Second place the reality for both Tottenham Hotspur and Harry Kane?

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West Bromwich Albion draw all but ends Tottenham’s title challenge

These were the rallying words of star striker Harry Kane and skipper Hugo Lloris on Monday night, an evening which saw Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League title challenge all but evaporate after a disappointing 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion, guaranteeing English football’s miracle team, Leicester City, their first ever Premier League crown. But there is no shame in second place. Indeed, if that is where Tottenham Hotspur finish this Premier League campaign, it will comfortably be Spurs’ highest Premier League finishing position, eclipsing the fourth place finishes the club achieved twice, in 2009-10 and 2011-12. In fact, 1963 was the last time the side from north London finished that high in the English top flight, just two years after their last title win.  It has been an incredible season for Mauricio Pochettino’s young side, who boast not only the youngest average squad age in the Premier League, but the fourth youngest in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Leicester City’s now certain Premier League title may certainly be the stuff of footballing fairy-tale, but Spurs’ second place finish, with a team of relative footballing babies, is also nothing short of miraculous.

Second again for Harry?

Integral to Tottenham’s stellar season has been their young English centre forward Harry Kane, who has followed up his incredible breakout season in English football’s elite league in 2014-15 by cementing his reputation as one of the most exciting young English strikers in recent memory. 24 goals has Kane sitting pretty at the top of the scoring charts, one ahead of Manchester City superstar Sergio Aguero who, rather worryingly for Kane, was the man who relegated the young England ace into second place in the Premier League golden boot award last time out. With that particular race going down to the wire, Kane will not be buoyed by the fact that he has already been beaten into another second place by Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez, who on Sunday night was proclaimed PFA Player of the Year award at a ceremony in London.  And unlike fellow shortlisted nominees N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy, Kane won’t be consoled by a maiden Premier League title winner’s medal either.

Positives for Tottenham and Kane

It is not quite a case of second all round for Spurs this year though, as Dele Alli’s claiming of the PFA Young Player of the Year award in his first season in the Premier League proves, and it would be unfair not to mention the many positives that can be taken away from a campaign in which few would have tipped the White Hart Lane side to be challenging for the biggest prize in English football. Similarly, many questioned whether Harry Kane could repeat his sensational first full campaign as a top-flight professional, suggesting that the dreaded ‘second-season syndrome’ could halt his progress. Yet here Kane and his teammates are, just three games before the end of the season, sitting in the rarefied air of the automatic Champions League qualification places, the young star atop the golden boot standings, and looking forward, along with many of his fresh-faced colleagues, to an exciting summer of international football in the shape of Euro 2016 in France. Indeed, with their performances for club and country over the past few months, Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Eric Dier could all find themselves as starters in Roy Hodgson’s England team, reflecting both the progress they have made as individuals, and the club has in general in recent times. At this moment it is only right to also reflect that Kane is 22, Alli 20, Rose 25 and Dier 22. Three of those players mentioned, Dier being the exception, were named in the PFA team of the year, joined by their teammate and inspirational centre half Toby Alderweirald. Tottenham’s quota of four players can only be matched by Leicester City. And similarly to Spurs’ young English contingent, there are many other Tottenham stars who can look ahead to an exciting summer in France, all set to play key roles in their respective country’s push for glory after outstanding club seasons. There are many things to look forward for this exciting young Tottenham side – not least two potential candidates for Premier League goal of the season.

Tottenham and Kane by numbers 2015/16

Harry Kane currently sits atop the golden boot charts, but he is not the only Tottenham player who boasts exceptional individual numbers this season. Christian Eriksen’s 12 assists place him second behind only Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, while Dele Alli’s 10 goals from midfield can only be bettered by Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez. Mousa Demebele’s rating of 7.75 can also only be bettered by Mahrez (the dreaded second again!)Tottenham, meanwhile, boast the best defensive record in the league, with only 26 goals conceded, at the other end find that their 65 goals can only be eclipsed by Manchester City’s 66, and their overall goal difference of +39 a clear 7 ahead of their nearest rival. And once again all achieved with by far the youngest team in the Premier League, coming in at an average age of under 25 – Jan Vertonghen, who turned 29 last week, being the oldest outfield player to feature this season. Kane himself can now boast 48 Premier League goals, 45 coming in the last two campaigns alone, and can surely look forward to a starting berth in the England team to take the field in this summer’s Euros. An incredible rise for both player and club, and one that seems set to continue into next season and beyond. Second may not make happy reading for Kane and Co. at this particular moment, but the future may hold much more for player and team alike.

To Win the Premier League Outright

Leicester City – 1.040

Tottenham Hotspur – 13.00

Top Goalscorer

Harry Kane – 1.40

Sergio Aguero – 2.87

Jamie Vardy – 17.00

Odds courtesy of Bet365 and correct as of 13.00 GMT on 26/04/16

Steve Paget