London (AFP) – Harry Kane will look to cement his status as a Tottenham Hotspur hero when the club face arch-rivals Arsenal in the North London derby at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Modern-day players are often accused of having no feeling for the importance of English football’s traditional showpiece matches but that cannot be said of Kane.
The 21-year-old forward is currently ‘living the dream’ of many a fan by playing for the club has supported since boyhood and he is also in superb form.
Kane, who has scored 20 goals in 33 Spurs appearances so far this season, is the leading scorer in English football’s top flight and he endeared himself further to the White Hart Lane faithful by signing a new five-and-a-half-year contract this week.
That’s not all. Given a choice, Kane would like to join a select band of one-club men by spending his whole career with Tottenham.
“I don’t see why not,” Kane told the London Evening Standard. “Tottenham are a great club on the rise.
“If I’m still here in 10 years, I’d be over the moon.”
Saturday’s game has been given an extra edge by the fact both clubs are pushing for a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League.
Both teams are in good shape, with Tottenham having lost only once in their last nine league games and fifth-placed Arsenal only once in their last eight.
London isn’t the only city staging a derby on Saturday, with Liverpool making the short trip to Everton’s Goodison Park.
– Banter –
Liverpool have climbed to within four points of the Champions League places with a haul of 16 points from a possible 18.
If that was not enough of an incentive to stay on the same path, Saturday’s match will be Liverpool great Steven Gerrard’s last Merseyside derby before he leaves Anfield for the Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the campaign.
The 34-year-old, who made his 700th appearance for the club in Wednesday’s 2-1 FA Cup win at Bolton Wanderers, knows all about the peculiar pressures of derby day and does not expect the stick he gets from Everton fans to end when he finally leaves Liverpool.
“I doubt it very much,” he said. “I love the banter with Everton fans. It’s what it’s all about.”
Chelsea and second-place Manchester City, currently separated by five points, both face apparently straightforward fixtures.
The leaders, who held City to a 1-1 draw last weekend, visit Aston Villa, who have gone eight games without a win and not scored in over 10 hours of league football, while champions City travel to third-bottom Hull.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, unhappy at what he saw as the media’s role in Diego Costa’s three-game ban for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can, ended his self-imposed news blackout with a surly press conference on Friday.
By then Blues midfielder Willian had lifted the lid on the Portuguese boss’s ‘siege mentality’ tactics, which include allegations of a conspiracy to do down Chelsea.
“Jose Mourinho talks with us a lot. I think he says these things, that there is an agenda against Chelsea, to protect us as a group,” the Brazil international said.
Manchester United, a point above Southampton in third place, visit West Ham.
United’s form dipped around the turn of the year as they won only once in five league games, but successive wins over Leicester City and Cambridge United, in the FA Cup, have revitalised Louis van Gaal’s side.
Southampton’s top-four bid was hit by a 1-0 loss to Swansea City last weekend and on Saturday they visit second-bottom Queens Park Rangers, who are without a manager following Harry Redknapp’s resignation
Saturday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated):
Aston Villa v Chelsea, Everton v Liverpool (1730 GMT), Leicester City v Crystal Palace, Manchester City v Hull City, Queens Park Rangers v Southampton, Swansea City v Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal (1245 GMT)