Pochettino defends 'easy target' Alli after Van Aanholt clash

Dele Alli clashed with Patrick van Aanholt after a penalty appeal for the Tottenham man, but Mauricio Pochettino defended the England star.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli is challenged by Patrick van Aanholt of Crystal Palace   -  Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino defended "special kid" Dele Alli after the Tottenham midfielder was again involved in controversy during their Premier League victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Harry Kane's late header earned Spurs a 1-0 win to boost their Champions League qualification hopes, with Alli criticised for the way he went down over Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Alli appeared to have escaped the attentions of Patrick van Aanholt before going to ground and the pair later clashed at the full-time whistle, with Kane and Christian Eriksen separating the duo.

The England international has been accused of simulation on a number of occasions this season - he has avoided retrospective punishment but been booked twice for diving in the Premier League - but Pochettino believes Alli is being singled out for criticism.

"He is an easy target for everyone, Dele," Pochettino told reporters. "He is an easy target and is surrounded.

"I think Roy Hodgson [spoke] very well in his press conference before the game, I think we need to stop thinking too much about him, or to help people create this reputation.

"It is his game, he plays like this he is so competitive but I think because he has this focus [from the media] sometimes other players are worse than him and nothing happens because Dele is an easy target.

"The incident of Hennessey on Ben Davies was a clear penalty and I never complained about that, but I don't know I didn't see the action so I cannot say.

"Dele is a special kid. He is going to play, he is going to show his quality and he is not worried about what the people say."

Eric Dier excelled in defence in the absence of Jan Vertonghen, the Belgium international missing the trip to Selhurst Park with an ankle knock.

"Jan we need to assess tomorrow. He received a heavy knock on his ankle," said Pochettino. 

"We were training yesterday and we couldn't communicate because we were waiting until the next day to assess him to see whether it was possible to play him. He wasn't ready, but now we need to see. We hope it's not a big deal.

"Today I think [Dier] was fantastic. He and Davinson [Sanchez] were fantastic. Many good communications. It was a tough game, up against [Christian] Benteke, different players like [Andros] Townsend, and we kept a clean sheet.

"It's a good thing that Eric can play in different positions and he can perform in the way he did today. That's what I like from him, it doesn't affect his performance. He can play like a midfielder, like a centre-back. Remember in my first season he played like a full-back too. It makes him very strong and an important player for Tottenham."

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