Time for snipers Kane and Aguero to hit the target
Time for last season's deadly duo to end drought
TOTTENHAM v MAN CITY
(Tonight, 7.45pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
The leading strikers are not leading the striking charts.
Last season's assassins are suddenly impotent, firing more blanks than a nervous National Service rookie.
In the previous Premier League campaign, 109 goals were shared among six shooters. They didn't just prevail. They plundered.
Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard and Wayne Rooney divided the goals and conquered the charts. They showed the eye of a sniper. They rarely missed.
This time around, they are lumbered with the eye of Long John Silver. And the patch appears to be over the wrong eye.
They have only three goals among them after six games and the statistics are particularly damning for Kane.
Five hundred and 14 minutes have elapsed without the Tottenham striker finding the net.
Aguero has fared little better, with a solitary goal from 15 shots.
Last season, he'd netted four times from 16 shots after six games. And he's playing in a new and improved Manchester City outfit this time around.
Tonight, the pair meet at White Hart Lane. Both are falling short of expectations. A plateau has followed last season's peak.
Aguero's troubles are perhaps less pronounced. His early goal against Chelsea, expertly taken, bore the hallmarks of a well-rested hitman after his Copa America assertions.
But that was as good as it got. Against West Ham, Kun Aguero fired off four shots, but he faced an inspired Adrian and the immovable object of Lady Luck.
But the silver lining ironically came in David Silva's absence. Until his injury, the impudent Spaniard's tendency to cut inside inevitably forced Aguero in the opposite direction in search of reverse passes.
Silva's absence against West Ham, on the other hand, introduced Aguero to a Belgian with an insatiable appetite for blunt, direct attack.
Silva is pretty, but Kevin de Bruyne brings power. Aguero requires a healthy dose of both to reignite a stalling campaign.
But the clock's ticking. Wilfried Bony continues to fail more auditions than a tone-deaf singer, so the support acts of de Bruyne, Yaya Toure and even Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany have shouldered the responsibility.
But City need Aguero against Spurs tonight.
It's a similar story on the other side of the pitch.
Tottenham are teetering on the brink of a positive campaign, teasing their long-suffering fans with some early-season promise.
Son Heung Min has blended in seamlessly with Delle Alli, while Christian Eriksen is slowly remembering that he's a potential match-winner rather than an infuriating bench-warmer.
But Kane is the concern. The kid who couldn't stop doing the hot shoe shuffle last season has suddenly got cold feet.
Fatigue is supposedly a factor, as his European Championship campaign with England's Under-21s finished on June 24. But Lionel Messi played in the Copa America final in July and already has three goals in four Barcelona matches.
In truth, Kane finds himself a victim of England's great white hope obsession.
Tottenham are in transition (all right, they've been in transition for three years now) but, if Son, Alli and Eriksen can sustain their service, Kane must deliver, not only for the sake of his club, but also for the EPL.
The unfamiliar faces leading the scoring charts amplify what an underwhelming start it's been to the season.
No disrespect to Leicester's Riyad Mahrez and Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, who fully deserve the spotlight after knocking in five goals apiece, but their lofty position underline the Premier League's drift towards mediocrity.
The big guns are just not firing.
Kane, Aguero, Costa, Sanchez, Hazard and Rooney are all off target when it's business as usual with Europe's class acts.
Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller has six in five games. His teammate Robert Lewandowski scored five in nine minutes against Wolfsburg.
Cristiano Ronaldo took a little longer, but repeated the five-goal trick again Espanyol.
In comparison, the Premier League's pretenders are comatose.
So, wake up, Kane and Aguero, before alarm bells start ringing.
- Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
- Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
- Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea)
- Odion Ighalo (Watford)
- Graziano Pelle (Southampton)
- Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
- Andre Ayew (Swansea)
- Anthony Martial (Man United)
- Russell Martin (Norwich)
- Steven Naismith (Everton)
- Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
- Leicester v Arsenal
- Liverpool v Aston Villa
- Man United v Sunderland
- Southampton v Swansea
- Stoke v Bournemouth
- West Ham v Norwich
- 12.30am: Newcastle v Chelsea
- 11pm: Watford v Crystal Palace
- 3am: WBA v Everton
Sterling, De Bruyne hitting it off
TNP INFOGRAPHICS: TEOH YI CHIE
It was only their second outing together, but Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne were already tearing their opponents to shreds.
Both new signings, who cost City a combined £103m ($223m), shone in combination too, as the Citizens mauled Sunderland 4-1 in their League Cup third-round tie on Tuesday.
Sterling set de Bruyne on his way with a one two in the 25th minute, putting through the Belgian to blast past Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone from an angle (see top graphic).
Eleven minutes later, the duo swopped positions, as Sterling puts away de Bruyne’s throughball (see graphic above).
City captain Yaya Toure feels there is more to come from them once the duo are fully integrated.
He said: “In Africa, we say it is like mayonnaise — you all blend together.
“It is difficult at the moment because we have just bought players such as de Bruyne and Sterling.
“We need to make sure they feel part of the team.”