Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing the Tottenham Hotspur first team players after the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Up next: Two-time PFA Young Player of the Year, Dele Alli.
Appearances: 50 (37 Premier League, 6 Champions League, 5 FA Cup, 2 Europa League)
Goals: 22 (18 Premier League, 1 Champions League, 3 FA Cup)
Cards: 7 (4 Yellows in Premier League, 1 Yellow FA Cup, 1 Yellow Europa, 1 Red Europa)
What went right?
We’re running out of superlatives to describe the 21 year old midfielder from Milton Keynes. Coming off of a breakout season that saw Dele score ten goals while chipping in eleven assists in 46 appearances, we knew that his sophomore season in the Premier League could only get better, especially with the same group of players around him. Dele’s season by itself is a good one, but the second half is what truly stands out. In the final 21 matches, the midfielder accumulated fifteen goals and seven assists, providing the scoring touch in key places when Spurs needed him the most. His brace at home on January 4 against Chelsea may be the best match he’s played, heading in two goals on similar plays from Christian Eriksen to take three points from the eventual league champions.
Video Credit: YouTube channel Match of the Day 2
Dele played exceptionally well in the FA Cup matches, coming on late against a feisty Wycombe Wanderers side that was hellbent on pulling an upset but would ultimately fail. Against Millwall he provided a goal and an assist to get Spurs back to Wembley for a semi-final against Chelsea.
Dele also seemed to show better restraint this season with his now well known temper, managing to walk away from incidents or being much smarter about his play and trash talk, with a couple of exceptions.
What Went Wrong?
Not a whole lot, but the exceptions I referred to mainly came in the form of his cards in the Europa League, primarily the challenge that got him sent off with a straight red card, meaning that he will miss half of Spurs’ group stage matches in the Champions League for the upcoming season. He’s still a very young player and maturity takes time both as a player and individual, but a mishap like this one ends up being very costly for both Dele and Spurs.
Despite how well he played this year, we have to remember that he didn’t get off to a great start. While his general play in the first half of the season wasn’t bad by any stretch, he wasn’t finding nearly as many scoring chances early on. Through the first sixteen weeks of the Premier League season, Dele only had three goals and two assists, and that stretch was coming at a time when Harry Kane was down with an injury and Spurs needed someone to step up. Obviously it’s not all his fault as the injury bug hit Spurs especially hard in the first half of the season, but it still needs to be mentioned.
As the headline says, the sky is the limit for Dele. Two years ago, we wondered what Dele was bringing to Spurs from MK Dons. Today, he’s irreplaceable in the midfield with 28 goals and 18 assists in 70 Premier League appearances. We all know he’s going to be linked to practically every superpower in Europe, but he seems committed for the next season as he has openly talked about keeping the gang together to take that final step and win a title for Tottenham Hotspur. That day may eventually come where a Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich come calling with a dump truck full of money so we should enjoy seeing him play for our club as much as we can.