Kane continues sparkling form but Alli and Tottenham struggle

By | December 24, 2017

It’s the half way point in the season and time to take stock of the season so far at Tottenham.


Mauricio Pochettino’s men have been graded and we’ve picked a star man, flop, key question and prediction for the rest of the season.

Grade: B
Spurs may not have faced the best Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund teams in recent memory but to finish the Champions League group stage unbeaten, with more points than any other club this season, is still a remarkable achievement given their lack of experience in the competition. The results against European and world champions Real were particularly seismic and leave Spurs fearing no-one — except perhaps Manchester City — in the knockout stages.

But in the domestic cups, they were sloppy and disinterested again, squandering a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to West Ham in the Carabao Cup fourth round.

In the Premier League, they have struggled to build momentum, losing at Arsenal, Manchester United and City to extend Mauricio Pochettino’s dismal away record at top six rivals to one win in 18 matches. They have found it difficult to break down defensive sides at temporary home Wembley, leading to frustrating dropped points against Burnley, Swansea and West Brom.

In fact, Spurs’ only standout performance in the league was the 4-1 demolition of Liverpool, which is starting to look anomalous. In spite of all that, they remain close to the top four and they usually pick-up speed at this time of year, suggesting their best form is yet to come.

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Star Man
Harry Kane. It is a little tricky to choose anyone because Spurs’ players have set such high individual standards in the last two seasons, while none of the summer signings have settled yet. But even as Spurs struggle, Kane continues to produce. He looks completely at home in the Champions League and he finished the group stage with six goals from five appearances following a brilliant hat trick at APOEL Nicosia.

Domestically, he has blown hot and cold in front of goal — although he still has 15 goals in 18 league games after Saturday’s hat trick at Burnley — but his all-round game is always improving, and his ability to spray difficult passes into wide areas is almost as impressive as his finishing.

Kane’s performances are in spite of hamstring and ankle problems that have niggled him in the last six weeks or so, but Spurs’ talisman and vice-captain continues to set the tone for his teammates with his tireless energy and pressing.

Flop
Dele Alli. While it feels unfair to single out a 21-year-old — who is understandably beginning to suffer from growing pains after two years of brilliance in the Premier League — Alli has been particularly underwhelming. He has not scored since a brilliant double in the 3-1 win over Real on Nov. 1 — his only standout performance of the season — and his all-round game is deteriorating with every performance. He contributed nothing to the recent 4-1 defeat at Manchester City and was replaced for the fourth game running, having previously completed 90 minutes in all but five of the previous 31 matches.

Alli has been targeted on the pitch by opponents, who have tried to goad him into a reaction with heavy tackles and jibes, most notably Ashley Young in Spurs’ 1-0 defeat at Manchester United last month. He let his frustration boil over at Manchester City, where he was lucky to avoid a red card for a studs-up challenge on Kevin De Bruyne.

He has also struggled at being double and triple marked, after establishing himself as a master of finding space in and around the box on the way to 22 goals last season.

Off the pitch, he has been unsettled by his decision to change agents in the summer and by transfer speculation but whatever the reasons, he has clearly been a long way from his best.