Three solutions to Tottenham's striker crisis with Harry Kane and Heung-min Son out of action

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Harry Kane's injury has created a crisis for Tottenham.

Tottenham‘s woes were compounded at the end of their 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday by the sight of star striker Harry Kane sitting on the ground clutching his ankle.

There are suggestions he could miss at least a month due to the injury, which comes at an awful time for Spurs given that Heung-min Son could be absent until February as he joins the South Korea squad for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup.

One thing working in Spurs’ favour is that apart from the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea, Tottenham don’t have a tough assignment until their Champions League Round of 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund – with the hope being Kane will be fit for that February 13 game.

The Lilywhites face Fulham, Watford, Newcastle, and Leicester in the league before that Dortmund fixture, with only one of those games, against Fulham, away from home.

Crystal Palace away from home in the FA Cup will provide a tough test, but as Pochettino is usually unconcerned about the cup fixtures, overall it’s a friendly run of fixtures to be facing when two of your best players are missing.

Here’s a look at the options available to manager Mauricio Pochettino as he decides how to set up his team without Kane and Son.

STRAIGHT SWAP – FERNANDO LLORENTE FOR KANE

Fernando Llorente looked to be on his way out of the club this January transfer window, having made only 44 appearances across competitions since joining on deadline day in summer 2017. He’s scored only nine times for Tottenham, and six of those have come in two hat-tricks against lower-league opposition, once last year against Rochdale and then a repeat earlier this month against Tranmere.

Yet Kane’s injury means the Spaniard is unlikely to be allowed to leave until the summer – when, incidentally, he will be available on a free transfer, unless club and player decide to extend his contract.

That scoring record, which reads three goals from 42 appearances apart from those hat-tricks, won’t inspire too much confidence in Spurs fans. But Llorente has been prolific in England before, with his 15 goals for Swansea in 2016-17 saving the club from relegation that season.

The issue at Tottenham is more one in terms of stylistic fit. Spurs’ attack is built on speed and mobility, and playing with a target man will force them to change their style. In Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, they do have two good crossers of the ball, so perhaps Pochettino will tweak his tactics in order to maximise Llorente’s impact.

The Spaniard’s ability to hold the ball up could make up for his relative lack of mobility, as well. Alli, Erik Lamela, and Lucas Moura could all play off the Spaniard and run in behind while he occupies the defence.

His link-up with Eriksen will be key. If the two of them can strike up a good partnership, the rest of the attackers will benefit.

Fernando Llorente is the like-for-like replacement up front.

Fernando Llorente is the like-for-like replacement up front.

DELE ALLI PUSHED FORWARD

Alli has been deployed as a second striker before, playing off Kane, but he’s rarely played up front on his own.

But given Spurs’ style, deploying Alli up top could be a highly effective, if unorthodox, solution to Kane’s absence. Alli has the physical attributes to bother any defence, and if he’s given the freedom to roam away from a central position, he’ll pull defenders with him and ruin the opposition’s shape.

That would allow for his playmaker traits to flourish, as his team-mates could take advantage of the spaces he creates with his movement.

Equally, Alli is strong enough in the air and sharp in the box, which means he could potentially thrive in a central role. His heading ability is a skill Tottenham have already taken advantage of, as he gets a decent amount of goals by being on the end of a cross.

But it would require a great deal of adjustment for a player who’s always had another central player to link with when playing in an advanced role before. Alli has shown his adaptability already during his young career, playing in a deeper midfield role and on the wings when required, but playing as a striker is a different beast.

Being the central focus of a defence will be a new challenge. Not to mention, defenders would likely target him for his petulance even more, and he’d have to be careful not to lash out.

This seems like the sort of solution Pochettino would come up with, however, so don’t be surprised if, given some of the weaker opposition Spurs are about to face, the manager tests out this experiment.

Alli has experience playing off Kane - can he do it on his own?

Alli has experience playing off Kane – can he do it on his own?

LUCAS MOURA AS A FALSE NINE

Like Alli, Spurs’ Brazilian attacker has almost no experience playing up front on his own. However, he does have the knack of scoring goals, as a record of eight goals from 20 starts in the Premier League and Champions League this season, his first full season in England, shows.

Given that he plays largely as a winger, that’s a commendable scoring record for the man signed from Paris Saint-Germain last January.

The Brazilian doesn’t quite run around the pitch like Son does, but there are similarities between the two players’ games that suggest he could perform in a central role just as the Korean often does.

The former PSG player would be allowed to roam – that movement from the main attacker is a key feature of Spurs’ game – so Moura would likely end up playing as a false nine more than as an orthodox striker. But he also has the nous to get behind the defence, as he often makes clever runs associated more than strikers.

