Well, then. Tottenham is proper fucked, innit?
Per the club’s Twitter account, Spurs striker/star/mouthbreather Harry Kane suffered ligament damage in his ankle during the side’s 1-0 home loss to Manchester United on Sunday, and will likely be shelved until at least early March. The injury happened on the last play of the game, when United defender Phil Jones clattered into him as the final whistle blew on another disappointing Spurs performance.
The timing could not be worse for Tottenham. Not only is Kane the only real choice at striker—no one is excited for the Fernando Llorente Experience—but the big Brit’s injury comes right as Son Heung-min is set to depart the club for two weeks to join South Korea at the AFC Asian Cup. Son has filled in admirably at striker when called upon in recent times, so his absence as a plan B will have manager Mauricio Pochettino scrambling to cobble together a Premier League attack.
As if that weren’t enough, the next month and a half of Spurs fixtures are no joke: they have cup matches against Chelsea (League Cup) and Crystal Palace (FA Cup), as well as Premier League clashes against seventh-place Watford, always-troublesome Leicester City, Chelsea again, and a derby match against Arsenal between now and March 2nd. And, oh yeah, they also have the two-legged Champions League round of 16 showdown with Borussia Dortmund, who currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga; the second leg of that tie is on March 5, which might be too soon for Kane to return.
It’s difficult to overstate how much he means to Spurs. As the team has suffered through a myriad of injuries this season—Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama, and Jan Vertonghen have all missed significant time so far, while Moussa Sissoko picked up a groin injury in that same Manchester United match—Kane has been the one constant carrying them to points. In 21 league appearances this season, Kane has 14 goals (tied for most in the Premier League with Mo Salah) and four assists. He also notched six goals in the Champions League group stage, helping Spurs advance at the expense of Inter.
Without his star man, Pochettino might have to employ Alli has a striker, or perhaps try a false nine approach with Eriksen up top, pinging through balls to Erik Lamela and avowed fascist Lucas Moura. That could hold the team over until Son returns in early February, when they could throw him up front and capitalize on his pace and smart movement.
If Tottenham were any other team, it would look to the transfer market for a proper backup to fill in while Kane’s out, but the never-ending stadium saga that has hung over the club for the last year or so has depleted the coffers. There’s no help coming during this window, and the consequences of Kane’s absence could have repercussions well into next season.
As it stands now, Tottenham sit in third, just a single point above Chelsea, hanging on to Champions League qualification for the time being after recent home losses to United and Wolves. A further drop in form without the team’s best player is not out of the realm of possibility and, when combined with Manchester United’s very real post-Mourinho bump and Arsenal still hanging around (both teams are seven points back of Tottenham at the moment), Spurs could see themselves in the Europa League spots before Kane is back.
The back-to-back Chelsea and Arsenal features at the end of February and beginning of March will likely be Kane’s target for returning, but if the Spurs tweet is to be believed, he will only just be starting to train when the team hosts its hated North London rivals at Wembley on March 2. A season that a month ago looked so promising could be done before Kane returns, all because of a late challenge of little consequence.
If there’s a time to start panicking, Spurs fans, it’s right now.