That Pochettino’s latest dip at the weekend into his newly acquired party bag of tactics was successful hinged largely on the disciplined, mature and skilful performance of Dele Alli.
With no Dier, Wanyama or Dembélé, the trio of Dele, Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen were given the responsibility of protecting the back line whilst looking for opportunities to launch Son and Kane forward at Liverpool’s clownlike defence, the whole time purposely conceding possession – most un-Pochettino like behaviour.
Aside from his vial volleyed goal, from memory three Dele-cious moments stand out. At 2-0 (I think) the ball came quickly to him from a Liverpool defender whilst he was under pressure in his own half near the centre circle. In a flash he had controlled the ball on his chest and as it dropped, on the half volley, curled a twenty yard pass forward with the outside of his right boot directly into the path of Kane and once again caught the away defence on the turn and haring back towards their own goal. It was instinctive and brilliant.
In the second half Salah and Milner were in possession in a dangerous position in front of what was left of their own fans (many had headed for the exits after Kane’s second). Alli hassled Salah and the ball broke free, now running towards his own goal line Dele checked over his shoulder then with a sharp backheel perfectly bisected the Liverpool pair to once more allow Harry to turn and carry the ball upfield towards the terrified red back line. It was dangerous thing to do given his position on the field but it was full of imagination and skill, perfectly executed and never in doubt.
Finally, with about 15 minutes to go and the Liverpool side doing the equivalent of glassy-eyed rocking back and forth, Alli was being closed down by Can in a similar spot to where he’d carried out his outrageous back heel. One quick swivel and flash of his feet and the current German international (let’s not forget) had been nutmegged and was left clawing at the space behind a speeding away Dele in an attempt to haul him back not just within range of a tackle but back out of the stratosphere and down into his own world of what’s possible and what not. It was like a magician toying with a frustrated volunteer from the audience.
The focus post match has of course been on men of the moment Kane and Pochettino (and Lovren), Alli’s contribution to the emphatic win should not be underplayed or forgotten, it was a reminder of what an outstanding footballer he is.
Have something to tell us about this article?