Harry Kane still shows world-class talent despite goal streak ending – Premier League hits and misses

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Image: Spurs players celebrate after Kurt Zouma's own goal

Kane’s scoring run ends but he still shows he is world class

All good runs come to an end and Harry Kane will look at his goalless outing against West Ham and be thoroughly disappointed.

With 178 top-flight goals, the England captain’s personal aim between now and May is to eclipse Sergio Aguero (184) and Andy Cole (187) in the all-time Premier League goalscorers list – with a view to targeting Wayne Rooney’s (208) total and possibly Alan Shearer’s (260) too before he retires.

Kane prodded a clear one-on-one chance over West Ham’s bar during the dying moments of Spurs’ 3-1 win over the Hammers and there ended his chance to find the net for a fifth Premier League game running.

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Kane scoops a great chance over

But the 28-year-old produced a simply devastating display when it came to creativity in Sunday’s top-four six-pointer. He played a vital role in Kurt Zouma’s early own goal, providing the low cross, before setting up Heung-Min Son with two very different assists.

The first, a wonderful defence-splitting pass which was almost as good as the South Korean’s emphatic finish. Then – his nitty, gritty side of the game – a flick-on from a route-one Hugo Lloris punt for Son to nip through and finish.

When Kane’s at his very best – as he was on Sunday afternoon – then so is Son. The pair have now extended their record-breaking partnership to 39 goals, while the Spurs talisman now has 51 assists.

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Image: Kane set up two goals in Spurs' 3-1 win over West Ham

Hammers boss David Moyes described Kane as “world class”, and Antonio Conte knows just how important he is to Spurs’ top-four chances.

“He’s brilliant in both phases,” the Italian said. “When he has to score and when he has to make an assist. He’s two players in one. He can be a No 10 and a No 9 and he doesn’t change.

“Today he deserved to score another goal, he had the chances to score and improve his record and give us more calm to finish the game.”
Sam Blitz

Antonio continues barren run for Hammers

Compare Kane’s display to Michail Antonio’s outing in north London. In fact, the West Ham talisman’s display summed up the Hammers’ afternoon – off the pace, lacking in clinical finishing and tired.

Antonio missed two clear-cut chances to haul West Ham back into the contest after a dismal start – including a penalty area finish at the start of the second-half which would have brought them level.

In the same way Spurs need take to deliver for the rest of the team, Moyes knows the Jamaican international is the key figure up top, especially with Jarrod Bowen out injured. But just one goal since New Year’s Day reduces West Ham’s chances of literally achieving their goals.

Image: Michail Antonio vies for possession with Cristian Romero

“I didn’t think he reached his levels,” said Moyes in his post-match press conference. “We need Michail to play at a really high level. The level of the couple of Tottenham front players is such a high level.

“[He had] two big chances. I don’t know if he’s struggled in front of goal. He doesn’t come over that way.

“If you’re a No 9 if you don’t’ sore your confidence. He had good opportunity. Tottenham had four shots on target. They scored three out of the four and we had chances. Son and Kane are great at it. If you have quality player, you cause Tottenham problems.”

Moyes was almost resigned to the fact that winning the Europa League is now West Ham’s best chance of getting Champions League football – and Antonio’s displays must improve if the Hammers have any chance.
Sam Blitz

Timely return of key players for Leicester

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester’s win over Brentford in the Premier League

Things are looking much brighter for Leicester heading into the final part of the season.

Not only because of the momentum that their 2-1 win over Brentford will give them, but because key players are now returning to fitness for Brendan Rodgers in what has been an injury-ravaged season.

Timothy Castagne scored a screamer on his first return after nearly three months out, Jonny Evans replaced him in the second half for his first appearance since early December while James Justin played his first full Premier League match in over a month.

Wesley Fofana is also returning after he scored in Thursday’s Europa Conference League defeat at Rennes following seven months out injured.

It is little wonder Rodgers is positive about what is to come.

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“I’m very optimistic we can finish well,” he said after the win, “and hopefully we finish the season really strongly.

“It will galvanise the group, because these guys haven’t played a lot of football this season so they’re going to come in and give that energy and a freshness to the team.

