Goals from Eriksen and Alli were enough to down Southampton in Week 29 with Kane sidelined with an injured ankle.
Second-placed Spurs kept up their unbeaten home record in the league in Week 29 with a 2-1 win over Southampton despite the absence of their main man up front. Despite Harry Kane’s absence due to an ankle injury, and despite second half defensive lapses that presented a bit of a scare for Pochettino, Tottenham eventually came away with their fortress at White Hart Lane quite intact. Eriksen scored the first with a nice shot from 20-yards out that caught out the Saints’ defence. And Dele Alli coolly converted a penalty to double their lead before halftime.
For the time being at least, there appear to be no signs of an impending stumble – or even a total crumbling like last season’s end. Catching up to Chelsea may be more hope than possibility, but Spurs at least appear firm favourites to take second. And at the very least finish above bitter rivals Arsenal whose amazing decline recently has them presently languishing in sixth.
Spurs are still the only Premier League side unbeaten at home this season:
Clean sheets: 9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 19, 2017
With only ten games to go in the league, losing Kane now would normally be cause for anxiety. However, Tottenham aren’t in the sort of nerve-fraying high-stakes chase like last season’s. And Pochettino has clearly found some very able deputies even in the 23-year old’s absence. There appears no real danger of a repeat of last year’s unravelling.
Trio of Alli, Eriksen and Son provide enough assurance in Kane’s absence and despite Janssen still struggling
On the face of it, the absence of Harry Kane does seem to leave a major hole up-front for Spurs. Kane is behind only Lukaku in the league’s goalscoring charts for the season. And he has the best goals-to-minutes ratio of any of the top ten. It’s hard to replace that sort of a goal threat. And Pochettino only has the struggling Vincent Janssen on the bench as a like-for-like substitute.
However, Tottenham’s aggressive, high-pressing game means that the side essentially has the ability to score from anywhere across the frontline. For perspective, the trio of Son, Alli and Eriksen have managed to net over 40 goals this season between them. That’s a sizeable chunk for any team from players who are essentially midfielders.
Alli’s new advanced role this season has translated into lesser involvement in build-up play or even assists. But the 20-year old’s constant presence in the opposition’s box has catapulted him up the goalscoring charts. Alli is currently in 6th with an astonishing 14-goal haul thus far in the league. Son is a slightly different player in that he usually drifts in from the wings. But the South Korean’s energy, vision and clean finishing nets him a good number of goals, too. As for Eriksen, while he’s nowhere near as prolific as the other two, the Dane is essential to Spurs’ attack with his intelligent movement and brilliant passing in the final third.
Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen & Hueng-Min Son have scored 41 goals this season combined in all, not bad for a side who rely on Harry Kane. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/U3NQVNTioN
— Ricky Sacks (@RickSpur) March 19, 2017
Pochettino may wish for a quality out-and-out striker to share Kane’s burden going forward. But he sure has options galore to at least tide him over for the moment.
Pochettino glad to have the versatility of Alli in times like these
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on his players stepping up in Kane’s absence:
“You will always miss your main striker but it was important to win the game, score goals and keep our position in the table.
“It’s good to have players on the pitch who want to take responsibility to take the penalty. With no Harry Kane, everyone can take the penalty.
“Sonny did well. He had some chances to score. His movement was great and he connected with Dele and Christian. I’m very pleased with his performance.”
On Alli’s all-action style on the pitch:
“Dele always surprises you and you can’t guess him. He has an unbelievable personality and everything’s possible with him. It’s difficult to sum him up because he likes to run into the box. In the box he looks like a striker because he’s very smart and outside the box he plays like a midfielder.”
Dele Alli's game by numbers vs. Southampton:
100% shot accuracy
2 aerial duels won
1 chance created
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 19, 2017
The Argentine also reminisced about the time he first saw Alli as he played for MK Dons in their famous 4-0 win over Man United in August 2014:
“I watched him when he was 18 years old at Milton Keynes as a holding midfielder against Manchester United. He always surprises me. Maybe one day he plays as a goalkeeper, full-back or centre back.
“Dele Alli can always surprise you. He has an unbelievable personality and character. Anything is possible for him.”