Premier League winners and losers: Kane, Falcao and more
Harry Kane and Southampton impress, while Radamel Falcao and Nigel Pearson have a weekend to forget
Harry Kane. Harry Kane can do no wrong. The Spurs striker is fast turning into Tottenham’s very own Roy of the Rovers after the 21-year-old celebrated his new long-term deal with a brace against Arsenal to turn the north London derby on its head. Kane showed his predatory instincts to finish from close range and cancel out Mesut Ozil’s 11th-minute opener, before he sparked wild celebrations at White Hart Lane with a header past Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina four minutes from time. Football experts and pundits were rushing to join an ever-growing queue to tip Kane as England’s future following the match-winning performance. The Tottenham talisman has scored 12 Premier League goals, which is the same tally as England’s front-line for their 3-1 victory over Scotland in November. A no brainer for Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson, then, particularly as Kane is starting to resemble England legend Alan Shearer.
Southampton. While Kane-inspired Tottenham gave their Champions League ambitions a healthy boost by beating one of their rivals, the real winners in the hunt for a top-four finish were Southampton. Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and West Ham United all dropped points over the weekend, handing the south coast club the initiative. For Louis van Gaal’s side, a draw was a pretty decent result after being outplayed by the Hammers for most of the clash before the Red Devils out-Allardyced Big Sam with the introduction of Marouane Fellaini. Despite Daley Blind’s added-time equaliser, United dropped down the table as the Saints reclaimed third spot thanks to victory at Loftus Road. Ronald Koeman’s side avoided a potential banana skin against a QPR side in disarray without a permanent manager. Sadio Mane netted a late winner to move Southampton to within four points of City. Talk of Spurs finishing above rivals Arsenal is all well and good, but the north London club need to worry about Southampton (as well as Liverpool and United).
Radamel Falcao. The Red Devils didn’t trouble West Ham until Fellaini’s introduction, which was a damning indictment of Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Van Gaal’s ineffectual tactics. So much was expected of Falcao when the Colombia international sealed a dramatic season-long loan move to United on deadline day last summer. However, the 28-year-old is being tipped for a return to Monaco at the end of the season, which would be a sobering thought for the striker after having terrorised Europe for the best part of three seasons before his season-ending knee injury last season. It has been almost five months since his return from the problem but the forward has shown no real progress regaining his sharpness in front of goal. The Premier League is becoming something of a graveyard for formerly great European strikers: Fernando Morientes, Andriy Schvechenko, Hernan Crespo, Robinho, Mateja Kezman and even Fernando Torres (although he moved to Chelsea from Liverpool) have all seen their reputations take a hit in England. Unless Falcao can find form in the next couple of months, he’ll be the latest addition to the past-it list.
Nigel Pearson and Leicester. It was a toss-up between Burnley and Leicester City for the final spot in this column. However, the Foxes edged the Clarets, who threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. Leicester, however, are in total disarray after Pearson was sacked (if you believe the British media), only to be handed a lifeline. It made for an uncomfortable pre-match media conference ahead of their trip to Arsenal, who will look to give Leicester the Villa treatment after a frustrating derby defeat. While Leicester are bottom of the table and three points adrift of 17th-placed Burnley, there is a sense this season’s relegation battle will go down to the wire. But the next couple of weeks could be difficult with vultures circling and trips to Arsenal and Everton before welcoming Chelsea and Manchester City. Pearson wasn’t helped by a bizarre clash with Palace midfielder James McArthur, appearing to grab the Scot by the neck.