Dele Alli marks anniversary of Tottenham move with fine display at Norwich
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 03/02/16 12:53pm
Twelve months on from his Tottenham move, Dele Alli provided yet more evidence of what a key player he has become against Norwich.
A year ago to the day, the talented teenager walked into Spurs' Enfield training complex, only to be immediately loaned back to MK Dons for the remainder of last season, earmarked as "one for the future".
However, Alli has never looked back after being given his chance by Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino this campaign, and has quickly become one of the leading lights at the White Hart Lane.
The 19-year-old was the only player to really be given a rest in the weekend FA Cup success at Colchester, with even Harry Kane playing the majority of the match at the Colchester Community Stadium.
At Carrow Road, Alli was not risked for the second half, being withdrawn due to illness. But by then the job was all but done, with the young midfielder instrumental in Spurs' dominance, setting them up for a win which moved them to third in the Premier League.
"Alli ran the show in the first half," Soccer Special pundit Matt Murray said after Alli's substitution. "His job was done, and Spurs do not look anything like as threatening without him on the pitch."
The England international has had a hand in 10 goals in his last 13 league games for Spurs (six goals, four assists), and has scored in consecutive games for the first time since April 2015 (in all competitions), showing how his early season form was no flash in the pan.
Aside from his goalscoring prowess - his stunning effort at Crystal Palace a particular shining light - what stands him apart is his energetic, all-action displays, typified by his alertness in opening the scoring in East Anglia.
As the rest stood to admire a fine Declan Rudd save from Christian Eriksen's powerful effort, Alli pounced to once again get on the scoresheet.
We cannot take any risks with him, he is very important to us.
His meteoric rise cannot be underestimated. Alli now has seven Premier League goals - as many as Arsenal's Jack Wilshere has managed in 78 games more.
Even the normally stoic Pochettino couldn't hide how highly he regards Alli after being questioned over the starlet's illness which saw him withdrawn.
"He felt unwell and a little bit dizzy, so we wanted to prevent anything more," Pochettino said. "We cannot take any risks with him, he is very important to us. We hope that he will be fine for the weekend, and we will see if he can play."
Fans are becoming very fond of Alli's combative style, with his work ethic easy to warm to.
As well as completing 12 passes in Norwich's half in the opening 45 minutes at Carrow Road, Alli wasn't afraid to put his foot in, competing in a joint-high six duels, while winning all of his aerial tussles.
With Pochettino's penchant for giving youth a chance, Alli has every opportunity to develop even further this campaign, and the protective stance the former Southampton boss has taken with Alli is further evidence of just how crucial a player he has become already.
If Alli can continue to have such an impact in the heart of the Spurs midfield, Euro 2016 may not be the step too far many previously have suggested.