While Harry Kane may have grabbed the headlines on Boxing Day for yet another hat-trick that made him the Premier League’s all-time top scorer in a single calendar year, and pushed his 2017 return beyond that of a certain Lionel Messi, Mauricio Pochettino will likely have been more delighted to see Dele Alli put in the kind of performance he was synonymous with during his first two seasons with Tottenham Hotspur.
The first half of 2017/18 hasn’t been a hugely enjoyable one for the attacking midfielder, coming under the spotlight for dangerous tackles, theatrical simulation and swearing at Kyle Walker on international duty, while struggling for top form amid the backdrop of changing agents.
But 2018 represents something of a chance for the England ace to turn a corner and judging by his Boxing Day performance against Southampton, Alli already has in time for the new year.
In addition to netting arguably the best finish of the match with a delicate side foot into the inside of the post, he supplied Heung-min Son and Harry Kane for Tottenham’s fourth and fifth goals respectively with perfectly timed passes, while his subtle ball through the defence allowed Christian Eriksen an easy cross to assist Kane’s second of the afternoon.
It must be said that Southampton didn’t put up too much resistance at Wembley, allowing Tottenham to control the match from the opening whistle. But it was nonetheless an impressive individual display from Alli that suggests the struggles of the second half of 2017 will soon be behind him.