Why Dele Alli could become one of the greatest Premier League midfielders of all time

Dele Alli is having a fantastic Premier League season for Tottenham. He has netted an impressive 16 goals, racked up five assists and has fully deserved the plaudits he has received. His style of play is quite unique and his ability to find and create space gives him great grounding to go on to be a Premier League great. His performances this season have heaped huge expectancy on his shoulders and it’s important for him to keep his head down and work hard to continue to improve.

Age

At just 21 Alli could potentially play at the top level for another 14 or more years if the players he is likened to (Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard) are anything to go by. While a lot of young English players struggle to deal with the pressure they’re under to deliver, Alli seems to be taking things in his stride.

Goalscoring

As mentioned, Alli has netted 16 league goals this season, taking his overall total to 26 in 63 Premier League appearances, giving him a strike rate of 0.41 goals per game. By comparison Lampard over 611 games managed a staggering 176 goals, a rate of 0.28, while Gerrard netted 120 in 504, a rate of 0.22. Alli’s strike rate will no doubt slow down with the more appearances he makes but he has given himself a platform to potentially reach the lofty heights of any midfield great in terms of goals.

Positioning

Alli was signed as a deep-lying playmaker but has been utilised in just about every attacking position this season, including stepping in for Harry Kane during some of his time on the sidelines. His versatility through the middle makes him really difficult to pick up. If Alli can stay as difficult to mark in the coming years he will not only continue his goalscoring form but also free up teammates with more attention turning to him from the opposition.

Does Dele Alli have what it takes to become a Premier League great?

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World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Lithuania

Competition: World Cup 2018 Qualifier – England vs. Lithuania
Venue: Wembley – Sunday, March 26th – 17:00 GMT (13:00 ET
Match Odds: England 1/8 – Draw 7/1 – Lithuania 22/1

Match Preview

England welcome Lithuania to Wembley on Sunday evening in the 5th game of their World Cup Qualifiers. The Group F table is much as you’d expect, with England unbeaten in their previous four outings but there is plenty of work for Gareth Southgates side still to do.

The Three Lions have ten points from their four games and this fixture should be straightforward enough for them. The quality of the England attack should be more than capable of unlocking the Lithuania defence.

England have not lost a home World Cup Qualifier (Europe) since 2000, winning 18 of 20 games and have conceded just eight goals in those games. If those stats are anything to go by England should be comfortably winning to nil.

Lithuania have been no mugs so far in the qualifications rounds and are still in contention to reach the finals. They have five points from four games and trail second place by just three points.

They come into this one having lost 4-0 to Slovakia away from home. If Lithuania want to be challenging until the latter stages of the qualification rounds they will want to put in a respectable performance here so they can go into their next two home games with confidence of picking up positive results.

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Team News

Southgate will more than likely make changes to the England side that lost on Wednesday evening. Gary Cahill is suspended and Chris Smalling has pulled out through injury, Ben Gibson has been called up as his replacement. This may mean Southgate will revert back to four at the back rather than three. John Stones will more than likely start and Michael Keane should keep his place in the starting XI. Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling will be hoping to feature.

The Lithuania squad boast no real household names, so no surprises should be expected from them here. They will work extremely hard to cause England a tricky evening but as huge underdogs you can expect them to lineup with a packed out defence and midfield, possibly in a 4-5-1 or 5-4-1 formation.

Key Points

England’s last five: W/D/W/D/L

Lithuania’s last five: D/D/W/L/L

Key Stat: England remain unbeaten in the qualifying rounds and haven’t conceded.

Key Player: Dele Alli – The Spurs midfielder will be looking to have a huge impact on the game and continue his impressive season. His surging runs with and without the ball will cause Lithuania all sorts of problems this weekend.

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Score Prediction

England 4-0 Lithuania – Gareth Southgate’s side should be looking at a comfortable win here. They’ll be hoping to score early and settle the game down. If England have a healthy lead by half-time then Southgate will give some of the players on the bench some minutes. Lithuania will be resilient in keeping England out but for how long they can manage to do so is questionable.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Tottenham vs West Brom

Competition: Premier League – Tottenham vs. West Bromwich Albion

Venue: White Hart Lane – Saturday, January 14 – 12:30 GMT (07:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Spurs 30/100 – Draw 4/1 – West Brom 10/1

Match Preview

Spurs welcome West Brom to White Hart Lane in Saturday’s early kickoff in the Premier League, with the home side looking to stretch their winning run to six league games.

Tottenham beat Chelsea 2-0 in their most recent Premier League game, before then beating Aston Villa in the FA Cup Third Round by the same scoreline.

Mauricio Pochettino will be delighted with the way his side are performing of late, and particularly Dele Alli after watching the 20-year-old midfielder score six times in his last three starts.