Moura has pedigree as a goalscorer.

Moura has pedigree as a goalscorer.

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Man City determined to keep up pressure in title race, says Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola warned Liverpool his Manchester City side are determined to maintain the pressure after moving back within four points of the Premier League leaders.

Gabriel Jesus struck twice as the champions eased to a 3-0 win over 10-man Wolves at the Etihad Stadium on Monday.

It was a convincing response to the Reds’ victory at Brighton on Saturday and Guardiola wants his side to be ready to pounce on any slip-ups by Jurgen Klopp’s team in the title race.

Guardiola said: “We cannot play the games against Liverpool. All we can do is win our games. We cannot control what they do, we can control what we do.

“The only way to do that is to be there – be there and maybe one day they fail.

“It’s pretty sure if we don’t win, they will be champions and that is why we have to put pressure by winning our games.

“It is incredible the numbers we have in this period, the number to be champion no problem at all – but one team has done better so far. All we can do is be there and be there to the end.”

City got off to a great start against Wolves as Jesus slid in the opener after 10 minutes. Wolves’ hopes then took another turn for the worse after Willy Boly was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Bernardo Silva nine minutes later.

Jesus doubled City’s lead with a penalty after Raheem Sterling was fouled and victory was wrapped up 12 minutes from time when Conor Coady diverted Kevin De Bruyne’s wicked cross into his own net.

Wolves never recovered from Boly’s dismissal but the visitors had no complaints.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo said: “It’s very close to me and I think it’s a red card. It’s clear, you saw it. It’s a red card.”

Silva later revealed Boly apologised to him over the incident and there were no hard feelings.

The Portugal international said: “It was quite a hard tackle but I am fine. Yes he did (apologise) at the end of the game.

“These things happen. You don’t do it on purpose, I think, and he said that. Everything’s fine. It’s football.”

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David Wagner leaves Huddersfield Town by mutual consent

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Huddersfield have announced the departure of manager David Wagner by mutual consent.

The Terriers sit bottom of the Premier League after Saturday’s goalless draw at Cardiff halted a club record nine straight defeats.

“David Wagner has departed his role as head coach of Huddersfield Town by mutual consent,” read a club statement.

“The 47-year-old leaves Town after detailed discussions with the board of directors, with both parties agreeing this is the correct move for the future of the club.”

Wagner, who signed a new three-year deal in May last year, led the club into the top tier from the Sky Bet Championship and kept them up last season.

Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle said: “I’d like to begin by thanking David for all he has achieved at Huddersfield Town over the last three-and-a-half years.

“Under his stewardship, we’ve achieved things on the football pitch that surpass anything in modern memory, and that have gone well beyond my wildest expectations as chairman and as a fan.

“Under David’s management, we took this club to the highest position it has held in almost 50 years and created memories that will last forever.

“His achievements will rightly put him up there in Huddersfield Town history alongside great names like Herbert Chapman and Mick Buxton – legendary managers who changed the face of this club.

“As I had said previously, I had no intention of sacking David this season. Subsequently David – being the great man he is – came to us and made it clear that he needs a break from the rigours of football management.”

Hoyle confirmed under-23s coach Mark Hudson will take charge for Sunday’s league game against Manchester City.

Wagner was unknown in this country when he replaced Chris Powell in November 2015 after leaving his role as head coach of Borussia Dortmund reserves.

He steered the Terriers away from relegation trouble and then in his first full season led them to an unlikely promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

The Terriers had started the campaign as relegation candidates, but finished it by returning to the top flight for the first time in 45 years.

Town defied all the odds again to avoid an instant return to the Sky Bet Championship last season when clinching a point at Chelsea in their penultimate game.

They invested £40million on new players during the summer, but this season had to wait until November before winning their first game at the 11th attempt.

Victory at Wolves at the end of that month lifted hopes they could launch another great escape, but eight successive league defeats followed before another loss at Bristol City in the FA Cup.

Town are currently eight points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.

Hoyle had said that he would not sack Wagner, even if the club were relegated, and reminded fans of that promise in October.

The Terriers’ owner and chairman added: “After a long discussion we all felt that David staying at the club until the end of the season was best, but we’ve kept discussions open and we all now feel that the time is right to part ways.

“I know the term ‘mutual consent’ is often a byword for the manager being sacked in professional football, but this is a truly joint decision.

“David has a real, genuine love for this club and, like me, his foremost concern in our talks has been to establish what is best for Huddersfield Town.

“I cannot thank David enough for what he has achieved. Along with his family, he will always be a friend to me and Huddersfield Town.”

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