shot cannon off the underside of the bar with the scores goalless. It was a well-struck effort and perhaps the moment when the QPR striker might have suspected it wasn’t to be his day.
In total, Austin had nine shots – more than anyone else on the pitch – but found the target with only two of them. Indeed, six were blocked and he was also a little unfortunate to see a strong handball shout turned away at close range, but he did play a part in QPR’s goal with some good work in the channel to feed Bobby Zamora in the build-up to Sandro pulling one back.
There has been some suggestion that Kane has been tiring in recent weeks with fears of burnout being floated. However, that was emphatically not the case at Loftus Road where the 21-year-old forward covered more ground than any other player on the pitch – running 11.58 kilometres.
By comparison, Austin ran only 8.91km, the least of any outfield team-mate who played the full game. Kane also made more high-intensity sprints than his QPR counterpart and clocked the greater top speed too – hitting 31.90 km/h during the first half.
Both men are capable of holding the ball up well but it was Kane who was involved more. Austin completed only seven passes in the first half with just four of them (at a completion rate of 44%) coming in the Tottenham half. Kane, meanwhile, was a little more active on the ball in completing 10 passes in the opening 45 minutes at a success rate of 77 per cent.
After the interval, the pattern continued with Kane completing 20 passes in all to Austin’s 12 and making almost twice as many passes in the opposition half. That’s not to suggest that Austin was merely a poacher as he did produce a fine flicked through-ball to Matty Phillips only for the winger to be crowded out when he looked to be clean through.
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Austin might not have been able to find an equaliser for his struggling side, but the striker does deserve credit for his work at the other end. He found himself tracking a Kyle Walker run during the second half and when the ball fell nicely for Eriksen he did brilliantly to clear from near the goal-line.
Clearly Austin’s effort could not be faulted and Hodgson is will be encouraged by his performance that the QPR man is worthy of further attention when the England squad is announced later this month. But Kane’s display showed why the Spurs striker is entitled to feel he ought to be pushing for a place in Hodgson’s team let alone his squad. His wonderful season continues.