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How do Tottenham cope without Harry Kane? We analyse the tactics and stats
Last Updated: 04/04/18 1:10pm
How do Tottenham cope without Harry Kane? We analyse Spurs' tactics ahead of their trip to Chelsea on Sunday...
Kane suffered an ankle injury during a 4-1 win at Bournemouth earlier this month - resulting in the striker being withdrawn from the England squad and his return date is uncertain.
Spurs face London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, knowing victory would give a huge boost to their chances of sealing a top-four finish.
But how will Mauricio Pochettino approach the game without his talisman striker? We check the stats to see how the manager adapts his tactics when the England striker is sidelined...
IN THE PAST...
In Kane's absence previously Pochettino has relied on Heung-Min Son or Vincent Janssen to fill the Englishman's boots, with the responsibility now falling almost exclusively on Son after Janssen joined Fenerbache on loan in September.
Spurs have also recruited additional firepower this season, signing Fernando Llorente from Swansea in August and Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain during the winter window, but neither have received much game time.
Llorente has had just one league start all season and made 13 appearances from the bench - accumulating only 215 minutes - while Moura is yet to be handed a start and has made only two substitute appearances.
The graphic below shows Spurs' activity and average positions in the nine league games they have played without Kane over the past two seasons.
Against the teams that would be regarded as tougher opposition - Manchester City, Leicester City and Manchester United - Spurs enjoyed more success by playing higher up the pitch, with greater space between defence and attack.
In October 2016, Spurs beat Manchester City 2-0, with Son playing as an advanced forward - supported by Dele Alli - and drew 1-1 with Leicester in the same month, with goalscorer Janssen spearheading the attack ahead of Son.
But Tottenham suffered a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United with uncharacteristic defensive activity and a clustered midfield in October this season.
Based on previous outings without Kane, Spurs appear to achieve more success with Son in an advanced role ahead of Alli - with the team playing an attacking style and forcing the opposition deeper.HOW WILL CHELSEA APPROACH THE GAME?
In August last year, reigning champions Chelsea regained momentum after a shock 3-2 defeat to Burnley on the opening day with a 2-1 win over Tottenham - compounding Spurs' so-called Wembley hoodoo, at the time.
In that game, Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso broke the deadlock with a first-half free-kick, after team-mate Alvaro Morata had missed a sitter from five yards, heading wide.
Spurs levelled in the second half through a Michy Batshuayi own goal after Kane had hit the post - but Alonso capitalised on a Victor Wanyama mistake to strike the match-winner under Hugo Lloris - who should have also done better.
Chelsea - who were missing Eden Hazard - set up in a 3-5-1-1, with David Luiz in midfield, while Spurs used a less familiar 4-3-2-1, deploying a defensive midfield trio of Eric Dier, Wanyama and Dembele - with the latter being Spurs' standout player.
As the graphic below shows, Chelsea played the majority of the game in their own half under Tottenham's pressure, which might happen again - if Spurs set up to attack and dominate possession.
The attacking stats suggest Spurs were unlucky to lose the game, with superior numbers for shots on target, crosses, touches in the opposite box, total shots, dribbles and chances created.
Tottenham also dominated the stats that reflect style of play, outperforming their rivals across the board for passing, while Chelsea were slightly more effective at winning aerials.
As was key during Chelsea's title-winning campaign, their solid defence proved to be instrumental in the victory at Wembley, making significantly more duels, blocks, tackles, interceptions and clearances - which was also a result of playing deeper with less possession.
Ultimately, Morata's missed chance was mitigated by Kane hitting the post and Spurs lost the game from a sloppy mistake.
SO HOW WILL TOTTENHAM COPE?
Son has scored twice in both of his last two league games - and will be more than capable to fill Kane's boots, as he did for two periods last season when Kane was sidelined.
In fact, Tottenham have had a slightly higher goals-per-game ratio in the nine games without Kane, while all attacking stats remain almost constant with or without the Englishman in the team.
Spurs with & without Kane, PL, per 90 mins, since 2016/17
|Stat||With Kane||Without Kane|
|Touches in the Opp Box||26.5||25.9|
|Passes Opp Half||330.1||323.6|
|Passes Own Half||220.4||218.1|
|Chances Created (inc. assists)||13.2||13.2|
|Shots, Total (inc. Blocks)||17.4||17.5|
|Shots, on Target||6.4||6.7|
If Son is deployed up top, Erik Lamela appears to be the most likely candidate to fill the vacant midfield role - having been summoned to replace Kane at Bournemouth - although Moussa Sissoko remains on the periphery of contention.
Spurs have used six systems in the Premier League this season - almost exclusively the 4-2-3-1 (17 times), 3-5-1-1 (five times) and 3-5-2 (four times).
While 3-4-2-1 is the system of choice at Chelsea, it's 4-2-3-1 at Tottenham. But both managers tweaked the system for their last encounter and Spurs may well look to dominate possession again by using the 4-3-2-1 for the first time since that game.
Tottenham could match Chelsea with a three-at-the-back formation, but Spurs' previous encounters against top sides suggest they achieve greater success with an attacking style - while Chelsea also retreat under pressure from top quality sides.
In addition, Chelsea have their own dilemma up top - with Morata failing to find consistent form after a bright start at Stamford Bridge and winter signing Olivier Giroud challenging for the starting place.
With Son in scintillating form - and Llorente and Moura for back-up - the vacant midfield position should be filled by Lamela or Sissoko, both staking claims for starting places beyond Kane's return.
Watch Chelsea v Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Sunday
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