LET’S START BY sparing a thought for Harry Kane.
In the week he busies himself in the dowdy reaches of mid-table with clashes with Arsenal and Aston Villa either side of a Europa Conference League clash with SK Mura of Slovenia, he must watch Manchester City go to Stamford Bridge, the Parc des Princes and Anfield.
Has an English team ever had a more challenging and glamorous week of away trips during a season?
Kane could have been a contender…but now he’s just like the rest of City’s high-paying Tunnel Club fans, with nose pressed against the glass, agonisingly stuck on the wrong side of life.
He must also despair at the criticism he has been reading all week following his nondescript performance against Chelsea last weekend. Kane has yet to score a goal in the league this season yet, but it’s hardly all his fault.
Nuno’s Spurs are not exactly the most thrilling of attacks and they are not serving their talisman. Kane has managed more than a single shot in just one of his four league games so far, and isn’t even getting close to goal enough, with just 10 touches in the opposition penalty area across his four games so far.
City, by contrast, always offer up bountiful gifts for their attackers. City players have aggregated more touches in the opposition box than any other side in the league so far, and the team average 36.15 penalty area touches per game, the highest in the league. (Liverpool are the next closest, with 31.)
At the other end of the scale, only Norwich, Palace, Burnley and Leicester have averaged less on that metric than Spurs so far this season.
This is the week we will find out whether City regret missing out on Kane to the same extent as he is missing them.
The Champions League group phase means City can probably afford a poor result in Paris if it comes to it, but the Premier League’s breakneck pace may be less forgiving of a couple of slip-ups away to their two primary title rivals across the next two weekends.
It begins at 12.30pm at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, against a Chelsea side rated by the bookmakers as the side most likely to rob City of their crown.
By buying Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea look to have done in the market what City didn’t do with Kane. He is making them a far more efficient side in front of goal: nobody has outperformed their Expected Goals return this season to a greater degree than Chelsea.
But bringing in Lukaku has brought a slight rebalancing of the team – Tuchel is leaning more to a 3-5-2 than the 3-4-3 that delivered Champions League success last season – and, consequently, they aren’t quite the astonishingly mean defence they were last season.
Yes, they have conceded just once so far this season – Mo Salah’s penalty at Anfield – but they are giving away more chances than they did during Tuchel’s first few months in charge last season.
Their Expected Goals Against thus far this season is higher than Liverpool’s, City’s and Man United’s (and also Villa’s, Brentford’s, Brighton’s and Everton’s) while opponents are getting an average of two additional shots per game compared to last season’s league games under Tuchel.
These stats are slightly skewed by the relative quality of teams Chelsea have played – and they spent 45 minutes with 10 men at Anfield – along with the fact Kante has not always been fit, but while Chelsea remain defensively excellent, they are giving opponents slightly more opportunities to score.
Said opponents must be utterly clinical, though, which is why Guardiola wanted Kane.
Given City’s riches, it’s extremely rare that Guardiola has faced an opponent who had the means to recruit the type of player City failed to, and he may come to regret it all tomorrow afternoon.
Premier League fixtures (kick-off 3pm unless stated)
Chelsea vs Man City (12.30pm)
Man United vs Aston Villa (12.30pm)
Leicester City vs Burnley
of the team
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Everton vs Norwich
Leeds vs West Ham
Watford vs Newcastle
Brentford vs Liverpool (5.30pm)
Southampton vs Wolves (2pm)
Arsenal vs Spurs (4.30pm)
Crystal Palace vs Brighton (8pm)
Source : https://www.the42.ie/harry-kane-city-5557034-Sep2021/815