Their last defeat in the league came on the opening day against Manchester United at Old Trafford, a Kyle Walker own goal that overshadowed a really good away performance and the work that Mauricio Pochettino had put into moulding the youthful Spurs side in his image. But, that would be their only defeat in the Premier League, fifteen weeks in, shows how far this team from North London have come since the days of uncertainty under a catalog of managers handpicked by Daniel Levy in these past few years, tossing them around for fun at the slightest sight of implosion.
Tottenham Hotspur, stretched their unbeaten run to 14, a club record, when they came away with a 1-1 draw from the Hawthorns, a game they could have won, given the amount of control they established from start to finish. Although, in retrospect, it should be seen as a hallmark of this current Spurs outfit that have become an incredibly hard nut to crack. What’s more impressive about this Spurs unit, I call this a unit because they play as one, is the fact that some of the key individuals driving the team on are young English footballers and the amount of faith and time that the manager has invested in these players, be it in the training ground or off the field, is being, gratefully repaid.
In the game at the Hawthorns, Tottenham Hotspur played like a team that knew what it was doing, their passing had purpose and very rarely did they give chances away. On Saturday, it was the visiting team that opened the scoring right in the 15th minute when Alderweireld punched the ball long to find midfielder Alli, which he did, as Alli calmly directed the ball towards the net, utilizing the pace of the pass to perfection. Dele Alli, played in an advanced role just behind forward Harry Kane against West Brom and scored his third goal in the league in 5 starts this season. The 19-year old has been showing a lot of promise for the Lily Whites and his performances early in the campaign, did not go in vain, as Roy Hodgson gave him his first England cap which saw him scoring a screamer of a goal against France at the Wembley stadium.
The England international has been one of the reasons why Tottenham Hotspur are playing as well as they are in the Premier League. Despite his tender age and lack of experience in the top flight, his transition from playing for MK Dons in the lower echelons of English football to playing at one of the bigger clubs in the top division has been surprisingly seamless, to say the least. His work-ethic in midfield and the dynamism with the ball, has done Tottenham and Harry Kane in particular a world of good and in fact released some of the burden off the shoulders of Kane and Eriksen, who carried the side for the best part of last season.
Alli, has created 15 chances so far, in 13 appearances including a solitary assist. His shot accuracy (64%) is impressive considering the dearth of composure one might usually associate with that age. His defensive work alongside Eric Dier which plays a major role in Pochettino’s intense pressing style of play often goes unnoticed and the 19-year old does his fair share of dirty work in the middle, stifling and dispossessing the opposition, get involved in midfield tussles and the like. He’s so far made 28 interceptions and 17 clearances for Tottenham in the middle of the park helping them establish the sort of control one would expect from a Tottenham Hotspur eleven.
On Saturday, Alli played his usual game, marauding the pitch, he was everywhere. He, of course, scored the opener with his only shot on goal which was crucial as it earned them the point and created 3 other chances from open play. His touch map below shows the amount of ground he covers, getting and giving the ball at a high tempo, keeping Spurs ticking as they racked up close to 500 passes overall, hogging around 69% of the ball. The midfielder predominantly played the ball forwards completing 7 of 28 (25%) successful passes in the attacking third, ensuring they remained a threat in front of goal throughout.
Pochettino, post-match, didn’t really sound happy and you could understand why. On another day they could have made more out of the chances they created. He called it ‘two points lost’ and that shows what he expects of this squad week in week out and that is good news for the supporters.
“I am more disappointed because we dropped two points. At the same time we are proud it is 14 games unbeaten. The conditions were difficult to play, it didn’t help us against a very good side. I feel very proud of the players, the effort was amazing but we feel a little bit disappointed because we dropped two points.”
Having set the standards for Spurs and in some ways, the rest of the league this season, a club record unbeaten run, it is clear why the manager was rated so highly even in his time at Southampton. The Argentine has imposed his no nonsense style on Tottenham and it looks to be clicking as Spurs are in a position where they can look at a top four finish as perfectly achievable given the football they are playing at the moment. As for Dele Alli, it could one of those debut seasons for a young English footballer breaking through, and things as they do, for youngsters, can only get better for him, from now.