Pep Guardiola has got very little wrong in the last two years, although a rare slip of the tongue came in September 2017 when he referred to Tottenham as “the Harry Kane team”. While the Manchester City manager would later attempt to clarify his remark as a compliment to the England captain rather than a disparagement of the Spurs squad, there was certainly a message that Mauricio Pochettino was hugely reliant on his star striker.
This season, however, Spurs have not missed Kane nearly as much as they feared when the 25-year-old was twice ruled out for six weeks with injury. Indeed, the last three matches in their progression to Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool were overcome without Kane in the line-up, with Lucas Moura stepping up in heroic fashion with a second half hat-trick to devastate Ajax in the semi-finals.
Kane has declared himself fit and ready for action ahead of Saturday’s showdown in Madrid and our statistical analysis assesses Tottenham’s results this season with their number 10 in the side versus those when he was not involved.
Harry Kane in the Premier League
Tottenham finished fourth in the league having been deprived of Kane’s services for 10 matches during his two injured spells. His one appearance as a substitute came 76 minutes into the 2-0 win at Leicester in December when Spurs already had their two-goal cushion, hence the inclusion of that result in the ‘without Kane’ figures above.
Interestingly, Spurs’ points average and win percentage was higher in the games that Kane missed, while they also lost and conceded more frequently on average in the 27 matches that he started versus the 11 where he wasn’t in the starting XI. However, it was notable that he missed the final six Premier League games of the season and Spurs lost three of those, with their Champions League qualification for next term not confirmed until the penultimate weekend.
Kane started both games against Liverpool this season but did not score in either of them, with Erik Lamela and Moura claiming Spurs’ goals in the respective 2-1 defeats. However, he did find the net in several games against fellow top six sides in 2018/19, scoring in both instalments of the North London derby as well as in the wins over Manchester United and Chelsea.
Harry Kane in the Champions League
Kane was ever-present for Tottenham in the group stage when they crept into the last 16 after their draw in Barcelona was coupled with Internazionale failing to beat PSV Eindhoven at the San Siro. Of the six games in the knockout stages, though, his only appearances were in the 1-0 victory in Dortmund and the first 57 minutes of the 1-0 quarter-final first leg win over Manchester City. It was in that game that he picked up the ankle injury which has ruled him out of action ever since, and with Son Heung-min’s goal coming after Kane had left the field, it has been classified here as a result achieved without the England talisman.
Notably, Kane missed both the dramatic quarter-final second leg in which Tottenham edged Manchester City on away goals and the even more extraordinary 3-2 win away to Ajax which sealed Spurs’ passage to a first-ever European Cup final. He was also injured at the time of the impressive 3-0 thumping of Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in February.
However, had it not been for Kane’s four goals in the group stage, Tottenham would have been out of the Champions League by the end of November. His goal in the 2-4 defeat by Barcelona was academic, but his strike in the 2-2 draw away to PSV and his brace in the Wembley victory over the Dutch side earned Tottenham four points that were pivotal in them pipping Internazionale for second place in the group. While Moura’s and Son’s impact in the knockout rounds will live in the memory, Kane’s earlier contribution made a huge difference in rescuing a group stage campaign that had been floundering terribly in the autumn.
Harry Kane in the Carabao Cup
Unsurprisingly, Kane did not feature in the earlier rounds of the competition as Pochettino gave fringe players a runout, but by the time they visited Arsenal in the quarter-finals, it was time for the big guns. He featured in the 2-0 win at the Emirates and then won (and scored) a controversial penalty in the semi-final first leg victory over Chelsea.
However, he missed the return leg through injury as the Blues levelled the tie on aggregate before winning on penalties. Spurs may have had a higher scoring average in the games that Kane missed, but he made his presence count in the wins over Arsenal and Chelsea.
Harry Kane in the FA Cup
Kane only played for 15 minutes in the competition this season but still ended with a goal to his name. Spurs were 6-0 up in the third round against Tranmere when he came off the bench to add the seventh and final goal of the night. Three weeks later, he was in convalescence as Pochettino’s men lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace, ensuring that they would have a 10-day gap between their matches against Borussia Dortmund and Burnley in February.
Tottenham’s records this season are almost identical with or without Kane, with the scales tipping very slightly towards their statistics when the England captain has been in the team. Their win percentage in games with Kane is 58%, compared to 57% without. Their defeat ratio for both categories is 33% (remarkably, Spurs have lost 19 of their 57 matches in all competitions this season, yet could be 90 minutes away from being champions of Europe).
The goals for and against records with Kane in the team versus without him make for compelling reading. Even though he has been their main go-to source of goals for the last five years, Spurs have actually averaged a higher goal ratio in games without him this season (1.9 without versus 1.78 with him in the side). Also, their defensive record in games without Kane is marginally better than those in which he has played.
The statistics would suggest that Tottenham are able to manage just fine without Kane, and even if he doesn’t recover in time for the Champions League final, they still have plenty of potent weapons in attack. However, as Liverpool fans know from previous seasons, the presence of Tottenham’s number 10 on the field instantly gives opposition defences plenty to think about. Should he be fit, the duel between Kane and Virgil van Dijk could tip the balance as to which team will be celebrating at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night.