The absence of one England forward at Goodison Park only accentuated the ineffectiveness of the other on the pitch.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin hasn’t played a minute of Premier League football since the end of August, yet he has still scored more goals than Harry Kane – or more accurately, what is shaping up as a C-rate tribute act to the Tottenham striker.
Antonio Conte realised the scale of his renovation job on Sunday, and circled the attacking output of his new side as a chief concern. The entire offensive approach – how to transition quickly, switches of play, use of width, exploiting the half-spaces, being more direct and crafting phases of build-up – will need to be constructed on the training pitches over the international break.
But the Italian will not have the luxury of remedying perhaps the biggest on-pitch concern: the nothingness of Kane.
England’s captain will be away on national team duty – a consequence of his past contributions for club and country rather than his off-coloured reality.
Kane, who very publicly wanted to depart for Manchester City in the summer and still seems to be dealing with the after-effects of the move falling through, has drastically faded.
His shot numbers, touches in the opposition box, key passes and all offensive metrics are severely below his average for this stage of a campaign.
While the 28-year-old was more involved against Everton – in the first half anyway – than during any point under Nuno Espirito Santo, his lack of speed, movement, and effectiveness in possession was alarming.
Kane’s strength in duels is also currently a memory: he contested 11 of them on Sunday and won just 36%.
The striker’s average position was as deep as Allan’s for Everton and, beyond one created chance with a right-wing cross, he offered nothing to the midfield that he resided in nor to the attack he was meant to be powering.
Kane completed one pass in the box and a lowly total of nine in the attacking third. He made just seven sprints, and what none of these numbers describe is the detrimental impact on Son Heung-Min’s game.
The South Korean has been stunted, and it is hard to argue with great conviction that both he and Spurs haven’t performed with more clarity and purpose in attack without Kane this season.
Tottenham’s marksman insists he is not worried about his form and is certain Conte can improve him.
The new manager is revered for his magic touch in rejuvenating and enhancing players. If he is able to achieve that with this version of Kane, it would rank among his most important and spellbinding feats.
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