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A win over West Brom on Saturday would see Spurs move into second before Liverpool play Manchester United on Sunday, and that will undoubtedly be the aim.

The Baggies arrive at Spurs off the back of a two-game winning run after beating Southampton and Hull in their last two league games.

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They did, however, crash out of the FA Cup after losing 2-1 at home to Derby last Saturday and Tony Pulis will be desperate to see his players respond with a better showing here.

The Baggies have drawn each of the last three games with Spurs 1-1. A dramatic ending to the clash at the Hawthorns back in October saw both sides score in the final eight minutes.

Team News

Spurs only have one player ruled out of the contest, with Erik Lamela still a week away from a return to action after struggling with a hip injury. Mauricio Pochettino’s biggest decision will be what formation to deploy from the outset, with the 3-4-3 setup working well against Watford and Chelsea in their last two league games.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis is set to be without four players for the trip to Spurs. Saido Berahino is short of match fitness, while Allan Nyom could be unavailable as a result of refusing to play for Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Chris Brunt and Jonny Evans are both doubts and may miss the game.

Key Points

Tottenham’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

West Brom’s last five: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Spurs have only won one of their last seven games against West Brom, drawing five times against the Baggies in that time, with the last three meetings ending 1-1.

Key Player: Dele Alli – The Spurs midfielder is in the form of his life. He’s scored a brace in his last three Premier League outings – becoming the first midfielder to do so in the competition – and has scored twice in three previous clashes with the Baggies. Expect him to be causing the West Brom defence problems again here.

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Score Prediction

Tottenham 2-1 West Brom – Spurs have struggled to get wins against the Baggies in recent times and another tough test is expected in Saturday’s early kickoff. But Tottenham have looked resurgent in recent weeks and their 2-0 win over Chelsea was arguably their best result of the season. They should follow that up with another three points against a West Brom side that has struggled against the big sides this term.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Slovenia vs England

Competition: World Cup 2018 Qualification – Slovenia vs England

Venue: Stožice Stadium – Tuesday, October 11 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET) 

Match Odds: Slovenia 19/4 – Draw 5/2 – England 4/6

Match Preview

Slovenia host England in both side’s third Group F World Cup Qualifying game on Tuesday night, with the Three Lions looking to make it three wins from three and remain top of the group.

Slovenia started their campaign with a 2-2 draw in Lithuania but followed it up with a 1-0 home win over Slovakia on Saturday and now sit joint-second with Scotland in Group F, two points behind leaders England.

Tuesday night’s game is a great chance for Slovenia to prove their credentials as they look to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in which they were drawn in the same group as England.

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They have a strong home record and are tough the break down, so will be confident of getting a result against Gareth Southgate’s men here.

For England, it’s a chance to take full control of the group by keeping their 100% record intact in what is one of the campaign’s toughest away games.

The Three Lions have already won away at Slovakia in their opening Group F game and have more than enough quality in the squad to leave Slovenia with three points on Tuesday.

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Southgate will have been pleased with the win over Malta but will know that he’s being judged on how he sets his side up for games like this one. A win in Ljubljana would start to change people’s minds on whether he’s the right man for the job in the long run.

This will be the fifth meeting between the two nations. England have won all four prior to this, winning home and away in qualification for Euro 2016 over the last two years.

Team News

Slovenia have been rocked by the loss of their star man Kevin Kampl, with the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder withdrawing from the squad through exhaustion. Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak will expect to be busy in goal but will back his abilities as he looks to keep a second clean sheet in a week.

England have lost Tom Heaton and Ryan Bertrand through injury, with Kieran Gibbs and Jordan Pickford coming into the squad. Wayne Rooney is expected to start the game on the bench, with Eric Dier likely to come into midfield in order to offer some solid protection in what is expected to be a tougher game than the home clash against Malta. Marcus Rashford will be hoping for a start but may have to make an impact off the bench.

Key Points

Slovenia’s last five: L/D/L/D/W

England’s last five: W/D/L/W/W

Key Stat: Slovenia have only lost three of their last 13 home games, keeping clean sheets in eight of those games.

Key Player: Dele Alli – The young Tottenham midfielder scored his second England goal in the win over Malta on Saturday and will be looking to star for Southgate once again here. In what is expected to be a tight game, Alli will need to use his creativity to try and unlock a stern Slovenian defence.

Score Prediction

Slovenia 0-1 England – This will likely be another difficult away game for England. They managed to break down Slovakia in the dying minutes and will need to be prepared to face another resilient defence here. But, given the quality in this England side, they should be able to leave Slovenia with all three points.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Malta

Competition: International Friendly – England vs. Malta 

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, October 8 – 17:00 BST (12:00 ET)

Match Odds: England 1/50 – Draw 20/1 – Malta 50/1

Match Preview

England welcome Malta to Wembley on Saturday afternoon in the second round of World Cup qualifying fixtures in Group F.