“It just looks much healthier and much more competitive for us. It’s exciting now for the last part of the season.”

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Brendan Rodgers praised his Leicester players’ mentality and desire to win as they beat Brentford 2-1

Rodgers also confirmed Marc Albrighton should be available after the international break after tweaking his groin at Rennes, while striker Jamie Vardy could be set to return in two weeks’ time.

Unfortunately, there is one major new injury setback for Rodgers with midfielder Wilfred Ndidi potentially out for the rest of the season.

Nampalys Mendy deputised well for the Nigerian against Brentford but he remains ineligible for the Europa Conference League – the competition Rodgers will now be going all out for with his returning players.
Declan Olley

Eriksen absence badly felt by Brentford

Image: Brentford's Christian Eriksen missed the match at Leicester due to Covid-19

When the teams were announced it was hugely disappointing not to see Christian Eriksen in the squad after the Dane had contracted coronavirus this week.

There had been a glimmer of hope he may have featured at Leicester after Brentford boss Thomas Frank revealed pre-match that the midfielder tested negative on the morning of the game, but it was “too early” to include him.

Eriksen had started the Bees’ last two matches and unsurprisingly they won both of those, so it was a huge blow for the trip to the King Power Stadium.

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Eriksen’s absence was immediately felt in the first half as Brentford failed to take control of the game and were undone by what Frank correctly described as “two worldies”.

The second half was much better from his side but ultimately the Bees missed Eriksen.

Asked about his absence after the defeat, Frank said: “Obviously Christian is a top player with abilities that he only has in our team, so we would have liked to have had him on the pitch but I still think we did enough to get a point.”

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Thomas Frank described Leicester’s two goals as ‘worldies’ and he felt they were the only difference between the two sides

Brentford have got some tough matches remaining as they go to Chelsea and Manchester United, while they host West Ham and Tottenham, so the return of Eriksen will be much-needed.

But it is the games against Watford, Southampton, Everton and Leeds where the 30-year-old’s genius will really shine through and ensure they are not dragged into a relegation dogfight.
Declan Olley

Big step along the road for Arteta

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win at Aston Villa

It was a sign of where the game was that Rob Holding replaced Martin Odegaard with five minutes to play. It is all about results for Arsenal at this stage of the campaign and there is no need to entertain.

The prize is huge if they can finish in the top four after five years away from the Champions League and they strengthened that position at Villa Park.

Mikel Arteta needed holding back by fourth official Martin Atkinson as he continued to point at his players to track back during an attritional second half.

After Leno clawed away one last fizzing free-kick from Coutinho, the final whistle was greeted ecstatically by Arteta as he embraced his assistant Steve Round on the touchline.

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The Spaniard is striving to take Arsenal back to where they feel they belong – and here you could sense the importance of this victory in one of the more awkward hurdles that remained this term.

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Mikel Arteta says his side showed ‘a lot of personality’ to bounce back from their defeat against Liverpool with victory over Aston Villa

This was an off-day for Villa, as Gerrard slumped back into his seat during the closing stages.

Arteta never stopped gesticulating. He has got his players set up in his image now – “he knows exactly what we need” goes the song from the jubilant Arsenal fans – and while trips to Tottenham and Chelsea still lie ahead, there is nothing flaky about them anymore.

Only Arsenal have regularly fielded a starting XI whose average age is under 25 – but they are growing in experience with each passing week. This was another big step for Arteta and for Arsenal.
Ben Grounds

Villa struggling to take next step under Gerrard

Image: Villa endured a frustrating afternoon

Aston Villa’s first and only shot on target in Saturday’s home defeat to Arsenal was the final kick of the game – a hopeful effort from a Philippe Coutinho free-kick in the 96th minute.

When that stat was put to Steven Gerrard after the game by BT Sport’s Des Kelly, the Villa boss’ disappointment spilled over. “Yeah that is exactly how I described the game to you, though, is it not,” he said, later adding: “But well done for spotting that”

It wasn’t just the result but the nature of the performance that proved to be so frustrating for the team’s fans – some of whom booed the players off at half-time – and their manager.

