Relief was the overriding feeling for Tottenham Hotspur and manager José Mourinho after the recent 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. The victory brought an end to a run of three successive defeats at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion, Liverpool and Chelsea, and meant that supporters of the north London club could begin to look upwards in the Premier League table, rather than worrying about sliding down into its middle reaches.
At one point, Tottenham had looked like real favourites in the title race for those betting on the English Premier League, but over the last couple of months the team have struggled for consistency, and wins have been hard to come by. For some of that time, Spurs were without star striker Harry Kane due to injury, and when the England captain is not in the team, they look toothless in attack, with few like-for-like replacements in the squad.
The game against West Brom proved just how valuable Kane is to Tottenham, not just in terms of scoring goals, but in terms of making intelligent runs and bringing other attacking players into play. Kane’s footballing intelligence has become more and more refined as he has got older, and he is now Tottenham’s creative heartbeat as well as a ruthless finisher in front of goal.
He opened the scoring against West Brom with a fine finish after just drifting away from his marker. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s pinpoint pass picked him out, and Kane slid the ball past Sam Johnstone with considerable aplomb – relieving the pressure on the team and José Mourinho.
It had taken Kane until the second half to find his scoring boots. He had been presented with a couple of golden chances in the first half, but missed the target on both occasions. While that demonstrated a bit of rust after his injury, the mere fact that Spurs were creating chances again after a run of three dour attacking displays demonstrated Kane’s importance in terms of making things happen in forward areas.
Having such a prized asset is, of course, a good thing for Tottenham, but the extent to which they rely on the form of Kane and Heung-Min Son will be a worry for their supporters. As we saw last season, injuries are never far away, and when the Englishman and the South Korean are both missing from Spurs’ starting line-up, things have a habit of going wrong.
The signings of players like Steven Bergwijn and Gareth Bale over the last year or so were supposed to give Spurs a bit more firepower in those areas and reduce the pressure on Kane and Son to deliver the goals, but neither has become a reliable goalscorer. In Bale’s case, minutes on the pitch have been hard to come by, and he has struggled to make his Tottenham return into the fairytale story many were hoping for.
Son followed Kane by scoring Spurs’ second against West Brom, and in the end it was a comfortable 2-0 win. And while the three points came as a great relief for players, coaches and supporters alike, question marks still remain over the depth of attacking talent at Tottenham’s disposal. For all that Kane and Son are two of the league’s best players, and will produce plenty of magic moments between them, Tottenham’s supporting cast need to start chipping in as well if the team is to enjoy sustained success under Mourinho.