Tottenham Hotspur news: How Vincent Janssen can be a success in Harry Kane’s absence

Vincent Janssen has had a tough first campaign with Tottenham Hotspur since his £17million move from AZ Alkmaar last summer.



The Dutchman, though, is used to struggles and can overcome them, especially since scoring his first goal from open play for the club in Spurs’ 6-0 victory over Millwall in the FA Cup.

Harry Kane’s injury, which could see him out of action for up to seven weeks, has presented the 22-year-old with another chance to show what he’s made of at White Hart Lane and prove he is capable of succeeding in English football.

Janssen is footballer who knows hard work pays off. Released by Feyenoord in 2013, despite being a Netherlands youth international, he dropped down to the Dutch second tier and attempted to make his name with Almere City.

He was a huge success just west of Amsterdam, hitting 29 league goals in 69 appearances across two campaigns, before joining AZ in 2015. Here, Janssen found life tough to start with – sound familiar? He failed to score in his first eight appearances for the club but once he struck the first, goals flowed.

By the end of the 2015/16 campaign, Janssen – still just 21 – had scored 27 Eredivisie goals and was the top marksman in the division.

En route to this title, he not only became the first man to score 20 in the second half of the campaign, he was also the youngest player since Ronaldo in 1995/95 to score more than 25 goals in a campaign and won the Johan Cruyff Trophy which seeks to celebrate the Dutch talent of the year.

These goalscoring feats, though, were not the only reason Mauricio Pochettino bought Janssen, who is Spurs’ least experienced striking option by some distance.

In the Netherlands his excellent work rate and link play set him apart from other strikers, and are some of the main reasons the Argentine will have sanctioned his signing. Last season he attempted more tackles than Kane, made 56 chances for team-mates, which included four assists.

To understand why the player hasn’t quite hit it off yet in England, it’s best to look beyond his goals and look towards his strengths and style of play.

The Dutchman is different in style to fellow Spurs striker Kane in some quarters with his quick movements over short distances, partnered with smart touches and passes helping him excel previously. Kane, meanwhile, enjoys direct running to get behind a defence and dribbling around opponents he has put on the back foot.

The main flaw in Janssen’s transition from AZ to Tottenham is the way in which his strengths are played to. When looking at the shots he has been able to take this campaign – in 1,130 minutes of action – he’s been unable to take them from his favoured left side and has barely found himself near the six-yard box – a position which Kane sees the ball a huge amount of the time.

At AZ, it was Ruud van Nistelrooy who Janssen drew comparisons to with his shooting from inside the area, but he’s also been unlucky. On the opening day of the campaign against Everton he swivelled in the six-yard box but saw Maarten Stekelenburg blindly dive to his left and block his shot in one of his cameos.

Meanwhile, rather than being handed the ball in areas where he is able to shoot quickly – as he did against Millwall for his first open play goal – he instead is finding himself being handed the ball while holding off opposition defenders.

For his assist to Heung-Min Son against Middlesbrough, he held off Ben Gibson and neatly laid the ball off to his South Korean team-mate on the left-side of the box.

Similarly, at home to Leicester City he was battling Wes Morgan and Robert Huth all game in an attempt to create space for Son, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen. Indeed, for Spurs’ only goal of the game he held off Huth before being pulled to the ground to win a penalty, which he duly converted.

Janssen is finding himself evolving as a player rather than playing his natural game in attacking areas. His strength, which saw him win two free-kicks in Spurs’ recent 3-2 victory over Everton – in another short cameo barely five minutes in length – with one leading to Dele Alli’s goal in stoppage time, is now his key asset under Pochettino.

And that bears out when you consider he is currently taking around 1.1 shots per game compared to Kane’s 3.1, while last season he took around 4.5 per game in the Eredivisie.

Instead of being seen as a player who can outmanoeuvre and outgun opponents, its becoming more apparent Pochettino sees the player as a siege engine. A relentless battering ram to face tough defences and bring team-mates into play with his neat passing.

This, it appears, more than anything else, has limited his time on the pitch, rather unluckily, with his manager choosing the pace and trickery of Son to open up defences. And while his Argentine boss believes this about the player he will sit behind Kane and Son in the pecking order, despite the good he can offer the team as a poacher.

And his nerveless penalties, in tough situations, have been a huge positive and see him with a record across all competitions of a goal or assist every 125 minutes.

If Spurs can get the ball to Janssen closer to the goal in good shooting positions, rather than near the edge of the box with defenders at his back, he can prove an affective alternative to Kane in his absence. But if they don’t, the likes of Alli, Eriksen and Son, will have to weigh in with their share too, or risk seeing the Lilywhites slip down the Premier League table.

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