MARTIN KEOWN: Harry Kane can smash Thierry Henry and Kevin De Bruyne’s Premier


During lockdown, I caught up with Dennis Bergkamp on Zoom. We discussed what he used to do for Arsenal, and how he would start high but drop deep.

Defenders didn’t know whether to follow him – and risk leaving their fellow centre back alone with Thierry Henry – or let him drift into that space between the lines. ‘That was my little battle,’ Dennis told me.

Teddy Sheringham was one of my toughest opponents for this reason, too. He never played at the same pace as the match and would drop into difficult areas. If I go with him, I leave a hole in defence which Dwight Yorke could use to score. If I don’t, Sheringham is on his own. 

Forward Harry Kane (centre) has been a phenomenal provider for Tottenham so far this season

Forward Harry Kane (centre) has been a phenomenal provider for Tottenham so far this season

Martin Keown sees similarities in Kane and Dennis Bergkamp, his friend and former teammate

Martin Keown sees similarities in Kane and Dennis Bergkamp, his friend and former teammate

Seeing every Premier League team beaten just six games into this new season got me thinking about our Invincible days and how systems have evolved. The tactics we used in going unbeaten in 2003-04 have never been copied in full.

Most managers now prefer to use three up top. They also like an extra man in midfield, whereas we were able to rely on a fantastic pairing in Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva.

Arsene Wenger never overcomplicated things. He preferred to focus on how we’d play rather than the opposition.

We’d start with a 4-4-2 formation but that was fluid and could become 4-4-1-1 or 4-3-3 as we adapted to different situations. We knew how to create overloads and outnumber the opposition on the wings. Amid all this, Dennis was like our quarter-back, feeding those willing runners in front of him.

Keown thinks Kane can eclipse the assists total by another of his ex-teammates, Thierry Henry

Keown thinks Kane can eclipse the assists total by another of his ex-teammates, Thierry Henry

In 2003-04, he would have Henry, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg to pick out. In 1997-98, Ian Wright or Nicolas Anelka would be the striker, supported by roadrunner Marc Overmars and the underrated Ray Parlour coming inside from the wings.

What anyone who played with Dennis will say is that his service was outstanding. I’m now watching what Harry Kane is doing for Tottenham and, dare I say it, he is starting to remind me of my old team-mate.

I’m not saying Kane is as technically gifted as Dennis – I don’t think anybody is. But the quality of the balls I’m seeing from the Spurs striker, and the way he is finding Son Heung-min, it is Bergkampian.

He is starting high, dropping deep, and showing there is more to his game than merely scoring goals. With eight assists in six games, at this rate Kane would obliterate the Premier League record of 20, shared by Henry and Kevin De Bruyne.

We’ve seen what Roberto Firmino does for Liverpool – how he drops into those pockets of space and has willing runners in Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who start wide but come inside. 

Kane, likewise, has fast-paced forwards who he can pick out. That’s been Son of late – most notably in that 5-2 win over Southampton when Kane took advantage of the hosts’…



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