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Why has Dele Alli flourished this season?

Wednesday 1st February 2017
Tottenham's young team are quickly becoming one of the hottest collective sides in world football - with their plethora of exciting and talented players seeing Spurs rise towards the top of the table. They are still some way short of Chelsea at the top, though, nine points, in fact. However, their outlook is far brighter than it was a few years ago.
The likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris have been superb this season, with their blend of youth and ability forcing Tottenham onwards. However, there has been one man that has risen through Tottenham's ranks and is regarded as one of the most promising talents in football.

Dele Alli has been outstanding this season and he has turned this Tottenham side from a very good team into a potential league winning outfit. His mix of technical skills and aggression perfectly complement his ability to score, pass and break up play.

Statistically, he has been very impressive this season, netting 11 goals and picking up three assists. For a midfielder, this is an outstanding return, placing him amongst the Premier League's top scorers this term, and it is something that is leading Tottenham's pursuit of Champions League football next season.

But why has he become so prominent in this Tottenham side? The London team's purchase of Victor Wanyama and the return of Mousa Dembele is the most likely reason as to why he has been so prolific. Wanyama is a far more defensive orientated midfielder who is not as technically gifted as Alli, but far more comfortable looking to break up play in front of his own box - and using his physicality to stop opposing attackers in their tracks. Dembele, on the other hand, is a blend of both Alli and Wanyama. He is very strong defensively and does not stop running, while he is also technically good enough to push forward and add an extra body in Tottenham's attacks.

Last season, Mauricio Pochettino utilised both Alli and Eric Dier in a deeper position and this stunted Alli's ability to be in the right place at the right time further forward. This season, though, Alli has been given the licence to roam further up the pitch with less defensive duties. This means that the midfielder is not shackled by the need to constantly track back with different runners, allowing the England international to focus on his attacking duties.

Last season, Alli picked up the Premier League Young Player of the Year award as Tottenham finished third in the league. They fell some way short of Leicester in the end, with Alli suspended for the final three games of the season following an altercation with West Brom's Claudio Yacob. Spurs took just one point from those three games and it displays just how badly the London side missed the 20-year-old.

The youngster is continuing to improve year on year, with his 11 goals so far this term; already eclipsing his 10 goals in the league last season. However, while he and Tottenham have flourished in the league, they have struggled hugely in the Champions League, getting eliminated at the group stages. The next step for both Alli and his team will be learning how to successfully navigate European football's most glittering tournament.
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.

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