BURNLEY, England — Tottenham Hotspur are a tough team to define under Jose Mourinho — rampant one game, defensively-naïve the next and there are also more questions than answers right now when it comes to Gareth Bale and Dele Alli.
But there is one certainty with Spurs and that is the unerring ability if Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane to deliver when Mourinho’s side needs a goal.
Just as Monday’s trip to Burnley appeared to be heading for a dismal 0-0 draw, the Kane-Son double-act struck again to seal a 1-0 victory and extend Tottenham’s 100% run away from home this season to five straight wins.
Spurs had scored 16 goals in four road trips prior to the visit to Turf Moor, hitting Manchester United for six and putting five past Southampton during that run, but Son’s 76th minute header was enough to clinch a win that leaves Burnley marooned in the bottom three with just one point from five games.
And once again, the goal came courtesy of a Kane assist, with the England captain heading on Erik Lamela’s corner for Son to head home from six yards.
It is the 13 Premier League goal between Kane and Son in six games this season.
“Me and Sonny have had a nice little partnership going recently and hopefully it continues,” Kane said after the game. “It was not an amazing assist but it fell well for Sonny and 1-0 away to Burnley is a fantastic result.”
It was Kane’s eighth assist of the season — twice as many as his closest rival, Aston Villa’s John McGinn — and was the 29th time that he and Son had combined for a Premier League goal. Only Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba have more in Premier League history, with the former Chelsea pair racking up 36 goal combinations during their time together at Stamford Bridge.
Many of those goals would have come under Mourinho during his first spell in charge at Chelsea, so the Spurs boss will know the value of having two attacking players in his team who seemingly always know where the other will be when the goal is in sight.
Lampard and Drogba helped Mourinho’s Chelsea win everything in England. Whether Spurs can be quite as dominant as that Chelsea side remains to be seen, but with Kane and Son in his side, Mourinho knows that they will at least be competitive.
And in a rare display magnanimity, Mourinho credited his predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino, with laying the foundations of the Son-Kane partnership.
“It is an understanding that comes from Maurcio’s time,” Mourinho said. “I don’t want all the credit myself, let’s share with Mauricio. They play together for a long time, probably a different way because Harry is not always a No. 9 now.
“What pleases me more about them both is that they are two top players but close friends, no jealousy, they both play for the team. Credit to them, two great players, two great boys.”
The modern game has moved away from the strike pairings of old, with coaches preferring to operate with a fluid front three rather than two forwards who dominate the attacking third.
But when two strikers click, they can be devastating and impossible to stop. Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton — nicknamed the SAS — scored 49 league goals between them when Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League title in 1994-95 while Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole scored 53 goals as a partnership to help Manchester United to the Treble in 1998-99.
Kane and Son are good enough to eclipse the tallies of both Sutton and Shearer and Yorke and Cole because they offer completely different qualities.
Son has pace, exceptional movement and nerveless finishing ability, while Kane is strong, powerful in the air and able to score from distance and close range.
Keeping them fit, Kane in particular, is the challenge that Mourinho must overcome, but if either player is struck down by injury, Spurs can at least count on Bale and maybe even Alli to plug the gaps.
Bale has managed just 18 minutes in the Premier League since returning to the club from Real Madrid last month and he spent the entire 90 minutes on the bench at Burnley.
At 31, and with a chequered fitness record, Bale is being carefully-managed right now, so he will come to the party at some point and is a proven goalscorer when fit and able to play.
The same applies to Alli, but he was nowhere to be seen at Turf Moor, with the former England player left out of the squad once again by Mourinho, who said at the weekend, ‘It’s about him, It’s not about me,” when asked about Alli’s repeated absences this season. “If the player is not motivated we can’t do much.”
Alli is too good a player to be cast aside for too long, but right now, he is having to sit on the outside, looking in, as Kane and Son perform like players at their peak.
And while they continue to do so, Spurs will be contenders to finish in the top four at the very least this season.