Tottenham analysis: Dele Alli thrives with extra responsibility but Spurs miss more than just Harry Kane’s goals

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AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Did Tottenham miss Kane?

Harry Kane's ankle injury, likely to keep him out for at least five weeks, gave Heung-min Son a chance to lead the attack. Son did well enough, creating space for Christian Eriksen to score the first and releasing Dele Alli to draw the foul that brought Spurs' second from the spot.

Yet with Kane in the side, Tottenham have a focal point to their attack, who can hold up the ball and bring others into the game. Son does not have these qualities: he is better suited to exploiting space behind defences with his pace and movement. Everyone knows Tottenham need Kane's finishing ability. But his strength and awareness are also vital aspects of his game that are sometimes overlooked.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

What next for Trippier?

If he were at a Premier League club outside the top six, Kieran Trippier would surely be the first-choice right-back. When he plays for Tottenham, he rarely underperforms and is often impressive. Yet try as he might, he has little chance of replacing Kyle Walker in Mauricio Pochettino's first-choice XI.

Even though Walker barely trained last week after damaging his ankle in a domestic accident, he was still given the nod over Trippier as soon as he declared himself fit. Trippier is 26 and coming into the prime of his career. He may think that, if he leaves Tottenham in the summer, he can join a club where he will play regularly - and push for a place in the England squad.

Alli takes responsibility

When Alli was fouled by Steven Davis in the penalty area towards the end of the first half, there was no doubt about who would take the kick. The England attacker marched towards the ball, grabbed it and put it on the spot. There would be no chance, it was clear, for Eriksen to try to score his second. Alli duly despatched the penalty - and there were many other moments in this game when he stepped up.

Without Kane, Alli was Tottenham's main English star on show, and he seemed to enjoy the extra responsibility. The 20-year-old was always available, always trying to create chances, always trying to help his team-mates. It was a mature display from a man who does not turn 21 until April 11.

Wanyama and Dembele edge excellent tussle

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Tottenham's central midfield pairing of Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele has been one of the most effective in England this season, but they were pushed to the limit in the second half against Southampton here. After controlling their area of the pitch for the opening 45 minutes, Wanyama and Dembele had to work much harder after the break as Oriol Romeu and Steven Davis upped their level.

Wanyama and Romeu were involved in a couple of bone-jarring tussles in a match that became increasingly physical as it progressed. Pochettino is reluctant to praise Wanyama, who joined from Southampton, publicly. Behind the scenes, though, he believes he managed to pick up a £50million player for just £9m - a remarkable bargain.

Gung-ho Tottenham risk late punishment

When you are winning a game 2-1 in the closing stages, do you really need six men joining an attack? Tottenham did exactly that - and were nearly made to pay for it when Alli lost the ball, Southampton charge into the empty spaces and substitute Sofiane Boufal fired just wide from 25 yards. You would think Spurs might learn their lesson after such a narrow escape - but in stoppage time, there was Ben Davies, a left wing-back, inside the Saints penalty area.

There are few football fans who do not enjoy watching attacking play, and Spurs are always entertaining. But there is a time for pragmatism, too. Sometimes, the most important thing is to get the game won, even if that means dropping everyone behind the ball for a time.

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