Opinion: The statistics that reveal the truth behind Kane’s perceived decline

Image: SpursWeb

Imprudent comments are to be expected due to a steady decline from a statistical point of view, but is this solely down to Kane’s player regression?

Subsequent ankle injuries could mean Kane and Pochettino have acknowledged that he may need to be less robust and conserve energy. This, however, comes at a detriment to the pressing approach Poch built his name on.

A lot has been made of his goal tally in 2019 – the latest being his lack of open-play goals. He’s been outscored by the likes of Lacazette and Jimenez from open play in all club competitions in 2019, yet these same articles refuse to magnify just how devastating his injuries were.

Last season, he missed 91 days of football which equated to 17 games (3 months) without Kane (Transfermarkt).

In 2019, he’s played 23 times and scored 14. Remove the penalties and it’s nine goals in 23 which emphasises the effects of being rushed back twice from ankle ligament injuries finally catching up to Kane (Daily Mail).

Next up is his position shift for Spurs. It’s been widely noted that Kane no longer operates as the furthest forward in the Spurs attack on a consistent basis. He has been deployed off Son/Moura most games in a 4-3-1-2 shape since the start of last season.

This has not only left Spurs exposed defensively, but has turned one of the most prolific number nines into a support striker who now places equal focus on his contribution in build-up as well as scoring.

The so-called experts will choose to overlook this crucial change though when comparing numbers and Kane’s gameplay from his best season in 17/18 to now.

This means he’s not in the box as much, resulting in fewer chances directly per game. Despite this, he managed 24 in 40 club apps last year – 0.6 goals per game (Transfer Markt). To put this into perspective, Aubameyang managed 0.61 goals per game last year scoring 31 in 51 club games.

Now onto his conversion rate/shot accuracy. It’s no secret that Kane regularly outperforms his xG (expected goal) but ultimately, he requires consistent service.

Kane was the main beneficiary of our biggest creators in his highest-scoring season with xA’s (expected assists) as shown by Understat. At 11.89, 8.84, & 6.59 for Eriksen, Alli and Son respectively in the Premier League, all three posted their highest xA numbers that season.

Apply the same searches with 18/19 in mind and the numbers are alarming. Eriksen, Alli & Son managed 7.88, 3.29 & 3.97 – either their 2nd worst/worst expected assist numbers since joining Spurs (Understat).

Let’s not forget full-backs too. Davies and Trippier actual PL assist numbers went from six and five respectively in 17/18 to 0 and 3 in 18/19. When a striker’s service dwindles in addition to a deeper role, how do people expect his numbers not to dip?

Kane’s slump is indicative of the team’s decline in 2019. He needs to get back to his razor-sharp best physically, despite hitting 7 goals in 10 club apps so far (Transfer Markt).

The team also need to follow suit, as too many are underperforming/declining. Pochettino must also reinstate him as the focal point of the attack. It’s more than just a Kane problem.

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