Tottenham: Kane’s relentless shooting is as impressive as his scoring

Harry Kane on the scoresheet is an expectation.

Droughts – other than in August – do not exist in the world of Harry Kane. A reliable, ‘yep, it’s him again’ scorer for club and country. Facing a minnow in the FA Cup or with the attention of the world in the Champions League, Kane scores. It’s just what he does.

One player in Europe’s top five leagues averages more shots per match than Kane, which happens to be Cristiano Ronaldo. The reigning World Player of the Year has scored 10 fewer league goals than the Englishman this term.

Ronaldo is at 6.8, Kane at 5.8 and the next closest is Lionel Messi at 5.7. Beyond that, everyone is below five shots per match. (Per

This is partly that Kane has earned the right to shoot-on-sight. Europe’s top marksmen tend to have that freedom.

Mauricio Pochettino is as responsible for that as Kane, and he benefits from being by far the primary goal threat in this Spurs side. The other ‘elite’ strikers in Europe are a way off the Tottenham star in shots per match, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez not even the highest shot-takers in their own teams.

That’s natural when they play with Neymar and Messi respectively, and it could be argued that it makes Cavani’s lofty goal tally even more remarkable. Cavani’s non-penalty xG per 90 is lower as you would expect with so many fewer shots, but Kane’s high shot quantity is not because he his settling for low-percentage efforts regularly.

Player NPxGP90
Luis Suarez 0.9
Cristiano Ronaldo 0.83
Harry Kane 0.82
Robert Lewandowski 0.82
Edinson Cavani 0.74

To give these numbers some context, no Serie A player with over 600 league minutes rates over 0.58, and that’s Patrick Cutrone who has only notched 922 minutes. Edin Dzeko – who shoots more frequently than anyone other than Ronaldo, Kane and Messi – is at 0.57.  

Ronaldo shoots on average once per match more often than Kane. Lewandowski shoots on average 2.5 less per match than Ronaldo. Okay, we knew that Ronaldo shoots a lot.

Lewandowski is averaging a league goal every 88.05 minutes this season, which inches him ahead of Kane at 96.58.

Suarez is marginally off the Premier League’s current topscorer scoring once every 98.65 minutes. The Uruguayan’s high NPxGP90 despite much lower shot numbers is in part because of Messi.

You are less likely to settle for low-quality chances when Messi is on the pitch. Suarez also benefits from the defensive attention being drawn to the Argentinian with his mazy dribbles into danger areas. Something Lewandowski and Kane do not have.

Kane is far from a selective shooter, but that’s okay. For now, at least, that’s satisfactory as Tottenham are geared for their talisman to shoot as much as he does. Their chance creation – primarily through Christian Eriksen – is all honed towards getting him several shots per game.

His movement and evasion of opposition defenders to shoot as frequently as he does is a skill itself. Shooting a lot is a prerequisite for high-scoring players. Kane may have to be more selective as his career develops, but in this Spurs team right now what he is doing is great.

Spurs are not going to create the same number of clear chances as Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich. At times that means that he is settling for a less-favourable opportunity, and that’s okay.

The end result is still the same. He is scoring at a rate similar to the best strikers in the world. It’s no accident.

Spurs benefit from his approach. Kane is not riding a wave of converting absurd long shots. This rate of shooting and scoring is sustainable. Getting the shots is every bit as important as coolly finishing the one-on-ones, and Kane is up there with the very best forwards in the world in both departments.  

Shot conversion does not necessarily matter. Kane will always rank poorly, but while he’s shooting over 5 times per match and winning the golden boot I doubt Mauricio Pochettino will be too fussed.


Written by Sam Cox

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_

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