Tottenham: Dele Alli Did his Job and Executed the Plan

Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Dele Alli (L) November 26, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN KINGTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Dele Alli (L) November 26, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN KINGTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur got a convincing 4-0 victory over Ludogorets in Europa League on Thursday night, a big part of that victory was Dele Alli who played well.

Dele Alli finally got a chance to play again for Tottenham Hotspur and fortunately for Alli and for Tottenham he took full advantage of it. HotspurHQ constructed a 5-point plan for Dele to impress, so how did he do in comparison to our 5-points and what is next for the Spurs midfielder.

Dele Did Defend

Our first point on the plan was for Dele to defend and do so with conviction. On Thursday evening from the opening minute Dele worked on defense. Of course, his first need to work on defense was from a poor first touch, but Dele immediately hustled over and won the ball back to ensure Tottenham had possession. This was the first of several examples of Dele working to play strong, team defense.

At 22 minutes, it was Lucas’ turn to lose the ball and it was again Dele Alli hustling to get the ball back for Tottenham to maintain possession and build on the then 1 goal lead. Dele had one other interception to add to his recoveries in the match and managed to win a couple of balls in the air. While Dele will never be center back material, he did his job of hustling and working to defend as a team. In a Jose Mourinho side, it is defense first, even for the offense.

Fundamentally Sound Football

Dele Alli alternatively looked rusty and looked terrific. His first touch was not great with two or three poor first touches. However, his second and third touches were often class and Dele played smart football on the night. Sure, he tried a couple of flicks, but by and large, Dele managed to get on the ball, turn, and face the defense, which is exactly what you want your attacking playmakers to do.

Dele did not make a great pass on the first goal, but it worked out. On the second goal, his vision and awareness to see Vinicius and deliver the ball was excellent, then Vinicius slammed it home. On the final goal of the night, it was again Dele hustling on the play to get to the ball to deliver an excellent cross in to Vinicius.  We had asked for Dele to not be lazy with the ball and he did not disappoint.

Making the Runs

Dele Alli did not make a ton of runs during the match, this was one area in our 5-point plan that did not quite pan out. He tried to make a run early in the match, but the ball was not delivered, and he dropped back into space. Most of the evening Dele was a target man, checking to the ball, receiving it, and then playing it back or turning to face the defense.

The truth of the matter is that Ludogorets played so deep, particularly after the first goal, that it was nearly impossible to get behind them. Instead Tottenham had to work their way over and through the Bulgarian side with crisp, quick passing, not so much the movement we have seen in other games. Thus, while we did not see the movement from Dele we really want to see, the opportunities for that movement were extremely limited but Dele did his part in the passing game to create space.

Playing Hard and Positive for the Badge

There were a couple of times in the match where Dele and Vinicius were not quite on the same page with the press, but no fuss was made. Dele took his share of lumps during the game and except for one particularly tough non-foul he took outside the box, he always just jumped back up and got back to work. On that play he just took a bit longer, but did not complain.

Dele was positive throughout the evening, not looking to the ref for calls, but just putting his head down and working hard, on and off the ball. Whether it was chasing down a loose ball, working to win back possession or pushing to pressure Ludogorets Dele was active and going after it. While he has been better overall offensively, his overall activity was exactly what was needed.

Tottenham Got Dele Thursday

The biggest point for Dele Alli is to be Dele Alli and we started to see that again at times on Thursday. The assist was so Dele when it seemed he could score he set up a teammate to perfection. Just before that goal, Dele had played a pretty chip up that Ben Davies then stung off the post.

On this play Dele checked to the midfield and got the ball outside the penalty box semi-circle. Dele turned and kind of stood on the ball as defenders went to their back foot. As a couple mini movements occurred in front of him, Dele scooped a chip up and over everyone to Davies on the left. While Davies did not score, it was the kind of creative work with the ball that makes Dele special and was good to see.

Alli did seem to tire a bit in his first meaningful minutes in almost a month and was not as active or productive in the second half. However, he did jump on the loose ball and send in the cross to set up Vinicius, who played in Lucas for the final goal. As Harvey White came on for Dele at 81 minutes there were as many smiles coming on as going off.

With a smile on his face and 80 good minutes under his belt, Dele has started down the right path for Mourinho and for Spurs. Hopefully, this can continue, and we can all benefit. From here, it is up to Dele to string several of these performances together, because as we know there is a lot of competition at Spurs, but also a lot of games, so Dele – like everyone else – needs to be ready.