The host nation are second in the group heading into this game, behind only by goal difference. This is an opportunity for England to pick up three points and improve their goal tally in a game their are expected to win comfortably.

Since their opening win of the qualifying rounds England have parted company with Sam Allardyce for his ‘inappropriate conduct’ in a meeting with undercover reporters. England started their campaign with a late 1-0 win over Slovakia and anything but 100% after the second round of fixtures will be deemed inexcusable.

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Gareth Southgate takes interim charge of the national team for the first time since replacing Allardyce, he has been promoted from the U21 boss.

Malta were thumped 5-1 by Group F leaders Scotland in their opening game of the qualifying campaign, seeing their winless run extended to 11 games.

Pietro Ghedin faces the unenviable task of trying to frustrate teams in the group, with his side widely expected to finish bottom and be on the receiving end of many defeats by a high number of goals.

Malta are ranked 176th in the world rankings, their last win came in 2015 and they have conceded 14 goals in their last four games.

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Team News

Southgate announced Wayne Rooney would remain England captain during his time in charge. Phil Jagielka, Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson pulled out of the squad through injury, leaving the door open for Michael Keane to earn his first cap for England. Andros Townsend replaced Sterling but Southgate isn’t expected to call in a replacement for Jagielka.

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Malta have no real ‘household name’ players in their squad. What you can expect is their starting XI to work extremely hard and ensure they earn the respect of the Wembley crowd.

Key Points

England’s last five: D/W/D/L/W

Malta’s last five: D/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: This is Gareth Southgate’s first game as head coach of England’s senior team.

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Key Player: Dele Alli – The Tottenham Hotspur star is full of enthusiasm and talent. He will be hoping to express himself on the ball in this game and make it one to remember.

Score Prediction

England 4-0 Malta – To say England are favourites is an understatement. They simply have to pick up a strong win here and ensure they keep a clean sheet. If they score a couple of early goals Malta’s confidence will be even lower than when the game kicks off, but they have to treat their opposition with respect and go about their business in a professional way.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Anfield – Saturday, April 2 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 6/4 – Draw 12/5 – Tottenham 7/4

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome Premier League title chasers Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield this weekend in a game which is usually packed full of action. 

Jurgen Klopp’s side suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to Southampton before the international break after having a comfortable 2-0 advantage.

European football is still on the agenda for Liverpool, they sit 9th but are only six points off the top four, we can expect plenty of changes to the table during the run-in to the end of the season.

Liverpool have scored 18 goals and are unbeaten against Tottenham in the last six meetings between the sides.

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Tottenham are still within a shout of winning the league, they are five points off top spot so they must ensure they win every game until the end of the season to do everything they can to challenge for the title.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side look destined for a top four finish now barring an unthinkable run of poor form, Spurs fans would have been more than happy with their side securing Champions League football at the start of the season.

Tottenham secured a convincing 3-0 win over Bournemouth before the international break. They started that game incredibly well, scoring within a minute, if they can start this game in similar fashion they will no doubt cause Liverpool problems.

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Team News

Liverpool have six injury concerns coming into this tie. Christian Benteke, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Rossiter are all out, while Roberto Firmino is a doubt.

Tottenham have a shorter injury list, with just four players who could miss out. Nabil Bentaleb and Clinton N’Jie are both expected to be out, while Jan Vertonghen and Erik Lamela are both doubts.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five: D/W/W/W/L

Tottenham’s last five: W/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: Liverpool are unbeaten in 15 of their last 16 home games against Spurs in all competitions. 

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Spurs goal machine has netted 21 in the league this season and scored a stunner for England to spark their comeback against Germany in the international break, he is in great form and will be looking to cause Liverpool problems this weekend.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur – Tottenham to just edge it and put a winless run of six games against Liverpool behind them. If Spurs are to lose in this one they could find themselves completely out of the race for the title, so there is added pressure on Pochettino’s side to perform here. 

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Tottenham

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur 

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, January 3 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Everton 13/8 – Draw 12/5 – Spurs 11/10

Match Preview

Everton take on Tottenham in a key New Year’s clash on Sunday afternoon, with Spurs looking to make it four wins on the bounce as they enter 2016 as title contenders.

Everton will hope the new year can inspire a turnaround of fortunes as they have only won one of their last six Premier League outings.

Roberto Martinez will feel hard done by as the Toffees have been playing some good football. Their 4-3 loss to Stoke on Monday typified their recent bad luck but they must pick back up quickly if they are to take anything from Sunday’s match.

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Spurs travel to Goodison Park as title contenders and are just four points off joint leaders Arsenal and Leicester. They sit in fourth place but there’s no doubt that supporters are now looking higher up the table after a fantastic first half of the campaign.

