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Harry Kane says midfield goals have boosted Tottenham’s title hopes

Tottenham's Harry Kane misses a penalty

Harry Kane believes Tottenham Hotspur have turned a corner, partly because the team’s attacking midfielders have been contributing more heavily in front of goal.

The striker scored his 10th goal of the season in the 4-1 win at Southampton on Wednesday night, glancing home from a corner on 52 minutes after he had seen little of the ball in the first half. The goal highlighted Kane’s predatory instincts, although he subsequently blazed a penalty over the crossbar.

The team’s collective performance was up there with their best of the season and was defined by excellent displays from Dele Alli, who scored twice, and Christian Eriksen, who has hit a rich vein of form. Eriksen was granted the No10 role at the outset of the game by Mauricio Pochettino, a move that seemed to recognise the central role he has played in recent games.

Alli started off the left, although he swapped into the middle at the beginning of the second half, and he got into dangerous areas throughout, as he took his season’s goal tally to seven in all competitions. Eriksen has seven, as well, and so has Son Heung-min, who came on as a substitute to score Tottenham’s third.

Pochettino’s team have won five of their last six matches in all competitions and they will travel to Watford on New Year’s Day in optimistic mood, before turning their attention to the visit of Chelsea on Wednesday – which has the feel of a season-defining game for them.

Kane has come to shoulder a goalscoring burden. When he scored 28 in all competitions last season – 25 of them in the Premier League – the club’s next best scorer was Erik Lamela, with 11 in all competitions. For a team with title-winning aspirations, it is clear that greater productivity is needed from the players in the line behind Kane, and so far this season the numbers have come to look more encouraging.

“It is a great boost for confidence in a squad when there is not just one or two players scoring goals but the whole team is contributing,” Kane said. “That is what we have at the moment. We have been scoring a lot of goals recently, we feel confident and to score four at Southampton is a good achievement.”

Southampton had previously conceded only five league goals at home all season and Tottenham’s victory, which came from a goal down and a sticky first 15 minutes or so, has set them up to launch the same kind of run they enjoyed at around this time last season.

Back then a sequence of nine wins and a draw in 11 league fixtures – which began with a 2-0 victory at Southampton – lifted them into title contention. It was the manner of the win at St Mary’s, though, which was as important. Tottenham played like the team that won so many admirers last season.

They lag 10 points behind the leaders, Chelsea, but know that they can eat into that margin with a home victory over Antonio Conte’s side. Nobody at the club wants to look beyond the Watford game but the derby against Chelsea promises a tantalising opportunity.

Kane maintained that Tottenham’s positive performance in the first half at Chelsea on 26 November, in a 2-1 defeat, “shows that we are definitely capable of beating them,” but what is clear is that they no longer have any margin for error.

“We can’t have too many off-days,” Kane said. “We have put together a good run and we need to keep winning. Chelsea have won 12 in a row and hopefully we can put that run to a stop. But it is hard to focus on other teams. We know what we have to do.

“We are focused on Watford, getting another win there, and then it’s a big game against Chelsea. We don’t want to fall too far behind them. We’ll need to use our atmosphere at home. We’ve been very good at home this season. Would our title challenge be over if we dropped points? I can see why people might think that. But we are here to try to stop that from happening.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner, for The Guardian on Thursday 29th December 2016 22.30 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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