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Gerrard said it was a lack of belief that cost his side yet again against one of the Premier League’s top teams. Since his arrival in November, Villa have failed on seven occasions across all competitions to beat any of the teams currently in the top six (D1 L6).

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Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says his side showed Arsenal too much respect in their 1-0 defeat in the Premier League

It proved to be another sensitive subject for Gerrard after the game as he and Kelly clashed again when Villa’s record against the top teams was brought up. “Well done, Des, for recognising that,” he said. “I do like the way you work those things out pretty quick.”

When Villa appointed Gerrard it felt like it was to take the next step, to achieve their ambition of qualifying for Europe again. But if they are to have any chance, they need results against the teams competing for those positions.

Gerrard knows that, and with over £100m already spent on signings since the summer, the pressure will be on next season to show he is the man to do that. He took his chance in the post-match interview to tell the Villa hierarchy that he needs more additions to meet their targets while reminding his players what he expects of them.

“If we want to take one of them places, we’ve got to be positive, got to believe in it, can’t be indecisive, and we’ve got to go and grab it off them, we’ve got to keep learning and get support from up above.”
Zinny Boswell

Leeds believe after sensational comeback at Wolves

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leeds’ win against Wolves

“This is a special group,” said Jesse Marsch at full time. It hadn’t seemed that way at the end of a first half in which Leeds looked well off the pace and trailed Wolves 2-0 with seemingly no way back and their Premier League survival chances in the spotlight. But their second half performance showed incredible resilience, bravery and quality – and that they have the tools to play their way out of trouble in the final weeks of this season.

Their cause was undoubtedly helped by Raul Jimenez’s controversial sending off and, even at 3-2 up, they were still reckless in their own defensive third, presenting Wolves with opportunities. But in between they showed the ambition and ability to capitalise on some generous defending from the hosts.

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Leeds striker Patrick Bamford was emotional and consoled by his team-mates after he was forced to leave his side’s Premier League match against Wolves

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The impact of Friday night on this Leeds team could be huge. The three points have already lifted them seven points above the relegation zone but the turnaround will bring belief and confidence. If the last-gasp win at Norwich buoyed them, this will take the mood to another level again.

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Leeds manager Jesse Marsch gives his thoughts on what was a thrilling 3-2 win over Wolves after his side went 2-0 down

With Southampton and Watford up next, they have a fantastic chance to string a set of results together to secure their top-flight status.

Of course, the thrill of watching Leeds is the adventure and risk in their play and because of that, mapping out potential results in their run-in is hard to do. Their spate of injuries adds extra uncertainty. But while their weaknesses were on show in the first half at Molineux, their strengths won out – and that may just be the ultimate summary of their survival scrap.
Peter Smith

Wolves’ reputation unravels amid Molineux chaos

Image: Raul Jimenez was sent off for Wolves against Leeds

Victory here would have taken Wolves – briefly – to within two points of the Champions League places in the Premier League and at half-time it looked more than likely. What followed was an uncharacteristic capitulation to alarm supporters and staff.

Wolves had never before conceded three goals in a single game under Bruno Lage but managed it in a crazy second half against Leeds at Molineux as panic engulfed the team. After scoring two cleverly worked goals, all three they let in were defensively awful.

Rayan Ait-Nouri was caught out for the first, Jose Sa and Romain Saiss appeared to temporarily lose their bearings for the second and Willy Boly was far too tentative in failing to deal with the third. There was an element of farce to all of the goals.

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Bruno Lage was disappointed that his team suffered as a result of a controversial red card following a collision, in their 3-2 defeat against Leeds

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Lage spoke afterwards of his young team needing to grow up. Ait-Nouri is relatively green. The same can be said of Francisco Trincao, who came off the bench to set up one goal and score another. But the rest of those involved are vastly experienced players.

Indeed, Wolves have long been characterised as wily campaigners, perhaps one of the sides best suited to defending a two-goal lead when reduced to 10 men by Raul Jimenez’s red card. Instead, chaos ensued as the team appeared to take leave of their senses.

A one-off or something more alarming? Whatever the truth, and for all that Leeds deserve credit for their comeback, this was an extraordinary defeat – three points dropped barely covers it. If Wolves are to miss out on Europe, this is the night they will remember.
Adam Bate

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