Harry Kane uses old Arsenal excuse by complaining about Sunderland's combative style
Tottenham Hotspur have left themselves open to accusations they are morphing into local rivals Arsenal after Harry Kane complained about Sunderland’s combative style during a frustrating goalless draw on Wearside.
Arsenal were frequently mocked during the early part of Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager as they also used to accuse teams of being too rough whenever they travelled outside of London.
Kane, though, argued referee Lee Mason did not offer Spurs players enough “protection” from Sunderland’s deliberately physical approach at the Stadium of Light and suggested it is something match officials need to be aware of in the future.
Tottenham’s chief grievance was that Sunderland midfielder Jack Rodwell was fortunate to be only shown a yellow card for scything down Mousa Dembele with a knee-high tackle in the first half.
Nevertheless, critics will accuse Spurs of being too soft and Sunderland’s success will alert other Premier League clubs to the fact that, like Arsenal, Tottenham can be rattled by an aggressive, in your face performance.
“We need to be able to win games when we’re not at our best and you could say the other team were physical,” said Kane. “I think there were some decisions on that pitch that were very surprising.
“I think Mousa getting kicked knee-high on the pitch… If you go up to anyone on the pitch and kick them knee-height on purpose, it doesn’t matter if it’s a ‘tactical foul’, let’s say, it’s a red card.
“There’s another one. Sonny’s got a big gash going down his shin where the guy’s kicked the ball and followed through onto his shin. Yes, it’s physical, but then I think we have to be protected as well, so obviously we’re disappointed from that side of it. It was a disappointing night.
“He [the referee] obviously just saw [Rodwell's challenge] as a tactical foul, but I think we all know a pull on the shirt or a trip on the foot or the shin even [is one thing]. But kicking someone knee-height on purpose like that, I think it’s a dangerous tackle and for me I think it’s definitely a red card.
“Maybe that got under our skin, it’s frustrating. We were trying to play our game, but look, it’s football. We’re disappointed that we probably didn’t play well enough on the night anyway. It’s one of those things, we can’t do anything about it now.
“We’ve got another important game at the weekend. Arsenal and Chelsea play each other as well so one, or both of them, might drop points and we’ve got to be ready to capitalise.”
Asked whether teams might replicate Sunderland’s approach now they have seen how it can knock Tottenham out of their stride, Kane replied: “Yeah, teams can do that, but I still think it’s down to us to play better as well. We didn’t play as well as we have done in recent weeks, we know that.
“But it’s just an observation, that I think most people watching that game, or seeing that challenge, would agree with us.”