Antonio Conte will be looking to see a reaction from his Tottenham Hotspur side this afternoon when they return to Premier League action just days after their embarrassment in midweek.
Spurs were beaten by the Europa Conference League’s lowest-ranked team, NS Mura, over in Slovenia in what was arguably one of their most humiliating results in recent history.
The Italian will not want a repeat when they face Burnley at Turf Moor today. The Clarets occupy a place in the relegation zone but historically, it has always been a tough place to go, particularly under Sean Dyche, so it’ll be no easy task.
It means the 52-year-old head coach will need to get his team selection spot-on, and after his rather damning post-game comments on Thursday night, it would be a surprise to see many, if any, of that team feature from the off today.
“After three weeks I am starting to understand the situation. It is not simple,” he said (via Sky Sports). “At this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.”
Indeed, much of the squad has survived through the last three managers – Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo, all of whom hinted that some sort of rebuild was needed.
Dele Alli is one of those who has lasted during this time and he was one of many to fail the eye test against the Slovenian minnows.
Indeed, the long-serving 25-year-old midfielder was graded amongst Conte’s worst-performing players, per SofaScore ratings. He lasted just 54 minutes before the Lilywhites boss had enough and withdrew him from the field of play.
In that time, he managed only 29 touches and 18 passes, whilst he was dribbled past three times – not what you want from someone you’d expect to be the creative influence in behind Harry Kane.
It was only a few years ago that Alli was an absolute machine in the final third. The 2016/17 league campaign saw him register 18 goals and seven assists, earning lofty comparisons to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes.
Spurs legend Darren Anderton even dubbed him a “freak of a talent” in one interview towards the end of that season.
Since then, Alli’s career has taken a turn for the worst, with only nine goals and five assists since the start of the 2019/20 season, the same year that Mourinho famously lambasted him as “lazy” in more colourful terms during their ‘All or Nothing’ docuseries.
Conte will need someone with not only a tireless work rate but someone who can provide the cutting edge against a resolute Burnley outfit, and the £27m-rated England dynamo is just not that.
Whether there are many alternatives in the squad very much remains to be seen but Alli should be ruthlessly axed from the starting XI this afternoon.