We’re coming for you
Kane’s double keeps Spurs in touch with leaders Leicester
From Alli to Harry. It is a combination that has produced more Premier League goals this season than any other; the partnership that will surely form the basis of England’s Euro 2016 challenge and the marriage which sealed this match.
Dele Alli and Harry Kane are also the two players upon which Tottenham Hotspur’s growing hopes of a first league title since 1961 most obviously rest. Only 16 minutes had elapsed when Alli’s clinical pass released Kane to end this game as a meaningful contest but their understanding will surely guarantee that Tottenham’s title challenge is rather more lasting.
“Leicester City, we’re coming for you,” sung the Tottenham fans and, while the gap between the top two clubs remains unchanged, this was a far more convincing performance than Leicester had produced 24 hours earlier at Crystal Palace.
Bournemouth, remember, had come into the game following three straight wins and with the best Premier League record since December of any club bar Leicester and Spurs. Yet they were simply overwhelmed by a Tottenham team that were utterly inspired by Kane. His 20th and 21st league goals make him only the fifth Englishman of the Premier League era to score more than 20 in consecutive seasons and, ahead of Saturday’s match against world champions Germany, must underline his status above Wayne Rooney as Roy Hodgson’s first-choice striker.
Alli’s place in the starting England team should be similarly secure, with him personally responsible now for creating seven of Kane’s league goals.
After such an emphatic performance, there was also a bullish tone to Mauricio Pochettino’s post-match assessment. Not only did he de- scribe Kane as the best striker in the league and the team performance as arguably the most complete of the season but noted how, with the club out of every other competition, he can now transform their preparation. Regular double training sessions are back.
“We go into a different period now,” said Pochettino. “We’ll play one game every week, and we’ll have time to prepare games differently, to train, to improve and do a lot of things that were impossible before. It should allow us to do double sessions once or twice a week. We are in a moment where we need to see our future in a very good way.”
Kane, who is now the Premier League’s leading goalscorer, is also certain that Spurs can overhaul Leicester. “Of course,” he said. “Why not? We’re very confident. There is no panic, no rush.”
Having partially sacrificed the Europa League with his team selection against Borussia Dortmund, Pochettino had brought back four fully rested players here in Kane, Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and Kyle Walker. The injection of energy was immediately evident when, having ran onto a Hugo Lloris clearance, Walker surged forward from his full-back position. His cross was then perfectly aimed along the six-yard box, with Kane again underlining his improved pace by sprinting in front of Simon Francis to deftly guide his finish across Artur Boruc and into the goal.
Spurs were playing at a tempo that was simply suffocating their opponents, with the work-rate and pressing of Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Erik Lamela making it almost impossible for Bournemouth to disturb midfielders Eric Dier or Dembele, let alone a back four that has conceded fewer Premier League goals than any other.
It still took a moment of high quality, however, to create the second. Bournemouth had been wasteful in possession and allowed Alli sufficient space to roll a perfectly weighted pass for Kane, who once again demonstrated his speed and sharpness by darting beyond Francis, before finishing emphatically past Boruc with his left foot. Bournemouth’s first-half chances had been scarce, with Eddie Howe responding by bringing on Lewis Grabban and Eunan O’Kane for Benik Afobe and Harry Arter. His team did then have greater energy and played more of the second half in Tottenham territory albeit without seriously threatening Lloris’s goal.
Spurs, by contrast, were a danger just about every time they broke forward, especially whenever Kane was in possession. His powerful shot from outside the penalty area then could not be held by Boruc, with Eriksen following in to put an added – and deserved – gloss on the result. Spurs now have both the best attacking and defensive records in the Premier League but the statistic that counts above all else is that the deficit to Leicester still stands at five points with only seven matches remaining.
The fox hunt is on.
Slide rule: Harry Kane stretches to score the first of his two goals during a Tottenham win that sees them stay hot on the heels of Leicester City