The final few months of last season, along with the opening of this campaign saw most of the Tottenham Hotspur squad suffer from a dip in form. One of the most notable in that contingent was Dele Alli. His goal-scoring prowess from his first few seasons in North London had gone missing. He was also not connecting on most of his intricate flicks and passes he had become known for. Recently, Alli’s return to form has been the spark for Spurs after making the managerial change from the beloved Mauricio Pochettino to the infamous Jose Mourinho.
Dele Alli’s Return to Form
It’s been said that in his first training session as the new boss, Mourinho challenged Alli to play like the man that became an integral part of both Tottenham and England’s midfield plans. The 23-year-old has accepted his new manager’s challenge and has stepped his level of play up since. He had just five goals and three assists combined in 33 appearances across both the Premier League and Champion’s League a season ago. This was after averaging 12 goals and eight assists over the previous three Premier League campaigns. Spurs attack and results were both suffering, and need their young midfielder to get back to his best.
Down the Table
Dele Alli’s return to form came at the perfect time for Tottenham. They had fallen into the bottom half of the table after struggling over the season’s first few months. Spurs have now won four of their last five matches and climbed up to fifth in the table. Alli has three goals and three assists in those five contests. His finishing touch has finally returned. He is also once again making decisive runs and passes to open up opposing back lines. Tottenham have a crucial London derby upcoming against rival Chelsea. If they can continue their winning ways, the three points would move them up to fourth place.
One of the biggest keys to Alli’s return to form is a slight position switch since Mourinho has taken over. Due to his versatile skill set, and the presence of Christian Eriksen in the number ten role, Alli has played in multiple areas over the past few seasons. His best fit is in the middle, directly behind the striker. It’s here that he can utilize his well-timed runs an array of creative passes to push the Spurs attack forward. He is now back in that role, sitting in the middle behind Harry Kane. His production has gone up significantly since the move. Alli’s versatility is also still on display. He will drop back and put in the work to help his holding midfielders, and can still go out wide in attack especially on the counter.
His runs from midfield past opposing backlines have been a huge boost to Spurs. The connection between his movement and Toby Alderweireld’s long passes has resulted in multiple goals lately. The Belgian defender threaded two brilliant passes of over forty yards that helped set up his teammate’s brace in a win over Bournemouth. The first long ball fell to Heung-Min Son, who laid it off and the young England midfielder found the back of the net. The second pass found Alli streaking through the opposing backline. The 23-year-old chested the ball down, weaved around a defender and keeper before slotting it home.
The Christmas period is always a hectic one for Premier League clubs. There will be plenty of games over the coming weeks, and that means a chance to make big moves in the table. Spurs need to build off of their recent momentum and pile up goals and points as the New Year approaches. They scuffled to start the season, and as recent as a few weeks ago, looked possibly out of a top-four challenge. Now they are firmly back in that mix. Dele Alli’s return to his old self has been the catalyst to spark this run.