Harry Kane's underappreciated Tottenham role that Ange Postecoglou has an alternative for

Tottenham are missing a crucial Harry Kane quality at present
Tottenham are missing a crucial Harry Kane quality at present -Credit:HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

Tottenham's set-piece woes were once again a major talking point in Sunday's North London Derby defeat against Arsenal. Such a pivotal game for both teams as the end of the 2023/24 campaign edges ever closer, it was the Gunners who claimed all three points after racing into a 3-0 half-time lead.

All three goals were extremely poor ones to concede from a Tottenham perspective and self-inflicted, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's own goal and Kai Havertz's header both coming from corner kicks. It now means that Spurs have conceded 12 goals from set-pieces this season - the joint-sixth worst tally in the Premier League along with Manchester United.

That total does not include own goals, however. If they were included, Spurs would now be on 14 goals conceded as a result of Hojbjerg inadvertently heading the ball into his own net.

A big talking point going into the game anyway due to Arsenal's excellent record at set-pieces coupled with Tottenham conceding from a corner in their previous game at Newcastle United; their woes in that area of the pitch were well and truly highlighted to all watching on. quizzed Ange Postecoglou in his post-match press conference about the number of goals they are conceding from set-pieces but the head coach stated that he has a lot more to fix than just that.

"Yeah, no because it's understanding where you are as a football team," said the 58-year-old. "If I thought fixing defensive set pieces was the answer to us bridging the gap then I'd put all of my time and effort into that. But that's not where we're at.

"For us it's about, when I was focused on the details of, not just set pieces but a lot of moments in games where we don't sense that you give good opposition the time and the space to do things then they're going to hurt you. I think they maybe had four attempts on goal in the first half and they conceded three.

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"I don't think it's about one part of it, I think it's a bigger, broader picture than that, but our defensive set pieces for those two were very poor. But there's a lot more than that to fix."

One key factor in terms of set-pieces that has perhaps gone under the radar this season is the loss of Harry Kane to Bayern Munich. Not only just a pivotal player in the opposition box for Tottenham due to his eye for a goal and his ability to pick out a pass, the 30-year-old was also very important for Spurs in their own 18-yard box.

When defending corners, the club's all-time top goalscorer would be the first line of defence and often get his head to opposition crosses to snuff out the danger. That was key for Tottenham in regards to defending corners and free-kicks, with his underrated role perhaps only coming to the fore now due to his former team's current struggles there.

Tottenham unfortunately have not had that type of player in their team on a consistent basis across the 2023/24 season. Richarlison has taken on a similar role this term but he has not been a constant in the side due to a couple of spells out injured and also because he has been in and out of the team.

The 26-year-old is very good in the air, notably scoring half of his 14 Spurs goals with his head. After an impressive cameo off the bench in the 3-2 defeat against Arsenal, Richarlison may well come back into the Tottenham XI in the team's final five games as they have missed a focal point and his presence up front.

Not only will he give the Lilywhites a boost in the final third, he will also be key when it comes to helping defend those set-pieces that Postecoglou's side have really struggled with this term. Kane has been a huge miss for Tottenham in more ways than one and now the Spurs boss has to find a resolution before it continues to cost his team even more points in their top-four battle.

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