Talking Point: Is Dele Alli's slump something to be worried about?

Dele Alli has been a little disappointing so far this season, though he has enjoyed similar struggles before and gone on to thrive.

Tottenham's recent woes in the Premier League have shed light on other issues facing Mauricio Pochettino, with Dele Alli's form arguably chief among them.   -  AFP

Tottenham's recent woes in the Premier League have shed light on other issues facing Mauricio Pochettino, with Dele Alli's form arguably chief among them.

For someone who managed 18 league goals last season, Alli's tally of three following the 4-1 defeat to Manchester City is rather disappointing.

And his all-round performance in that humbling loss was poor, while he was lucky to escape a red card for an over-the-top challenge on Kevin De Bruyne.

It is surely no coincidence that Spurs have also flattered to deceive somewhat so far this term, with Pochettino's men sitting as low as seventh in the table ahead of their trip to Burnley - a point above it- on Saturday.

But, as we examine below, Alli has endured similar dips before and gone on to explode.

PRE-CHRISTMAS NADIR

For someone who managed 18 league goals last season, Alli's tally of three following the 4-1 defeat to Manchester City is rather disappointing.   -  AFP

 

As we approach the hectic Christmas period in the Premier League, Alli's goal-involvement record is by no means terrible, though perhaps some would have expected more from him.

The 21-year-old has three goals and as many assists in 17 appearances, while he has also attempted 33 shots and produced 29 chances for team-mates.

However, he has actually been more effective so far this term than he was last year, if you can believe that.

In the 16 games that he played before Christmas in 2016-17, Alli had been involved in one goal fewer, having scored four and set up just one.

And on top of that, he had created 27 chances, slightly less than he has managed so far this season.

So, perhaps his best is yet to come?

POST-CHRISTMAS PEAK

Dele Alli has three goals and as many assists in 17 appearances, while he has also attempted 33 shots and produced 29 chances for team-mates.   -  AFP

 

The best of Alli certainly arrived after Christmas last season, with the MK Dons youth product going on to have an immense campaign, winning a second successive PFA Young Player of the Year award and earning a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

In the 21 matches he played after December 25 last year, Alli scored with 14 of his 53 shots, giving him a conversion rate of 26.4 per cent, compared to the 9.8% he managed before Christmas.

He also added six assists, taking his goal-involvement tally for that period up to 20.

That meant he was involved in a goal every 91.5 minutes in those 21 matches. By comparison, he is contributing a goal or assist only every 233.2 minutes this season.

While that suggests there is hope that Alli will once again find his best form after Christmas, it also highlights that he is still struggling to find consistency.

ENGLAND COMPETITION

Rashford, Sterling and Lingard do not necessarily pose a direct threat to Alli's position in the England squad, but should they continue to be decisive while Alli's slump rumbles on, Southgate may consider his options.   -  AFP

 

No one is suggesting that Alli's form is jeopardising his chances of playing for England at the 2018 World Cup - he will probably be one of the first on the plane to Russia if he remains fit.

However, it is worth highlighting his dip in comparison to some of the other creative players who are also likely to be fighting for attacking positions in Gareth Southgate's team next year.

Raheem Sterling is one of the Premier League's form players this season, with his record of 11 goals and three assists meaning he has had a hand in a goal every 86.3 minutes for Manchester City.

Marcus Rashford (four goals, five assists) is another who is proving more effective in attack than Alli, scoring or assisting every 121.2 minutes.

And Jesse Lingard, despite playing just 626 minutes of league football so far this term, has scored four times and set up a team-mate on another three occasions. That is a goal involvement every 89.4 minute.

Rashford, Sterling and Lingard do not necessarily pose a direct threat to Alli's position, but should they continue to be decisive while Alli's slump rumbles on, Southgate may consider his options.

 

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