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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottneham: Best defence in Europe; Alli injury doubt; midfielder limps off against Holland

Spurs haven’t quite scaled the heights of last season in terms of performance levels, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side remain unbeaten in the league. Scoring goals from open play remains an issue, and doubts remain as to whether Spurs have the craft and guile to win the title. However, Opta stats have confirmed that Tottenham have the best league defence in Europe, conceding just 0.55 goals per game. Spurs have kept up this good record despite the recent absence of Toby Alderweireld, possibly their best individual defender, which shows there is a collective strength to the side. If Tottenham can maintain this miserly defensive record and add more goals then they will be a very difficult team to stop.

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There is a certain irony at work at White Hart Lane. For all their flaws, Tottenham have always been renowned for flair; from Hoddle to Ardiles, to Keane and van der Vaart. What they always lacked was rigour, discipline and organisation, which is what Pochettino has added these qualities in abundance. The adjective ‘Spursy’ was coined to describe the inevitable act of self-destruction that seemed to plague Tottenham for years. However, if there is something missing in this team it is a little bit of stardust to haul them over the line in tight games. Spurs continue to have too many draws and some more creativity would be welcome.

Elsewhere, according to The Sun, Dele Alli could miss Tottenham’s game against West Ham after the international break with a knee problem. The England international was omitted from Tottenham’s squad for the north London derby at Arsenal and might not have recovered in time. The former MK Dons midfielder has had a few difficult games this season, perhaps because Moussa Dembele has been in and out of the team. The Belgium international is adept at receiving the ball in tight areas and retaining possession. Alli’s main strength is his off-the-ball running that gets him into dangerous areas in the final third from where he can take the final pass or shot. Dembele’s dexterity and technical security gives him greater freedom and means he doesn’t have to come to the ball with his back to goal, which he is not great at.

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Speaking of Dembele, Spurs are sweating on his fitness after he limped off during Belgium’s 1-1 draw with Holland. Dembele was doubtful for the Arsenal game with an ankle problem, but made the starting XI despite little time on the training pitch. He was one Tottenham’s best players last season but has struggled from regular game time this season due to injury and the suspension for his behaviour at Stamford Bridge last season. Vincent Janssen also went off with a head injury during that game, so Pochettino will want to get his charges back in one piece.

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