If there is one thing you can almost set your watch to, it is a post-Christmas injury to Harry Kane and although the latest update on the Tottenham forward’s ankle injury is positive, his absence has hurt Spurs at the worst possible time.
When the 27-year-old falls to the ground, Spurs supporters break out in a cold sweat and, with Kane wincing on numerous occasions against Liverpool, another spell on the sidelines was soon confirmed by manager Jose Mourinho.
It’s the last thing that the North London outfit need at any time, with Kane now becoming the ultimate forward, let alone during a period when they are already struggling. When you consider that Tottenham’s table topping exploits are now just a distant memory, another talismanic absence has further derailed their season.
In seasons past, any negative Harry Kane injury update would have been a bitter pill for all to swallow, if only because both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho had nothing in the way of direct replacement. However, this season things should have been different.
The loan signing of Carlos Vinicius from Benfica was supposed to be the backup that many had been clamouring for. The Brazilian was expected to be used in cup competitions but his primary remit was to replace Kane should the worst happen.
However, when Kane was forced off against Liverpool it was Erik Lamela who was given the nod at the interval by Tottenham’s boss. Many, including Vinicius himself, would have been asking why?
On the evidence of Lamela’s second half appearance, it is fair to say that Mourinho got it wrong. As Tottenham limped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Liverpool, a change of tact would certainly be needed for the trip to Brighton just three days later.
Heung-min Son was once again trusted with a more central role, the usual update to his position whenever Harry Kane suffers an injury, with Gareth Bale deployed out wide and still no start for the unfancied Vinicius.
When Bale returned to Tottenham on a loan deal last summer, he was meant to be the missing link of Spurs’ front three. His talents were set to shoot Spurs up the table. However, it simply hasn’t been the case and the overriding conclusion from his performance and body language against Brighton is that the Welsh international’s days as a genuine star are all but done.
Both he and Vinicius have fallen into the same vicious circle, one where they cannot get the Premier League minutes they crave because of a lack of trus yet they cannot earm the trust because of a lack of minutes.
Earlier in the campaign, when Tottenham were anti-footballing their way to the top of the table, a case could be made for not starting Bale in the forward line, as he perhaps did not fit into the required system for such big clashes. Spurs earned seven points from the nine on offer against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal and, on that evidence, you would have to say that the means were justified. Steven Bergwijn’s ability to track back played a big part in he and his teammates keeping three clean sheets.
The one-note performances that coincided with Tottenham’s lack of form, were almost crying out for a change in attacking personnel and perhaps even change of shape. However, the previous status quo remained up top and an ineffective Bergwijn kept his place in team.
The knock-on effect of this, is that the options which Spurs ignored earlier in the campaign, are inevitably struggling to shine upon being thrust into the limelight. Any hope of them hitting the ground running is wishful thinking and their performances have fallen short of the mark.
Ultimately, Tottenham are now back to their usual mid-season conundrums. Although the latest injury update on Harry Kane is looking like day or weeks rather than months, the damage has already been done.
Tottenham’s season is still salvageable, as progress in three cup competitions will attest to, its just now whether collecting any silverware acts as catalyst for greater times or simply papers over the cracks after another difficult year.
You could earn up to £100 (or currency equivalent) in bonus funds by joining Colossus with our New Player Bonus. Click here to join the action.