This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli has shown signs of returning to his old self in recent weeks.
The England international has endured a tricky start to the 2019/20 season, much like his club, following a disappointing 2018/19 season in which he scored just five Premier League goals.
Indeed, they lie in the bottom half heading into the second international break, a staggering 11 points behind the top four.
Alli has made 10 appearances in all competitions and has scored two goals, while providing one assist.
Of course, this is a player who has previously hit double figures in three separate seasons in all competitions but at the start of this campaign, he appeared somewhat lost.
His first performance in the top-flight, as a substitute against Arsenal, garnered a rating of just 5.92 from WhoScored and, while he scored against Watford, he struggled immensely against Liverpool, having just one shot on goal and completing just one dribble.
In the last two outings, though, against Everton and Sheffield United, he is inching towards his best.
WhoScored gave him a rating above seven for both games, as he laid on three key passes combined, completed two dribbles and six tackles, while he was also fouled on three occasions.
Alli scored, of course, versus Everton as Spurs picked up a point at Goodison Park.
If Alli is to continue in this vein, he needs to be playing in one position.
In his four starts, he has played in three different positions: central midfield, attacking midfield and on the left wing.
For Spurs, he has played 123 times in attacking midfield across his career, and 88 times in central midfield.
Those two positions are somewhat interchangeable; players can consistently play as a No.10 and in central midfield but one has to believe that Alli will only continue to improve if Mauricio Pochettino gives him some consistency.
He’s 23, of course – a fact that is often forgotten – and can only be a malleable presence at this stage of his career.
But for him to play well regularly, he needs to be played in the same role across multiple games.
It is down to Pochettino to do that and ensure that these promising shoots of revival bloom into something far bigger and better.