Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League campaign is already blemished as Spurs slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Belgian side Royal Antwerp. A particularly lacklustre performance from Dele Alli will once again call into question whether he should be in and around the first team in North London, after rumours of his exit during the summer.
Fringe Players and First-Teamers Alike Fail to Impress in Spurs Defeat
Manager Jose Mourinho Makes Four Changes at Half-Time as Spurs Only Manage Two Shots on Target
It seems that Tottenham fans shouldn’t ever get their hopes up. After a disappointing opening day loss against Everton, Spurs went on a 10-game unbeaten run, with the loot of a superb transfer window under their belt.
Mourinho’s starting eleven for the game against Royal Antwerp looked to be a perfect display of squad depth. Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn and Harry Winks were all included – three players who many would assume could claim they deserve to be starting every game.
Based off their performances in Belgium, that claim lacks weight – as a lethargic performance saw Spurs experience defeat for the first time in ten games.
Dele Alli in particular looked like a player bereft of confidence and form. Each time the ball was played to the midfielder, he looked lethargic, ponderous and altogether lost in Mourinho’s system.
The stats don’t paint a pretty picture, either. Alli had no shots, no tackles, and lost possession 11 times.
The fact he managed the latter figure in just 45 minutes is even more remarkable, for all the wrong reasons.
Alli has started just three matches for Spurs this season – he has failed to complete more than 60 minutes in any of them.
Mourinho’s treatment of the player can be compared to that of Tanguy Ndombele last season. The Frenchman was publicly derided by his manager at times. This season, however, the former Lyon player is transformed.
Indeed, Ndombele’s absence from midfield was all the more apparent against Antwerp, given Spurs’ lack of spark in the middle of the pitch.
Mourinho is looking for a similar response from Alli – but the Englishman is failing to take the chances handed to him.
Tottenham Squad Strong on Paper but Lacking Results on the Pitch
Alli will be the fall guy for Tottenham’s loss against Antwerp, but in reality, this was a poor performance in all areas.
Bergwijn and Winks were both anonymous. The latter was lucky to not be subbed, as he increasingly looks out of his depth at European level (one superb game against Real Madrid in the Champions League aside).
Bale’s form will be concerning to many Spurs fans. The Welshman’s return to Spurs is a great story – but football doesn’t have time for romance. It is clear that Bale has lost significant amounts of pace. Whether Mourinho decides to play him in a more central position going forward remains to be seen.
For all the optimism surrounding Spurs and their transfer window business, there still seems to be a lack of quality when it matters most.
It certainly isn’t a “panic stations” moment, though. Players such as Bergwijn need time to adapt, much like Ndombele did. Bale is still getting back to full fitness, too.
However, if Spurs are to deliver a trophy this year, then the squad players need to up their game.