Article by Bennett Hogendorn – Twitter: @BHogendorn
In February of 2011, during a League One match between Leyton Orient and Huddersfield Town, a seventeen-year old Harry Kane found the net to help the O’s to a 2-2 draw. Over six years removed, Huddersfield Town had the task of stopping Kane once again, only this time on the back of consecutive gold boot winning campaigns. The striker’s immense transformation is incomprehensible since his days on loan, and he gave the Terries’ defense the biggest challenge of their inaugural Premier League season thus far. Huddersfield, who had the fourth lowest budget in the Championship last year, have been promoted twice since they last played Kane and sat only two points behind Spurs going into the day. The only player in Tottenham’s squad with any experience against the Terries, Harry Kane gave the Premier League new boys a dose of reality with a first half brace in a convincing 4-0 win. It pushes Tottenham into third place going into the international break, and makes it six consecutive away match victories.
After another buzzing performance, it is becoming harder and harder to refute the status of world class for Tottenham’s number ten. The fruits of his labors are beginning to show in some staggering statistical milestones. Kane’s hat trick midweek in the Champions League against APOEL, and a brace at the John Smith’s Stadium makes it seven goals in the last seven days. His 27 Premier League goals in this calendar year, puts him within reaching distance of Alan Shearer’s record 36 Premier League goals in the same span of time. In addition, Kane now has 13 goals in the month of September, matching the record for goals in a single month with Cristiano Ronaldo (October 2010) and Lionel Messi (March 2012).
Harry Kane’s exquisite form may be hard to put into perspective, but his Tottenham goal count (110) now matches the total of the great Glen Hoddle. In addition, Kane’s brace puts him level with Cristiano Ronaldo’s career Premier League goal tally, (84) but the English international has done it in 73 fewer matches. It’s hard to come up with superlatives that haven’t already been said about Kane. At times he seems to lack any real weakness in his game, and his influence makes those around him better. For the fourth season wonder, this rich vein of form goes beyond form, and he is proving to be among the world’s elite strikers.
Another stand out performer was Harry Winks who was in place of the injured Mousa Dembele. The U-21 England international is coming off an injury of his own, and is finally beginning to harness some of his lost confidence and form. Putting in a commanding performance midweek in the Champions League, Winks beat out Moussa Sissoko for the starting eleven at the weekend. A noticeably more physical Winks, was able to find channels to express himself alongside the steady Eric Dier. Efficient and tidy, Winks used these channels to push forward and spray balls out wide to help Spurs control the tempo. His ability to turn on the ball is reminiscent of young Scott Parker, and Winks is continuing to add tools to his game when moving forward. Dembele and Victor Wanyama both remain injured and their return dates are undecided. They could both still be unfit after this coming international break, allowing Harry Winks more opportunities to flourish in a highly in his preferred box-to-box midfielder role. His success can justify the boards’ decision to not sign another center midfielder in the past transfer window. There were many names thrown around late in the window with the likes of Andre Gomes, Pape Cheikh Diop, and Adrien Silva all linked to Spurs, but the continued growth of Winks could calm the nerves of supporters and add some much needed depth to the position. Mousa Dembele’s minutes are now carefully managed as his years of playing full ninety-minute matches may be behind him. Harry Winks himself has said how he models his game after the Belgian, and it showed in his growth last season. This year could be the year that Winks fulfills that potential and becomes the latest Tottenham academy product to break through into the starting eleven.
Speaking of growth, has there been anyone who has made as big of strides this campaign as Ben Davies? He put in another stellar performance against Huddersfield, providing a goal and an assist. Davies has really grown into the left wing back role, a position that he struggled at times with last year. The preferred choice, Danny Rose, seemed a more natural fit as an advanced full back, using his athleticism and pace to exploit opposing teams. If Rose hadn’t got hurt, who knows if and when Davies would have gotten his chance to grow, but credit is rightfully owed to the Welsh international. After starting in more Premier League matches then Rose last year, Davies has been able to build on that experience this campaign. What he lacks in athletic ability compared to Rose, he makes up for in smart, error free stability. He’s grown more comfortable going forward, providing much need width and his service has become more consistent. He has even become the preferred corner taker in the last month. Danny Rose may have some restless nights ahead of him, as he will face hard competition to break back into the starting eleven. Rose will most likely still regain his starting position, but the improvement of the constantly professional Ben Davies, should not go unnoticed.
Also worthy of notice, Davinson Sanchez continues to impress in the heart of defense. Tottenham’s record signing was physically imposing once again, and distributed the ball effectively. David Wagner’s Huddersfield implemented a high press in the early stages of the match to try and close gaps and suffocate Tottenham’s center backs. A converted midfielder, Sanchez looked composed on the ball, showing a technical ability to maneuver his way out of traffic; something we have not yet seen from him. Pochettino can feel assured in his decision to immediately throw the Colombian defender into the starting eleven, as he has responded brilliantly. Sanchez’s smooth transition also allows Eric Dier to operate as a holding midfielder instead of a center back. Dier appears to be better suited for the holding midfield role, as he looked dynamic next to the aforementioned Harry Winks.
Finally, Moussa Sissoko deserves some recognition for scoring his first goal for Spurs in stoppage time. It’s been long documented Sissoko’s inflated transfer fee, apathetic attitude, and passive performances since his record move from Newcastle. Many people, including myself felt he might never find his footing in North London. But, Mauricio Pochettino has seen enough in the Frenchmen to continue to keep him involved, and Sissoko has started to gain the trust of the Tottenham faithful. By no means have his performances been of elite quality, but his role deeper in the park is giving Sissoko some identity in the squad. His performances have been encouraging enough to warrant some praise, and he even seems to be showing some more emotion with the reunion of his old Toulouse teammate, Serge Aurier. We may have this year’s Son-Wimmer bromance in the making.
With Chelsea losing at home to Manchester City, Tottenham now sit alone at 3rd place in the Premier League going into the international break. After the break, Spurs will have another chance to break the Wembley voodoo against struggling Bournemouth. The remaining fixture list next month is daunting with Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Manchester United waiting. The assurance in the squad’s depth with this week’s performances couldn’t come at a better time, as all hands will be on deck for what could prove to be a crucial month in Tottenham’s season.