Antonio Conte believes that Tottenham striker Harry Kane can prove himself to be one of the best “in history” as the England captain’s resurgent form continues to buoy his club in the race for a Premier League top-four finish.
Spurs travel to Aston Villa this weekend in the top-flight, powered by the Three Lions skipper as he continues to motor through a purple patch of form for club and country.
It is a far-removed cry from the player who struggled to settle back in after the heartbreak of Euro 2020 and a prolonged transfer saga last summer, and Conte believes that now is the time for the attacker to show why he can go down as one of the greats.
“I think Harry Kane deserves an important position in the world of football,” the Italian stated. “Harry is of the right age to show that he can be one of the best in the world, and also in history. He is already doing that, because he has scored a lot of goals for the club and for the national team, and he is their captain.
“He has the right age to consolidate and to be one of the best in the world and for sure, his role is not a typical role because he is a No 9 but can also become a No 10 because of his quality. He can put the ball wherever he wants, and we try to exploit this aspect and try to make the most of what he can do.”
Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, will hope to buck the trend after three losses on the bounce since their demolition job on Leeds United at the start of March, with the former Liverpool favourite adding his side must discover whether they can compete across the full game.
“(Saturday) gives us an opportunity to try to come out of the blocks quicker and try to find a performance over 90 minutes,” he added. “That’s what we need if we’re to find the outcome we want.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins
The England international will hope his form in front of goal earns him a place on the plane to Qatar 2022, even if his club can’t quite match his yield. Watkins has scored in and lost eight Premier League matches since the start of last season, the most of any player, with only Gareth Barry (12) and Christian Benteke (9) have scoring in and losing more Villa matches in the Premier League.
Tottenham – Song Heung-min
The South Korean star continues to remain a standout attacking performer in north London, particularly in tandem with Harry Kane. Son has scored and assisted in 20 Premier League matches for Spurs – since his debut, only Mohamed Salah (23 games) has done so more often. In addition, he has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 16 Premier League appearances (10 goals, 5 assists).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Aston Villa have won just two of their last 20 Premier League games against Spurs (D3 L15), both away from home in April 2015 and May 2021. Their last victory against them at Villa Park was in January 2008.
– Tottenham have won their last six Premier League away games against Aston Villa. Only against the Villans themselves have they had a longer winning away run in their league history (7 between 1950 and 1956).
– Aston Villa have lost their last three Premier League matches, losing each game by a one-goal margin. Indeed, the Villans have lost 12 matches by one goal this season, more than any other side.
– Tottenham Hotspur have scored 21 goals in their last six Premier League matches (W5 L1), scoring four or more goals in three of those games (4-0 vs Leeds, 5-0 vs Everton, 5-1 vs Newcastle). It’s the first time Spurs have scored 21 times in the space of six top-flight games since a run between April and September 1965.
– Aston Villa have won just four of their last 30 Premier League matches in April (D9 L17) and have lost nine of their last 11 games in the month (W1 D1) – their one win was a 3-1 home victory over Fulham last year.