Nuno Espirito Santo insisted after Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday that his side needs to take advantage of Dele Alli’s ability to cover a lot of ground.
Alli’s stock has fallen considerably over the last few years, with the midfielder being a peripheral figure under Jose Mourinho last season.
The 25-year-old was deployed as the most advanced player in a three-man midfield by Nuno during much of pre-season and the Portuguese coach decided to stick with the same formula against City, with the England international playing ahead of two midfield pivots in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp.
Alli excelled in the role as he pressed the City midfielders very well, managing to win possession and set off counter-attacks on several occasions.
According to Opta Analyst, the former MK Dons man covered the most distance (11.06km) in the match while also averaging the highest speed (6.9 km/hr).
When asked about Alli’s new role, Nuno said in his post-match press conference (as relayed by Football.London): “Our job as managers is always to try to find the best solutions for the players, trying to create societies, tasks that the players can do to their full potential.
“Dele besides all the talent he has, is a runner, he is a runner. He has this ability to go from box to box and I think we as a team should take advantage of it.”
Spurs Web Opinion
When we were at our best under Pochettino, Dele was regularly the best presser in our team. So that is an aspect of his game that is underrated.
The midfielder also has the freedom to make late runs into the box in Nuno’s system, which is how he gets most of his goals.
However, I still have my doubts as to whether Dele will work in this role against low blocks as he does not quite have the quality on the ball to commit players and to open up defences.
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