Ever since picking up a knock for England in their opening 2018 World Cup fixture against Tunisia, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli hasn’t quite looked the same player for club and country that has been so effective previously.
The 6ft 2in tall Spurs ace looked as though he wasn’t at 100% throughout the run to the semi-finals in Russia, and he has just one goal and no assists in four Premier League appearances for the north London outfit this term, albeit usually from a slightly deeper role than usual with Lucas Moura sometimes being given the nod to play closest to Harry Kane.
As he did during the summer, Alli was part of the 3-1-4-2 system for the Three Lions against Spain at Wembley on Saturday, and while he failed to make much of an impact from an offensive point of view against a team that love to keep possession, he did impress on the ball himself and prove that his defensive game is improving.
The former MK Dons star ended the game with a passing accuracy of 91% from 45 touches in total, and while he failed to have a shot at goal, he did make two interceptions and one key pass, as per WhoScored.com.
It has been clear this term already – especially in the defeat to Watford last time out – that Mousa Dembele is beginning to struggle to put in the performances he once did for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, but Alli’s latest England display suggests the club may not have to go out and buy a replacement for the Belgian.
Comfortable in possession, usually strong, able to dribble and with a keen eye for a forward pass, the 22-year-old has all of the ingredients to succeed the 31-year-old in the long term, as long as he shows a greater improvement defensively and increases his work rate.