Tottenham continued their fine run of recent Premier League form with an impressive 4-1 win over London rivals West Ham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
The young Lilywhites outfit is clearly blossoming under Mauricio Pochettino’s stewardship, with the Argentine trainer’s side playing with confidence, purpose and belief in 2015-16 so far.
The victory, in which the Hammers were outplayed and restricted to fleeting opportunities, makes it 12 games without defeat for Spurs and sees the White Hart Lane outfit within four points of top spot. Although an exhausting trip to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag in the Europa League awaits in midweek, most of the Spurs faithful will already have more than one eye on their next Premier League game.
Spurs host another London rival, Chelsea, on Sunday in what will be another test of the club’s top-four credentials.
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Although the champions have not been at their vintage best so far this season, there is no doubting that Pochettino’s side will face a task to record another three points and reconfirm their intent to finish amongst English football’s elite this term.
The major negative from the resounding win over West Ham, however, was Dele Alli’s unnecessary yellow card and the fact that he will now be suspended for the visit of the Blues this weekend.
The 19-year-old picked up his fifth booking of the campaign in a clash with Mark Noble, and as such will now sit out the game against Jose Mourinho’s men.
Pochettino will surely be frustrated by the fact that the former MK Dons man is unavailable given his recent dynamic form and growing importance to the side.
The manner of the caution will also be a regret for both player and manager, with Alli not needing to get involved in a slightly unsavoury encounter with the Hammers skipper.
The personal clash should be deemed as a positive given that the teenager is clearly ready to hold his own in the Premier League and will not be daunted or take a backward step in the face of competition from seasoned professionals.
However, the booking will also come as a real lesson for the England international, who will surely be looking on from the sidelines on Sunday and wishing he could wind back the clock and not get involved with Noble in the first place.
In Alli’s place, Ryan Mason seems the most likely player to get the nod for the Chelsea game, which is a gilt-edged opportunity for the homegrown midfielder to stake a claim for regular inclusion in the Spurs XI.
It will be interesting to see whether Pochettino opts to play Mason in the number ten role behind Harry Kane, as Alli featured against West Ham, or to move Mousa Dembele forward and play him alongside Eric Dier in the boiler room.
Alli’s rise to prominence this season has played a part in Spurs’ progressive campaign to date, but without their young prodigy Pochettino’s side must show they have what it takes to finish in the top four by beating the current champions and continuing their strong form.