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article imageAguero and Kane seek goals at White Hart Lane to end autumn slump

By Tyrrell Meertins     Sep 25, 2015 in Sports
Manchester City and Spurs have produced some of the most enthralling Premier League spectacles in recent years. For the most part the match-ups have followed a similar pattern: a fast paced, open game, filled with goals.
Of the last four meetings between the two sides City outscored the North London side 16-2, and Saturday’s showdown could see Manuel Pellegrini’s side increase the gap. Though both sides are built to attack, it’s difficult to identify many similarities between the two.
Where City destroyed Sunderland in midweek action, Spurs fell to rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane. The former possesses one of the strongest attacks in the league, the latter has encountered difficulties consistently posing a threat in the final third. One is a title contender that’s spent an abundance of money to claim silverware, while the other has turned to academy products to fill the void of previous poor transfers.
However, both sides possess the league’s leading goal-scorers from last season that coincidentally turned to the no.10 shirt over the summer. Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero are completely different strikers, but they enter Saturday’s clash in poor form, with the former failing to register a league goal this season.
Aguero is an experienced Premier League striker that can guarantee you 20 league goals when fit, whereas Kane faces the task of proving he’s not a one-season wonder. In truth, Kane is trying to reach the Argentine’s world-class status, and in terms of his overall game, it wouldn’t be a far-fetched goal.
More importantly, Kane and Aguero are hugely significant to their side’s in regards to depth. Wilfried Bony serves as the sole senior replacement at the Etihad, though, Kelechi Iheanacho is an option for Manuel Pellegrini. Mauricio Pochettino, on the other hand, isn’t blessed with much depth in this area as well, with only Clinton Njie capable of leading the line.
Saturday, though, presents the perfect opportunity for either striker to kick-start their campaign. Of the two, Pochettino would likely be worried due to Spurs’ limited goal threats in the final third, but prior to his side’s midweek loss to Arsenal, the Argentine reiterated that Kane’s drought will end soon.
"No, no, I'm not concerned," said Pochettino.
"I think it is coming, he will score again. As a striker you always need to score, he works hard for the team and I'm sure the goal is coming.
Pellegrini, in truth, wouldn’t be highly worried about Aguero’s unusual start to the season considering the abundance of explosive talent at his disposal, but perhaps a change in the system has thwarted his overall impact. The Argentine prefers to play in a two-man attack, yet City have thrived this season in a 4-2-3-1, with two wide players stretching the pitch, enabling Silva additional space in central areas to dominate.
No player has missed more clear cut chances than Aguero this season (6), yet he’s scored more goals against Spurs (10) than any other Premier League side. Somewhat of a limited striker, Aguero’s heavily reliant on his speed and prolific finishing, and the need to play a 4-2-3-1 involves his reluctance to defend and City’s previous susceptibility via transitions — oddly, Aguero produced arguably the best Premier League individual display against Spurs last season, scoring four goals in the similar setup.
The fact that teams sit deep and play on the counter deprives Aguero of space to run into, and without a strike partner to drop deep to create space — a feat that was demonstrated when Eden Dzeko dropped deep to link play, while Aguero charged behind the last defender — the Argentine has found it extremely difficult to flourish.
In retrospect, Kane is an all-round talent in comparison to Aguero, as he’s involved in Spurs’ build up, creating and scoring goals in the final third. While it was difficult to expect the England international to replicate last year’s success, apart from goals, Kane has been influential in Spurs’ laboured attacking play.
Kane may not possess Aguero’s clinical finishing, but he works the channels extremely well, and is much more involved in his team’s overall attacking play — City’s issue is that they have to base their play around the Argentine. The 22-year-old evaded two challenges from deep in the build up to Dele Alli’s opener at Leicester, and his strength to hold up the ball and link play was crucial to Ryan Mason’s winner at Sunderland.
Though neither player has started the season superbly, they both remain Saturday’s main attacking threats, and their overall impact may hinge on the defensive approach from the opposing manager.
From a defensive perspective, Spurs have performed well against the top-sides thus far, but it would be wise for Pochettino to be more conservative against the league leaders. The variation in pressing may beleaguer City, but Aguero prefers playing against a high-line — especially with the like of De Bruyne, Silva and Yaya Toure capable of supplying through-balls.
The other reason being if Pellegrini can field his first choice attack, Silva and De Bruyne – arguably two of the best space invaders in the game — offer an insurmountable task for the impressive Eric Dier. Dier has been one of the standout players for Spurs this season, but he lacks a defensive partner that could help limit space between the lines.
Stylistically, Aguero would be fancied to increase his goal tally at White Hart Lane, whereas personnel issues could benefit Kane. City’s injury issues are increasing weekly, and a makeshift back four will surely enhance the profligate striker’s chance of scoring this weekend. This will also be the first time Kane could start alongside new signing Son Heung-min and the returning Christian Eriksen.
Son’s lateral dribbling from wide positions into central area combined with Eriksen’s ability to ignite counter-attacks in transition offer Kane improved service in the final third. This is an area where Spurs have struggled in recent years as Nacer Chadli, Andros Townsend and Lamela have been consistently underwhelming.
In truth, Spurs pose a legitimate threat on the break, and considering their big matches this year, launching quick counter attacks against a makeshift back four that doesn’t field a natural holding midfielder can be crucial. Pochettino’s recent pragmatism suggests he’ll be wary of his compatriot’s threat, whereas Kane’s limited service suggests his remarkable goal drought may continue.
Perhaps Aguero and Kane endured slow starts to the season, but given the personnel and stylistic issues both sides currently possess, it’s still unlikely both men will be off the score sheet.
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