Dele Alli has been advised to remember the style of play that made him one of the country’s most-feared midfielders after suffering the ignominy of being substituted at half-time on Sunday.
Tottenham were second best on Sunday as fierce-rivals Arsenal inflicted a painful 3-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium. The defeat was Spurs’ third in a row – and has left Nuno Espirito Santo facing some awkward questions with Daniel Levy.
As a sub-plot to the defeat, the under-fire Portuguese coach pointed the finger at a number of his players for the loss.
Not only does that illustrate the discord in the ranks, but it does not take a genius to work out which players he meant. Indeed, both Alli and Japhet Tanganga were withdrawn at half-time, making it pretty clear which were those he felt didn’t follow his instructions.
For Alli though, it was another afternoon to forget. Once one of the most feared midfielders in the league, he was courted by some of the world’s elite.
But, having been blown away by Arsenal’s midfield in the first 45, he now looks a shadow of his former self.
As such, pundit Gary Neville has offered some sage advice over what he now must do to return to his best.
And he insists all is not lost for Dele if he gets back to what he does best.
“He’s got to simplify his game,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “He was an instinctive player that realised his job was to get in the box in every attack. He needs to get into the box, make that run from a deeper position. Dele must run off from Harry Kane or past him when they don’t have the ball.
“He’s now basically getting involved in build-up, thinking he’s a player and he’s not a player [like that]. He’s not a Thiago or Bruno Fernandes or Jorginho. Dele is not that type of player don’t get too involved in the build-up.
“He’s got to remove himself from the build-up. Dele needs to get involved in the game in the latter part and final third, then get back and tackle.”
Neville critical of Tottenham display
Neville, meanwhile, reckons it would be harsh to blame Tottenham’s defeat on the performance of Alli alone. Indeed, he reckons their entire midfield was handed a lesson by an improving Arsenal side.
“I know they didn’t have great football players in the centre of midfield,” Neville added. “But the appetite to press and win the ball back was completely different than even against Chelsea where I thought they played alright.
“Arsenal just ran all over them. And then the big problem when Arsenal sat deep and said ‘can you break us down’ again. They had no idea so it was poor first half for Tottenham.
“It happens when you’re 3-0 up you manage the second half out. Sometimes it can kid you when you score a goal coming back into it.”
Neville concluded: “That’s a bad day for Nuno, a bad day for those players. I think fans left the ground thinking there’s more problems than losing 3-0 to Arsenal.”