Wednesday 20 November 2019 1:12 pm

Jose Mourinho must improve Tottenham's attack and arrest Harry Kane's waning club form

Jose Mourinho arrives at Tottenham with a to-do list that includes arresting a year-long slump that threatens the club’s status as Champions League regulars and rehabilitating his own weathered reputation.

But chief among the former Manchester United and Chelsea manager’s priorities in North London should be reinvigorating an attack whose threat has dissipated to the point that it is even affecting the dependable Harry Kane.

There have been reminders of the 26-year-old’s clinical finishing this campaign, not least in his four goals for England against Montenegro and Kosovo over the last few days.

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One of Kane’s sharpest finishes this term was his deft header past Alisson at Anfield last month, having reacted quickest to a Son Heung-Min effort rebounding off the crossbar.

But that was one of just five goals he has scored from open play in 12 Premier League games this season – and he has not scored for Tottenham since. Three of his 10 club goals have come from the penalty spot too.

Waning Kane?

There were signs of his club form waning last season too, as he failed to reach the 20-goal mark in the league for the first time since establishing himself in the Tottenham first team in 2014-15.

He scored 17 goals, five behind Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who all shared the Golden Boot, and was some way off his 30 and 29 goals in the previous campaigns.

Harry Kane
Harry Kane has scored just five goals from open play in 12 Premier League appearances this season (Getty images)

The England striker’s Premier League tally of six goals and one assist this campaign puts him 10th in the scoring charts, five goals behind leader Jamie Vardy.

But are Kane’s shooting boots losing their potency or is his failure to recapture the form of old a result of a reduced creative output from his team-mates and the wider decline of the club?

Worst spell under Pochettino

The sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday raised eyebrows, but statistically Spurs are having their worst season in front of goal since the Argentinian was appointed in 2014.

Tottenham have created just 13 “big chances” this campaign, defined by the Premier League as an opportunity in which the player would be reasonably expected to score.

It means Spurs are averaging just 1.1 big chance per game, some way down on last year’s 1.7 and almost half of the 2.0 big chances per game they were creating in 2017-18.

Son Heung-Min
Son Heung-Min has been one of Tottenham’s better players this season (Getty images)

Unsurprisingly then, their output of 1.5 goals per game is also their worst and has gradually declined since a peak of 2.26 in 2016-17.

The team’s average number of shots and shots on target is also the worst of the Pochettino era at 12.5 and 4.1 respectively – again, gradually decreasing from a peak of 17.6 and 6.8 in 2016-17, the year that Leicester won the league.

Criticism of Tottenham has often centred on the squad’s lack of depth and, specifically, players who can share Kane’s goal burden should he suffer from injury or hit a bad patch of form.

This season he is not firing at his usual rate, but Tottenham’s problems appear to be rooted more deeply in a shortage of opportunities created for all of the forwards.

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Kane has in fact missed only one “big chance” in the league this season, some way off the nine and seven missed by England team-mates Tammy Abraham and Raheem Sterling respectively.

Son is the only Tottenham player to have registered more than one assist this campaign and is arguably the only Spurs player performing at something like their best level.

If Mourinho is to turn his new club’s fortunes around – and give his own career a shot in the arm – then creating more chances for their star striker to put away would appear a good place to start.

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