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Tottenham: Alli suggests area for improvement; club hopeful on Alderweireld; pundit criticism

Tottenham face Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow in a crucial Champions League tie, and Dele Alli has called on his team to be more ruthless. The fixture is Spurs second at Wembley in this season’s competition, and they will be keen to improve on their opening game defeat to Monaco.

To their credit, Mauricio Pochettino’s side secured a vital 1-0 win away to CSKA Moscow, a result that puts their European fate back in their hands. Two ‘home’ wins will put them on the brink of qualifying for the knockout stages, though they will still harbour ambitions to top this group.

Speaking after Tottenham’s frustrating 1-1 draw at West Brom in which he scored a late equaliser, Alli said:

“I can’t wait for the Champions League, get back out there, hopefully get some minutes and try and get the win.

“We have to pick ourselves up. The boys will be disappointed we didn’t get all three points [against West Brom].

“But there was a lot of positives. We played really well, maybe we didn’t put away the chances we had but we were creating chances, which is always a positive.

“Next game we have to make sure we put them away.”

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Tottenham have the best defensive record in the top flight, but perhaps need to improve at breaking down deep lying defences. They made heavy weather of dispatching Crystal Palace and Sunderland with 1-0 wins at White Hart Lane earlier in the season, and were frustrated by Tony Pulis’ West Brom side on Saturday.

Against the other members of the ‘Big Six’, Spurs are set to perform extremely well; they are extremely well organised and are a front-footed and athletic team who are tough to play against. However, whether they can make the next step up to win the title will depend on putting the lesser likes to the sword with greater ease.

Elsewhere, the club are optimistic that Toby Alderweireld’s injury is not too serious. The Belgium international suffered an awkward landing after a collision with compatriot and defensive partner Jan Vertonghen, and his leg planted in nasty fashion. Since joining the club 15 months ago ,the former Atletico Madrid and Ajax man has been outstanding at the heart of Spurs’ back four, and has arguably been the best centre back in the Premier League. If Tottenham are to sustain a push for the title, they must hope that he does not miss a substantial chunk of the campaign.

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Finally, ESPN pundit and former Chelsea player Craig Burley has expressed his surprise at Heung Min Son’s omission from the starting line-up against West Brom. The South Korean forward has been one of the surprises of the season, given that he asked for a move back to the Bundesliga in the summer. In the absence of Harry Kane, Son has stepped up to fill the void and was especially dynamic against Manchester City. It may be that Pochettino was exerting caution following the international break, but Burley said:

“He didn’t start and he wasn’t the only change Tottenham made for this game, and if it’s injuries I understand, but I don’t get changing a team for the sake of changing it.

“Yes players were on international duty, and yes played have travelled, but if I’m Pochettino I just want to get that continuity back on the field. If it was just team rotation then Pochettino got it wrong.”

Spurs played well enough to win the game comfortably, but ran into Ben Foster in inspired form. Nevertheless, expect to Son back in the fold for Leverkusen.

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