What’s wrong with Harry Kane?

Despite breaking his ‘August hoodoo’ and scoring twice in four games in the Premier League this season, Harry Kane’s performance levels haven’t passed the ‘eye test’ for many Spurs fans.

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In Jermaine Jenas’ post match analysis of Tottenham’s defeat against Watford, he references a visible drop in Kane’s attacking output: Despite scoring six goals and winning the Golden Boot, I was not 100% happy with Kane’s performances at the World Cup. In many of the games, it was not the Harry Kane I know.

An opinion that most Tottenham fans would agree with, we look at Kane’s underlying stats to identify what’s changed in his play style and what might just be wrong.

Aside from the obvious measurement of goals scored, a suitable measure of an attackers’ potency is attempts at goal. Across the three previous seasons, Harry Kane had averaged 4.3 attempts at goal per game. This season, Kane has averaged just 2.5 attempts at goal per game in the opening four league matches. Jenas’ point that the World Cup golden boot winner is not striking shots from long range anymore is completely supported by the stats, with Kane yet to register an attempt from outside the box this season having peaked at 1.7 out of box attempts per game in the league last season.

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Can tiredness be attributed to an overall decrease in attempts at goal? Absolutely. Can tiredness be attributed to a huge decrease in attempts from outside the box? We’re not so sure. However, an argument can be made that Lucas Moura’s deployment as an inside forward alongside Kane has resulted in an increased requirement on Kane to create chances for the Brazilian, which as a result may be limiting his persuasion to get an early shot off.

Supporting this argument are Kane’s passing and chance creation stats. His overall passes attempted per game are up from 17.8 last season, to 20.8 in this campaign; he’s also creating more chances, up from 0.9 per game last season to 1.3 this season.

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Statistics that, at a simplified level, could be used to measure a players work-rate, also suggest that Harry Kane isn’t struggling as a result of limited post-World Cup rest. He’s attempting more tackles (1.3) and dribbles (3) per game than in any other season in his career, indicating that there isn’t a decline in overall work rate from Kane.

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So, whilst Tottenham’s number 10 appears to be visibly tired and is clearly seeing a drop in attacking output, the statistics appear to suggest that his decline may have come as a result of in a change in play style to accommodate Lucas Moura’s new role in the Spurs eleven. Though, a more sensible conclusion may just be that the striker is off to a characteristically slow start.

Let us know your thoughts below.