Spurs star Dele Alli: New system has made me more dangerous, but I need to be more clinical
Dele Alli says Tottenham’s new system is helping him to be more dangerous in the final third after his latest goal - but he admits he should have been more clinical in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has recently switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-1-4-1 formation, which has effectively given the Lilywhites two players – Alli and Christian Eriksen - in the No10 role behind the striker.
The change seems to have suited Alli, who has scored in his last two games for his club, against Manchester City and West Brom.
“When you’re playing with a few players in the pocket it doesn’t leave me isolated in there by myself,” said the 20-year-old. “I have a bit more space to work and be higher up the pitch.
“With the strikers we’ve got, they have great movement so it gives me a chance to, if not get in behind, then have space in the pocket to have a shot or whatever.
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“I like scoring goals and being up there and it’s important for me to keep doing that, and for the team as well.”
Alli scored 11 goals for club and country in his breakthrough season last campaign and he has already struck four times for Tottenham and England this term.
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While these are early days in his career, he would like to emulate some of the Premier League’s most famous goalscoring midfielders, such as Steven Gerrard, who racked up 120 top-flight goals for Liverpool.
“I hope so,” said Alli. “Being compared to someone like that, he’s a hero of mine and to be put in the same category as him is an honour, but I have to keep working for the team and trying to do as well as I can.”
Alli certainly has room to improve. While he scored Spurs’ late equaliser at the Hawthorns on Saturday, netting away against Albion for the second season in a row, he also missed two good chances in the first half, seeing a close-range effort saved by Ben Foster and also being denied one on one.
Pochettino said after the game: “He needs to improve. He had a big chance in the first half and he needed to score.”
Alli concurred, saying: “It’s always nice to get a goal but I feel like I could have had a few more. With the chances we were creating and the one on one where I went through, I should have put it away and it would have been a different game. But when you’re a goal behind and you get a goal, it’s always a delight.
“Every game is different and every opposition comes with a different threat. We dominated the game from the start and it was a case of not putting away our chances. The keeper played really well for them and kept out a few shots from us.
“It’s one of them – it’s a tough one to take and we feel like we should have left with three points, but there are definitely positives to take.
“As a team we’re confident and we feel like we can beat anyone. We won’t be too down on that game, we just need to work on the negatives and make sure that we improve on it and be more clinical. Even if the keeper is playing well we have to make sure we do score.”
In the end it took an inventive prodded finish from Alli to beat the impressive Foster in the final minutes, and he said: “It was one of those - natural instinct - when I knew that all the players were on the other side of the goal. It was a bit compact there so I wanted to put it in the other corner and thankfully it went in.”
Alli admits he owed the team an equaliser after allowing his former team-mate Nacer Chadli to break the deadlock in the 82nd minute.
“It was my man for the corner,” he said. “He (Chadli) is a great player and all credit to him. He’s gone there and scored a few goals as well. There’s no denying he’s a great player and will get goals in this league.”
Chadli’s strike denied Tottenham their third successive clean sheet, and they now face a spell without their influential centre-back Toby Alderweireld, who was stretchered off shortly after the hour-mark with a knee injury.
“There’s no denying that he’s a fantastic defender and a great part of this team,” said Alli. “We all have our fingers crossed that it isn’t too bad but the squad has great depth and the [other] defenders are waiting to get their chance as well.
“Hopefully it’s not too bad, but it will give other people a chance to come in and earn their place.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs