Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is expected to make his first Premier League start in over a month against Bournemouth as Mauricio Pochettino looks to turn the screw on Chelsea at the top of the table.
The prolific forward hasn't started a league game since the beginning of March when he notched twice in a 3-2 win over Everton. He picked up an ankle injury ten minutes into the next game, a 6-0 FA Cup victory over Millwall and at one stage it was thought he'd miss the remainder of the season.
Kane, however, had other ideas and gave his side's title bid a boost by returning as a substitute in the 4-0 dismantling of Watford last weekend. He's now tipped to lead the line against Eddie Howe's men just a week before the all important FA Cup semi-final against rivals Chelsea.
His teammates held up their end of the bargain during the strikers absence to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. A win in the early kick-off could see Pochettino's men cut the lead at the top to just four points, with Antonio Conte having to take his side to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Many believed the title returning to Stamford Bridge was a foregone conclusion but Spurs kept doing what was expected of them to stay within touching distance. Kane believes there's still a chance that there's a twist in the title race still to come.
“I said earlier in the season that if you want to be title contenders, you need two or three players getting double figures (Spurs have three in Kane, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son). If more than one player can reach 20 goals this season, it will really help the team.”
“When you look at the eight league games I’ve missed this season due to injury, we’ve won five and drawn three.
“So we’re still scoring goals and still winning games, which shows the strength in our squad.”
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The London-born forward heads into the match against Bournemouth on 24 goals for the season in all competitions, 19 of those arriving in the Premier League. His manager believes he's on course to surpass the 20 goal mark in the league for the third consecutive season and could finish the campaign with north of 30.
“All is possible in football if you believe. Harry is a player with a character and personality that believes in all”, the Spurs boss told a press conference.
“He’s a person that never settles for the limits, is open to improving and why not [get to 30]?
“All is possible, there are a lot of games to play until the end of the season, he is fit again now, available to play, he is in a good condition, he is very fresh in his body and his mind and he is very hungry to score again.”
The Cherries are the ideal team for Kane to return against. Only Hull City (64) and Swansea City (67) have conceded more goals than Howe's team (59). They've managed to keep a clean sheet in just the eight matches in all competitions this season and have won just four of their last 20 matches.
It is worth noting though that Bournemouth are one of only two teams to hold Spurs to a goalless draw in the Premier League.
It's doubtful there will be a repeat scoreline this time around. Since the goalless game back in October, Bournemouth have only drawn 0-0 on one other occasion – the South Coast derby at the beginning of the month.
Since March, Spurs are averaging three goals per game. They have the third best attack in the Premier League in terms of goals scored but they're arguably the most in-form attacking unit in Europe. Since the turn of the year they have scored 49 goals in just 19 matches.
When watching Bournemouth you can't help but feel they are set up to be exploited in the wide positions. Howe has his full-backs tuck inside in an attempt make his side as compact as possible. In theory, by having bodies in central areas it's harder to be broken down but those in black and red don't defend their area well. They have numbers back but not in good positions.
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Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool all targeted those areas to great success in recent encounters. The three stills above all resulted in goals as the wide players were able to progress with the ball into dangerous areas before working it into the penalty area.
Spurs, with Kyle Walker on the right and Ben Davies on the left, have the players who can dominate their respective flanks and provide ammunition for the strike force. In Son, Alli, Kane and Christian Eriksen, Spurs have more than enough firepower to capitalise on Bournemouth's shambolic defending.