After being left out in the cold for a number of months, the ‘clear the air’ talks between Dele and Mourinho have resulted in the attacking midfielders getting some much-needed minutes this week.
He started against Wolfsberger in the Europa League last Thursday, was given eighteen minutes in the league against West Ham and then started again in the second leg against the Austrian side. So how did Dele fare?
Against Wolfsburger, Alli played as well as most other players. The attacking outfit was on fire in the first half, and Alli played his part in that.
In particular, a neat nutmeg on one of the opposition defenders nearly resulted in the Englishman grabbing a goal himself.
Along with the rest of the side, he went slightly off the boil in the second half, but it was nonetheless a promising performance in a season where he has been given precious few minutes in any competition.
Some were calling for Alli, as well as Gareth Bale, to be rewarded with starts against West Ham, due to their impressive performances a few days earlier.
However, he was assigned a place on the bench again on Sunday, and, like Bale, was only called for when the team were in dire straits and needed to mount a comeback.
I’m afraid that his performance against West Ham told us all we needed to know about whether he still has a place in this team.
Gareth Bale has been widely criticised for his apparent lack of desire to still play at the highest level in recent weeks. After the FA Cup defeat to Everton, Mourinho seemed to question Bale’s motivation to play.
More recently, his agent’s comments about how Bale is nearing the end of his career seemed rather concerning, given that Spurs fans are universally willing the Welshman to recapture his form of old.
But Alli and Bale’s performances against West Ham could not have been more different. Admittedly, Bale had much more game time in which to exert his influence.
But he grabbed the bull by the horns from the off, spraying passes, putting in decent crosses, and nearly scoring himself with a brilliant effort that clipped the bar.
It was refreshing to see someone take responsibility and to attempt to rouse the team single-handedly.
However, Alli’s cameo was much less memorable. He didn’t get up to the pace of the match and, as has been so common over the past eighteen months with the attacking midfielder, he was ponderous on the ball, which resulted in him losing it in poor situations.
Even when time was running out, Alli tried one of his trademark blind ‘flicks’ which, as usual, did not come off.
Given that the Spurs boss openly criticised Alli for doing this exact thing a couple of months ago, one would have assumed that Dele would attempt to simplify his game in order to gain the trust of his manager.
Fortunately for Dele, he was granted another opportunity to shine against lesser opposition before the week was over as Wolfsberger made the trip to North London.
This time, Alli was the undisputed star of the show, scoring an incredible bicycle kick and assisting another two goals for Carlos Vinicius and Gareth Bale.
As Bale did against West Ham, the English midfielder took the game by the scruff of the neck and won it single-handedly, albeit against a weak Wolfsberger side.
The next step for Dele is making an impact off the bench in the Premier League. If he can take that step against Burnley this week, he could find himself knocking on the door of some league starts in the near future.
I have my fingers crossed.
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