The Chalkboard: Dele Alli injury will allow Christian Eriksen to thrive in key position

Tottenham Hotspur confirmed via their official Twitter account on Tuesday that midfielder Dele Alli isn’t expected to return to training until early March – the same time as teammate Harry Kane because of his ankle issue (BBC Sport) – following the hamstring injury he suffered during his side’s 2-1 win against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

On the chalkboard

With Kane out, Son Heung-Min away at the Asian Cup and Lucas Moura even spending time on the sidelines because of injury in recent weeks, the loss of Alli provides Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino with yet another selection headache.

The Argentine moved away from the 4-4-2 diamond/4-3-1-2 system he had favoured recently for the short trip across the capital at the weekend, selecting a 3-4-2-1 formation that saw Alli and Erik Lamela supporting Fernando Llorente up top.

It was a decision that just about paid off as central midfielder Harry Winks netted a last-gasp winner against Claudio Ranieri’s men, but now Pochettino must decide what he is going to do over the course of the next few weeks with Llorente hardly doing himself any favours with his display.

Christian Eriksen’s time to shine?

Because Tottenham have been missing the likes of Victor Wanyama, the now departed Mousa Dembele and Moussa Sissoko at times this season due to injury, Eriksen has often had to take up a deeper midfield role.

That was the case against Fulham as he played alongside Winks in the centre, and previously in the 4-4-2/4-3-1-2 formations.

However, it is clear to see that the Denmark international thrives in a more advanced position on the pitch, and playing directly behind the striker isn’t an opportunity he has had too often this term because of the form and presence of Alli.

Now he should get that opportunity on a consistent basis over the course of the next six weeks, and Pochettino should switch back to the 4-3-1-2 system to get the best out of him.

Llorente might not be the best lone centre-forward option, but with Moura alongside him and the creative Eriksen in behind, Tottenham can still be an effective attacking team throughout the course of the next six weeks.

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