While Harry Kane’s thunderous shot off the Arsenal crossbar and into the back of the net will be what most Tottenham Hotspur fans will count as the forward’s most important contribution to Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal in the North London derby, his assist for Heung-Min Son was undoubtedly just as important.
The England striker has always been known for his tremendous goalscoring in the Premier League, but this season has instead offered Kane the opportunity to fill the role of the playmaker in Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side.
With nine assists in 11 league games, it seems to be working well. But how sustainable is Kane’s playmaking in this team and should Tottenham fans worry about it tailing off?
Kane's improved playmaking this season
When we look at Kane’s creative stats for this season there’s definitely room for optimism as the senior forward has shown a greater capacity to create goals rather than just score them.
For example, the 27-year old is currently averaging 1.5 accurate key passes per 90 in the Premier League this season. That average is much higher than his league average from 2018/19 (0.31) and 2019/20 (0.42), and suggested he’s basically setting up teammates to hit a shot at three times the rate he did last season.
The forward’s expected assists average has also jumped up this season too. In 2018/19 it stood at around 0.21 per 90, then last season it dropped to 0.1 per 90. Yet so far this season it has shot up to around 0.32 per 90. Like the player's key passing, it’s clear that Kane is spending far more time setting up players like Son rather than just trying to get on the end of moves.
However, while there’s plenty for Tottenham fans to enjoy about Kane’s game there should also be a degree of caution applied to his, quite frankly, obscene run of form at the moment.
Can he keep up this run of form?
While the forward’s xA average for this season has shot up to 0.33 P90, it is still nowhere near the 0.62 assists he’s actually averaging P90 in the Premier League this season.
A small part of that will be down to assists like the one Kane bagged on Sunday, when he essentially played Son through on the half-way line, before the South Korean international took advantage of some dreadful defending. On paper that was a very low xA, but still a full assist.
Kane's playmaking history
Yet, despite the odd move like that, Kane’s history in the competition suggests he doesn’t tend to outperform this metric. Last season he averaged 0.06 assists to 0.1 xA P90. The season before he averaged 0.14 assists to 0.21 xA P90. On both occasions his xA was higher than his real assists. This season that trend has been flipped on its head and currently shows the player vastly outperforming where he probably should be.
That’s not to say Kane won’t continue providing assists as Tottenham’s main playmaker and as long as he has Son in front of him then he may continue doing so with a relatively small xA P90 average. But it’s probably more like that the two averages will come closer and closer together as the season goes on and this purple patch of form that we’re seeing from the England forward right now may begin to tail off eventually.