Spurs need to get back to winning ways later this evening after a trio of tough results in the Premier League.
Nuno Santo and his side welcome Slovenian champions NS Mura to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the UEFA Europa Conference League group stages, where they opened the competition with a 2-2 draw at Stade Rennes two weeks ago.
The north London outfit have suffered three straight heavy defeats in the English top-flight and now according to some reports, the Portuguese head coach is under mounting pressure to turn things around on the pitch.
That means he cannot take today’s opposition lightly, despite the obvious difference in quality.
Last time out, Spurs crashed to a 3-1 defeat in the north London derby and after admitting that he got his team selection so badly wrong, Nuno will need to get it spot on this time around.
Dele Alli’s outing against the Gunners lasted just 45 minutes as he was hooked at the break, with the Lilywhites down by three goals. It was a rather damning statement from Nuno and one that could carry into tonight’s encounter.
Despite starting every single Premier League game since the arrival of the ex-Wolves boss in the summer, truth be told, the English midfielder has looked some way off hitting his former heights.
Spurs are amongst the worst teams when it comes to the final third – they rank last for average number shots per game (9.3), joint-bottom for big chances created (4) and second last for expected goals (5.47 xG).
It’s clear that there is something wrong with the makeup of Nuno’s midfield and attack.
Alli once delivered ten assists, also averaging 1.8 key passes per game, during the 2017/18 campaign, via WhoScored.
Such form had former players like club legend Darren Anderton comparing him to Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard, even dubbing him a “freak of a talent” who was a “joy to watch.”
Things quickly turned sour under Jose Mourinho but he’s now been given a proper chance to impress – but he hasn’t taken it and you could argue that his presence is holding Spurs back at the moment.
He is yet to register an assist or key pass from his six starts in the top-flight, meaning he could be one of the many reasons behind their creative struggles up top.
The £27m-rated star, who is still only 25, has been out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad since their third-place playoff win over Denmark in the UEFA Nations League back in June 2019, over two years ago.
A bitter disappointment for someone who had clinched 37 caps by that point in his career – now he’s at a crossroads.
By comparison, Giovani Lo Celso has managed just the one league start but is averaging a squad-high 2.8 key passes per 90 minutes, which suggests he may well be the better option, should he be gifted a proper run in the side.
It may only be NS Mura tonight but Alli should be dropped as Nuno needs to search for a solution ahead of a crunch match with Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.
He must be ruthless and not start the struggling midfielder today.