Tottenham Hotspur has experienced an exponential rise in reputation and credibility over the past few years. By over the past few years, I’m referring back to when Mauricio Pochettino was hired in 2014. It is hard to dispute their rapid ascent in quality and ability to compete with top European clubs.
As well as fielding world class international talents Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-Min, and Érik Lamela, Spurs have risen in the eyes of England natives for producing a sizable core of the England National Team. Striker Harry Kane won the World Cup Golden Boot with six goals in seven games, while his four club teammates contributed big moments for the Three Lions.
Heroic Shots and Those Damn Socks!
Eric Dier scored the penalty to rid England of its World Cup shootout curse. Dele Alli sealed a 2-0 win over Sweden to clinch England’s first semi-final since 1990. Kieran Trippier gave fans the closest feeling to football truly coming home with a spectacular free kick goal five minutes into the semi-final against Croatia. Danny Rose got the soccer world talking about players cutting holes in their socks.
All jokes aside, Tottenham’s starting lineup rivals most in Europe and could follow it up on the field. However, Spurs have gone through plenty of signings for the spots on the bench and ultimately the inconsistencies in depth have cost the team tangible success. The steep rise has begun to steady out in the past year and a half. Unfortunately, the immediate future poses even more challenges.
Loss of Kane & Son
Even though Tottenham are poised to be title contenders, their top two goal scorers Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min will be absent for a slate of important games. In the worst-case scenario, Son will be gone until February 1, which is slated to be the final of the Asia Cup which the Korean forward has been called up for. He will miss league games against Fulham, Watford and Crystal Palace and the second leg of the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.
Kane, on the other hand, will be gone for some crucial matchups. The English talisman will miss the aforementioned games, as well as the Carabao Cup final, derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea and BOTH legs of the Champions League round of 16 draw against Borussia Dortmund.This is far from an ideal time for such an important player to be out. Even though this may seem like Tottenham’s regularly scheduled hiccup, this situation may be exactly what Spurs need to finally break into the conversation of best teams in Europe.
Can They Do It?
Tottenham have had some issues with depth over the years which has restricted the team from reaching its max potential. Succeeding through this period without the joint top scorer of the Premier League would prove to England and Europe that Tottenham deserve its spot at the table.
If there is any year for the North London side to prove its worth in depth, it’s 2018/19. Consistent subs Juan Foyth, Fernando Llorente and Kyle Walker-Peters have all fit seamlessly into Pochettino’s system this season. Lucas Moura, who is third in the team with six goals in the league this season, featured regularly on the bench before earning more regular st
Llorente will be the main focus however, as the Spaniard will be the direct replacement of Kane. The forward showed signs of his Swansea 2016/17 form by netting a hat-trick in Tottenham’s 7-0 FA Cup win over Tranmere Rovers. Opportunities have come few and far between for the Athletic Bilbao product, so Llorente has all the more reason to take this opportunity for what it’s worth.
Big Shoes to Fill
The shoes to fill are quite daunting nonetheless. Kane and Son have combined for 22 Premier League goals so far from a combined 18.31 expected goals. Meanwhile, Llorente has boasted a tally of four goals in 11 games in all competitions. His nine goals in 41 games for the club doesn’t exactly scream Harry Kane replacement, the Spanish international has scored over ten goals in eight of the 12 seasons in which he has played at least 30 games. In other words, when Llorente is given ample opportunity, he will provide a steady source of goals.
To say that this situation is completely advantageous for Tottenham is would be a lie. Having peak performance from the complete starting squad is the goal for every club in the world and is no different for Spurs. But not everyone is healthy right now, and for Tottenham this is just as much an opportunity as it is a speed bump.
The possibility of winning a trophy by Kane’s return is high, and doing so will alleviate immense pressure on the shoulders of both Pochettino and the team. Of course, if the success even dares to ramp up even more with Kane gone, there may be rumblings of how much he is needed. That’s a discussion for another day.