No Kane, no gain for Spurs, says Neil Humphreys
Tottenham need second striker to make top four
(Christian Eriksen 8, Harry Kane 89-pen)
(Marcin Wasilewski 19, Shinji Okazaki 48)
Never mind the wicked, there can be no rest for the wonderful.
Tottenham need Harry Kane on the bench like a fish needs a bicycle.
Without their indomitable striker, Spurs are a blunt, handicapped force in search of a battering ram.
Kane isn't merely a focal point of Tottenham's attack. He's their only point, the sole cutting edge at the apex.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino made the mistake of benching his striker for the 2-2 draw with Leicester in the FA Cup third round yesterday morning (Singapore time).
He will not repeat the failed trick when the two sides meet again in the English Premier League on Thursday morning.
A 69-minute absence was enough to make Tottenham hearts grow fonder for Kane, highlighting both his peerless qualities and his side's worrying limitations.
A footballer rarely increases his value by not playing, but the 22-year-old probably added a couple of million to a future transfer fee by huddling at the back with the other substitutes.
Before the game, Alan Shearer claimed Kane was worth £90 million ($188m). After Spurs' toiling against Leicester, the centre forward warrants a fresh evaluation.
Tottenham cannot qualify for the Champions League without him.
Kane's 50th goal from 104 appearances, a terrific scoring rate for a developing striker, came courtesy of a fortuitous penalty, wrongly awarded and scarcely deserved.
Nevertheless, his side would have been lost without him, in every sense.
With both clubs prioritising their Premier League campaigns, changes were inevitable, but Leicester made eight to Spurs' seven.
Only Kasper Schmeichel, N'Golo Kante and Leonardo Ulloa would consider themselves first-team regulars and the injured Kante didn't return for the second half.
And yet, the Foxes pressed with greater urgency. The personnel was different, but the structure was essentially the same, particularly when the lively Shinji Okazaki came on and scored a devilishly exquisite goal.
In contrast, Tottenham stuttered and choked up front with less grace than an asthmatic swallowing a chicken bone.
Pochettino's 4-2-3-1 formation gave his side an edge in midfield, but it was too much fumbling foreplay without a glimpse of a climax.
Son Heung Min was saddled with the thankless task of spearheading Tottenham's attack, essentially allowing the South Korean to tick off all the qualities he didn't possess.
As a striker, he has the makings of a fine midfielder.
So Joshua Onomah often found himself furthest forward. The 18-year-old Englishman began positively, performing a pivotal role for Tottenham's opener, but soon faded like the setting Son beside him.
A veteran of a full nine minutes of Premier League action, Onomah could hardly be blamed for his inexperience. He's one for the future.
But Tottenham's immediate goal of finishing in the top four of the league risks being compromised by a lack of scoring alternatives.
Considering the size, stature and transfer budgets of both clubs, it was surprising that Leicester's second 11 boasted the greater depth.
Okazaki busied himself like a woodpecker chipping his way through a giant redwood and newcomer Demarai Gray impressed on his debut.
Tottenham, on the other hand, were an uneasy mix of promising kids and brittle benchwarmers. Only when the beast was unleashed did they threaten to roar.
And Kane truly is a beastly, muscular, messy presence, all trunk thighs and busy elbows as he gets in the faces of those foolish enough to cross his path.
If scientists at the Alan Shearer School of Striking Genetics were tasked with shaking a DNA cocktail into a test tube to create his definitive successor, the end product would look a lot like Tottenham's No. 10.
Within minutes of his arrival, Kane had already released Nabil Bentaleb, whose shot was saved. But Spurs had a sense of direction, as if finding their compass. The route to goal was suddenly accessible and achievable.
It was, in essence, the story of Tottenham's season.
Pochettino cannot clone Kane, but he can't drop him either. If the kids are not all right yet, call in the cavalry.
This month's transfer window is always a lucky dip, like a blindfolded manager trying to pin the donkey with a chequebook. And value for money is unheard of.
But Pochettino isn't in the market for Kane's equal - because there isn't one - he just needs a satisfactory support act until the end of the season.
Chelsea's Loic Remy and West Brom's Saido Berahino are the rumoured targets and either would alleviate Kane's burden as the fixtures pile up.
Thanks to the FA Cup replay, Tottenham and Leicester will meet three times in 10 days, leaving Pochettino with an uncomfortable dilemma.
He needs a winning side and a refreshed Kane.
And he can't have both, unless he signs a second striker.
It was very important. We definitely didn’t want to go out of this competition in the third round and we’re still in there. You want to be playing all the time, especially when you’re watching it from the bench.
— Harry Kane, on the 2-2 draw with Leicester
BY THE NUMBERS
Leicester are the only team to deny Tottenham a perfect 10 wins from their last 10 FA Cup home games. The Foxes have won their previous meeting before yesterday morning’s draw.
- Cardiff 0 Shrewsbury 1
Spurs deserve to draw, says Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino insists his Tottenham side were not lucky to remain in the FA Cup as Harry Kane's controversial late penalty earned a third-round replay against Leicester.
Kane had started the match on the bench at White Hart Lane but was called upon as the Foxes looked to be on course for another famous victory in their impressive season.
Christian Eriksen had fired the hosts ahead on eight minutes before Marcin Wasilewski levelled and substitute Shinji Okazaki struck moments after coming on to turn the game - only for Kane to thrash home an 89th-minute penalty, and his 50th Tottenham goal, to secure a 2-2 draw.
Nathan Dyer conceded the untimely spot-kick having been adjudged to have handled the ball as Danny Rose broke into the Leicester penalty area. And Kane, who had not had a chance until that point, emphatically finished to set up a replay.
Asked if his side were lucky to get a replay, Pochettino (left) replied: "Lucky? No. You must never give up.
"I didn't see if it was or not. But sometimes the decisions are for you, sometimes they are against you. If I watch it again I can give a better opinion.
"It's true we are happy and very pleased to get the draw at the end. It's important for us to stay alive in the competition. But if we analyse, the first half, we deserved more. We dominated the whole game. But I'm happy. The performance was good. We have another chance."
The replay adds to an already congested month of fixtures but Pochettino has backed his squad to prove their strength in depth.
"It is tough for us and tough for them (Leicester)," he added.
"We need to be strong in our mind. We have a strong squad. Today showed that those not playing in the first team can fight for a place.
"It's complicated. It's tough to play Premier League, Europa League and cups. But it's for that we have a very strong squad and we made seven changes.
"We need to keep fit all the players, and motivated. It's a good thing to compete and that the squad believe everyone can compete for a consistent place in the team."
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri (right) said he is looking forward to the replay so he can give more minutes to those fringe players who came into the team here.
"Of course we are frustrated because our second half was very good, we were very calm and defended very well," he said.
"It is another match we will play and I'm very glad to give another chance to my eight players who aren't used to playing consistently.
"It is good for them and me to watch again because they didn't play since the last match we played in the League Cup. Eight new players (in the team) but I didn't see a big difference. They played very, very well." - PA Sport.