Tottenham have lost just twice in the first five months of the season and have the best defensive record in the top flight, having conceded just 15 in 19 matches.

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Their recent record with Everton suggests they will keep another clean sheet on Sunday as Spurs have only conceded once in their last five clashes with the Toffees.

Everton haven’t beaten Spurs in the league since 2012. The reverse fixture this term saw the sides play out a tight 0-0 at White Hart Lane and this one is likely to be another close encounter.

Team News

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has a number of injury worries heading into the new year. James McCarthy picked up a groin problem in the loss to Stoke and will miss out here, while Steven Pienaar, Bryan Oviedo, Tony Hibbert, Tyias Browning and Phil Jagielka remain out too. Tom Cleverley is a doubt and may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Tottenham will travel to Everton without Moussa Dembele, after the Belgian picked up an ankle knock in the win at Watford. Alex Pritchard and Clinton N’Jie are also sidelined through injury but those three are Mauricio Pochettino’s only worries heading to Merseyside.

Key Points

Everton’s last five: D/D/L/W/L

Tottenham’s last five: D/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Tottenham have only conceded one goal in their last five games against Everton in the Premier League, and are unbeaten in six against the Toffees.

Key Player: Dele Alli – The young English midfielder continues to impress with every game he plays in a Tottenham shirt and he now has one goal and two assists in his last three games. He’ll look to continue his fine run here.

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Score Prediction

Everton 1-2 Tottenham – This is likely to be another tight game between the two sides but with Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku in great form, goals are to be expected. Tottenham’s fine run means they will expect to just edge what should be a fine game.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur vs Newcastle United

International Friendly Preview and Prediction: England vs France

Competition: International Friendly – England vs. France 

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Tuesday, November 17 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: England 6/4 – Draw 11/5 – France 15/8

Match Preview

England face Euro 2016 hosts France at Wembley on Tuesday night in a friendly game that will see the two nations stand together following Friday night’s tragic terror attacks in Paris.

Initially it seemed obvious that the game would be cancelled by the French Football Federation but they have decided to let the game go ahead. England and France will use the match to showcase the two nations’ solidarity following Friday’s events.

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England come into the game following their 2-0 defeat to Spain in Alicante on Friday evening. The result saw England lose for the first time since the 2014 World Cup, ending a run of 14 games unbeaten.

With Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy out through injury, Harry Kane is the only fit striker available to Roy Hodgson and there are worries the England squad looks too weak just months before the European Championships get underway.

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It will be interesting to see what the side will look like with Dele Alli and Eric Dier both awaiting their first start in an England shirt, and just how ‘experimental’ the starting XI will be on Tuesday evening.

France beat Germany 2-0 on Friday night in Paris as the tragic events in the French capital unfolded. The result of that game will mean little to French supporters but the game against England will go ahead.

However, Didier Deschamps’ side have now won five games in a row and will use the game with England to show solidarity. The European Championships in France are still set to go ahead and so the host nation will want to ensure they are in the best form possible.

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Key Points

England’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

France’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: England haven’t beaten France on home soil since 1992 and have failed to win in any of the last six meetings between the nations.

Key Player: Paul Pogba – Pogba is one of the world’s most complete midfielder and has been sensational since joining Juventus in 2012. It won’t be long until he’s one of, if not the best, players in world football. He’s a superb talent with unfathomable potential.

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Score Prediction

England 1-1 France – We’re hoping this game offers a chance for football to distract itself from the events in Paris on Friday night and hopefully both sides will be looking to get forward and score goals. We think a score draw is most likely.

Mauricio Pochettino key to new Spurs man’s arrival

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino is the key reason why Dele Alli has chosen to join Spurs, the young English star has claimed.

The 19-year-old attacker, who joined Spurs from League One side MK Dons in January before returning on loan, has already been named as the Football League’s Young Player of the Year.

Alli has scored 16 goals with six assists in 36 league appearances for MK Dons this season and is viewed as one of English football’s brightest young talents.

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And he has revealed that Pochettino is a key reason behind why he chose to join Spurs, despite interest from a whole host of top clubs.

“MK has got a special place in my heart but obviously I have signed to ­Tottenham,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Star.

“When you go, you don’t want a manager that’s not going to have any trust in young players.

“With Pochettino you can see already he has a lot of faith in youngsters. You need a manager that believes in you and shows that by playing you.”

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That faith has seen English youngsters Harry Kane, Ryan Mason and Eric Dier all establish themselves as first-team regulars at Spurs this season, with Kane and Mason both earning their first international call-ups as a result of their performances.

Dele Alli will hope to shine in the Premier League next season but will be focused on trying to earn MK Dons promotion to the Championship first with just one game remaining for the League One side.

Will Dele Alli be a star at Tottenham Hotspur? Will he get a chance next season?