Harry Kane stormed his way past Alan Shearer’s record for Premier League goals in a calendar year on Tuesday, notching a hat trick in Spurs’ 5-1 demolition of Southampton. Dele Alli and Son Heung-min also got in on the scoring shenanigans as Pochettino’s men gained 3 more valuable points in the hunt for Champions League football next season.
Kane the headline in a great team performance
Much of the pre-game narrative centered on Harry Kane’s efforts to overtake Alan Shearer’s record for Premier League goals in a calendar year (36). It didn’t take the lad long to go about his work, notching a close-range header off an Eriksen free kick on 22 minutes. That strike moved him past Shearer, and he soon got the chance to go even further ahead. Brilliant build-up from Dele and Son afforded the Kane a tap-in on 39′, and he duly obliged. His second of the day saw him smash another record; Lionel Messi’s 2017 tally in all comps (54). By the time the match was over, he’d completed his hat trick with a deft chip over the keeper after being played through by Dele. Frankly, there aren’t enough words to quantify his efficiency in front of goal or the impact he has on this team when he’s in form.
That said, though Kane and the story line surrounding his impressive year were the dominant topic of match-day discussion, his teammates’ collective performance raised plenty of eyebrows as well. Dele had his best game of the last month or so, linking play well with the front line and directly setting up two goals. Son was his usual energetic self and nabbed a well-taken goal for his troubles. Eriksen, despite not finding his way to the score-sheet, was excellent throughout and played some gorgeous one-twos with Kane in particular. Eric Dier and Danny Rose both had great games, and both Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko looked sharp after coming on as second half-substitutes. In short, it was maybe the best team attacking display this Spurs side has put together all season, a promising sign for Pochettino moving forward.
Lloris’ struggles continue
It wasn’t all rosy-colored for Spurs on Tuesday, however, as their captain continued his somewhat shaky form in goal. While the Frenchman wasn’t plagued by the same distribution issues that exposed him against City a few matches ago, his handling wasn’t the greatest this time out and he was likely responsible for both goals Spurs conceded. The first was a near-post strike he probably should’ve managed to push around the post, and the second a messy attempt at over-compensating for a poor corner clearance.
Outside of those two incidents, Spurs were rarely troubled by their visitors from the south coast. But Lloris has to clean up his form if Spurs are to keep charging up the table, especially given the difficult fixture list 2018 has in store. If you look at the other top teams in the league—City, United, Chelsea—their goalkeepers aren’t making costly mistakes every other game. There is an inherent risk to playing a sweeper keeper style, sure, but Lloris’s biggest problems are the basic things a keeper should handle. Clearances and near-post saves simply shouldn’t be an issue for an elite goalkeeper on a consistent basis.
Spurs end 2017 on a (relative) high
The win against Southampton has Spurs right in the mixer for the Champions League spots with Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Their 37 points from 20 matches is only 5 points off where they were at this stage last season, a positive sign given they’ve not been in their best form until very recently. Factor in key injuries like that of Toby Alderweireld, and that points tally looks quite respectable, actually. Poch’s squad also has the good fortune of being able to start 2018 on a pretty easy fixture, traveling to bottom club Swansea on January 2nd.
It’s a shame (from a Tottenham perspective) that City have been so untouchable in the league this season, as the mid-way point has typically been where Spurs hit their stride. As long as they secure a Champions League place, though, I won’t be too bothered. Top-level football is the bare minimum we need to offer in order to keep players like Kane; a critical requirement given how prolific he and other high profile teammates can be.