Tottenham’s 2-0 win over league leaders Chelsea was a statement game for the north London side. Not only did Spurs put a halt to Chelsea’s formidable win streak, but they launched themselves back into the title race. Thanks in large part to the club’s 20-year-old attacking midfielder, Dele Alli, Spurs are enjoying their best run of the season.
Early in the campaign, Tottenham had trouble scoring. We even asked the question if Tottenham scored enough to win the Premier League. In the first nine games of the year, the London side only scored 13 goals. They averaged 1.4 goals a game up to that point, well below the average for most title winners. To be fair, Spurs did have to deal with players like Harry Kane missing time with injuries. Regardless, their recent form has been a tremendous improvement, and Alli has been at the heart of their goal-scoring resurgence.
Alli has scored seven goals in the team’s last five Premier League matches. It’s unlikely that Alli will be able to sustain that level of production but as a whole, it’s inspired his team to pick up the pace. After averaging 1.4 goals per game after their first 13, Spurs boosted their tally to 2.04 goals per game. It took Tottenham only eight matches to boost their average over half a goal per match.
Since Mauricio Pochettino moved to a three at the back formation it’s allowed a player like Alli to push further up the field. Pochettino seems to want to get Alli in as many dangerous goal scoring positions as possible. Operating alongside someone like Kane gives opposing defenders fits if both players are on their game. Between the two attackers, they’ve racked up 23 goals.
Seeing Alli lead Tottenham back into a title race is impressive when you consider he’s still only 20. Alli is the youngest Englishman in Premier League history to score 20 goals. His first 50 games in the league is also rather impressive considering he’s scored more and assisted more than either Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard did at this stage in their career.
Tottenham will be hoping that their young England international continues to grow ahead of the curve set by the likes of Gerrard and Lampard, but for now, their priority is this season. The win against Chelsea makes for an interesting comparison to Spurs’ 2-0 win over Manchester City earlier this season. Both wins came against teams on impressive win streaks, but what followed is where we might see how different of a team Tottenham have become.
Being 20 comes with it a tendency to be brash, and Alli showed as much in the game immediately after the 2-0 against Manchester City. In a 1-1 draw with West Brom, Alli had a run in with Claudio Yacob. The Englishman threw a punch and was subsequently banned for three matches. Spurs didn’t win again for a month.
After the Chelsea win, Spurs would once again face West Brom, but instead of a frustrating 1-1 draw, the London side would bash the Baggies 4-0. In that win, Alli went for a different kind of knockout when he provided Harry Kane with a stunning assist to score the fourth and final goal in a convincing win.
Tottenham now travels to Manchester to take on City once more. Alli will play an important role in Saturday’s big clash. His maturity in the recent weeks has surely pleased his coach. But his frequent ability to put the ball in the net is what has thrown his team back into title contention. Spurs have now won six league matches in succession. There is no reason Tottenham can’t keep that streak alive against a struggling City side that can’t seem to keep the ball out of the net.
Alli already has an impressive resume for a 20-year-old. He’s grown nicely as a player this year and has seemingly learned from mistakes as the season has progressed. In fact, one more goal and he’ll set a career best in a single campaign. That would be a nice achievement, but winning the Leauge would be ideal. Tottenham will need to get the best out of Alli to make that happen, but their hopeful he’ matured enough to make that happen.