Tottenham Hotspur’s forgotten man, Dele Alli, is in line to feature this evening as the north Londoners head to Everton for an FA Cup fifth-round encounter.
That’s according to The Sun, who claim that Jose Mourinho could recall Alli as well as the recently dropped Eric Dier tonight.
The 24-year-old hasn’t featured for Spurs since starring against non-league outfit Marine in the third round and has since held ‘clear the air’ talks with the manager after a late switch to Paris Saint-Germain fell through in the winter window.
Speaking about the situation, Mourinho said: “What’s changed? He is available and not injured. He is happy to be training and we’re happy to have him back.”
So, here’s why he should start – if fit…
On the Chalkboard
Spurs ended a run of three straight defeats with a win over relegation-threatened West Brom at the weekend but they shouldn’t be fooled into a false sense of security as they only managed to stick two past the division’s worst defence.
Harry Kane’s return helped as he and Heung-min Son combined for both goals once again but there was still a creative influence lacking from midfield.
Mourinho opted to deploy Tanguy Ndombele in a deeper role alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, giving the nod to Lucas Moura to play in behind the striker despite being a winger by trade.
His passing accuracy of 70% that afternoon, just 2.4% below his average for the campaign, suggests that it’s not the best long-term role for him and as such, we ought to see Alli feature there instead.
The 37-time England international has consistently been a creative influence throughout his Spurs career, averaging 0.2 expected assists per 90 with a career-best of 0.27 coming in 2016/17, the season in which he provided ten assists in 36 league appearances, via Understat.
By comparison, that figure would see him rank fourth for those that have started 12 or more league matches this term – behind Kane, Son and Serge Aurier.
He’d even be ahead of Sergio Reguilon, who has provided the third-highest number of assists this term.
It’s no wonder that Alli once drew comparisons to Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard by Spurs legend Darren Anderton, he said (via Goal):
“I’ve got to say that I loved Stevie G as a player and Scholesy but Dele Alli for his age is just a freak of a talent. I love his arrogance on the pitch, how clever he is in finding the positions that he does and his willingness to try everything. He is a real joy to watch.”
Now valued at just €30m (£26m) by CIES Football Observatory, Alli finds himself at a crossroad and it is opportunities like this he must grasp in order to convince Mourinho into trusting him in the long run.
Alli’s creative spark could be the gamechanger for Spurs this evening. He must start at Goodison Park.