Having fought off a limited but relatively well organised CSKA Moscow last night, many fans and pundits alike will be duly crediting Tottenham Hotspur and the way they managed last nights Champions League away game. However it wasn’t the perfect display, as the defence was left in some tricky situations by wayward passing and overall poor play in the midfield.
These errors were frailties within the game of Dele Alli, among other midfielders, but this wasn’t a one off.
Since the beginning of the 2016/17 Premier League season Dele Alli has been asked more often than he would have liked to play in the deeper midfield role. The lack of forward running and ability to push the team on, resulted in the deadline day purchase of Moussa Sissoko, who is known for his Dembele-esque running and power. This purchase would not have been made had the performances (of Dele Alli and other midfielders) shown Pochettino they can push the team forward in possession of the ball. Now, what has Dele specifically done wrong I hear you ask?
Dele Alli has failed to provide solid midfield partnership to any of the players he has stood alongside this season. Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield looks unbalanced when he has asked the 20 year old England International to play in the 2 behind his normal role below strikers Harry Kane or Vincent Janssen. In Tottenham’s first Champions League game, Alli left compatriot Eric Dier isolated against the pacey Bernardo Silva and Lemar. This lack of discipline and positional awareness has been and will be punished if he continues to play there in this way.
In addition, it has been noticed that often Dele Alli when competing against an opposition player looks more interested in ‘winning’ a foul for his team than beating the player and potentially creating or scoring a goal. This, alongside his tendency to try and play the clever flicks and passes more than the sensible passes has seen his performances this season decrease in quality. Aside from the Stoke City game, assists and goals have not been a part of the players game. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping his midfield is back to full strength soon so that Dele Alli can play where he wants. Has the fame and praise of last season got to his head? Is Dele Alli just frustrated with his manager changing his position? Or is he simply just young and out of form? Only time will tell.
To conclude, if Dele Alli is to reach the heights, or go beyond the success of last season at Tottenham Hotspur, he must remain behind the striker in the number 10 role. Also the player must focus on improving and simply playing the football every fan and pundit knows he is capable of. Mauricio Pochettino will be on his case no doubt about it. Tottenham fans will be hoping it will be soon they can sing again “We’ve got Alli, Dele Alli”
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