Dele Alli was magnificent with his runs in-behind helping to run up the score, as it finished Spurs 5-0 Swansea at White Hart Lane.
Subdued at the start, we then won at a canter with Dele Alli returning to his menacing best. His runs off and beyond Harry Kane stretched the Swansea back line, which was proving particularly stifling at the outset. Dele’s penetrating bursts forward made the first four goals, as we cruised to a final score of Spurs 5-0 Swansea in our Premier League clash.
Swansea’s subduing shape
Swansea came to frustrate from the outset. Bob Bradley his flirted with a number of shapes and systems during his time in charge. His defensive 4-3-3 here was intended to drop off and restrict both the space in-behind and in the centre of the pitch.
It proved particularly successful until the first goal. Swansea were compact and narrow, giving up little space in central areas. This naturally stifled our plethora of players that like to drift in to the middle of the pitch to overload the opposition. Bradley was determined to not be beaten in here.
Son was effective dribbling, albeit often back inside in to the traffic. Walker whipped in several dangerous crosses. One found Harry Kane’s head, another ended up being an effective shot that forced a good reaction save from Lukas Fabianski.
Dele Alli runs in-behind
For 30 minutes Swansea were stifling and Spurs were subdued despite having 70% of the ball. What changed was Dele Alli started to run increasingly off Harry Kane and in-behind the Swansea defence.
This allowed two things to happen. Firstly, it fashioned space between the lines by stretching the defence. Secondly, Alli’s penetration of the back line created pockets left and right of him for others to run in to. His bursts directly created our first four goals.
Dele’s dubious penalty
Another game, another spot kick, but you don’t get these decisions without attacking space in the penalty area to force recovery challenges.
Dele Alli’s run did just that and Swansea had been warned. Alli had already been fouled twice on the edge of the area by Jordi Amat, leading to Christian Eriksen attempts from free kicks. The third time saw him run off Amat, who was caught appealing for offside, and in to the box.
Harry Kane had drifted in to the space between the lines caused by Alli’s movement. With Dele signalling where he wanted the pass, he raced in-behind the Swansea back line.
Kyle Naughton was then forced in to a recovery challenge that he actually pulled out of. Alli flopped, creating some contact himself by kicking out his left leg and John Moss eventually obliged by awarding the penalty. It was soft and rather reminiscent of a classic Ashley Young attempt to earn a penalty. I hope this doesn’t continue and Alli is not tarnished with the same brush.
Harry Kane dispatched the spot kick with confidence and it took the pressure off the team. From then on, we were cruising.
Dele Alli gets in-behind again and again
One quickly became two. Dele could’ve had it himself, had he converted his own run in-behind. Christian Eriksen got in to the space between the lines this time to release him 1v1. However, Lukas Fabianski made a great thwarting save.
The net would be bulging moments later, but from a spectacular Son Heung-Min scissor kick. Alli’s run off and beyond Harry Kane created it as he attempted to charge in-behind once more.
Kane had got between the lines as his movement short and Alli long stretched the Swansea back line all over the place. Son might have had an easier chance had Eriksen passed straight to him, but rifled home a spectacular goal of the month contender.
Swansea shape change
With his side two down and starting to be dismantled, Bob Bradley changed his shape. He removed one of his three screening midfielders in Jay Fulton, who was in danger of picking up a second yellow, and brought on a striker.
Content to sit back in the first half, he also had his side try to press us, which played into our hands. In the opening frame we had to create and work the space, now it was just being presented to us.
Our third arrived with Swansea pushing forward. They were looking to feed Fernando Llorente with his favoured crosses. A ball in was cleared and we were off with space to exploit. Alli was already running in-behind as the play reached him. Dele’s movement had once more pulled Amat out of position, creating space for Son to run in to.
As Son checked back inside in the box, Harry Kane arrived to slam home a third. Kane had started from deeper between the lines and executed a perfect trailing run, so difficult for a defence to pick up.
Dele Ali almost rewarded
Dele Alli’s runs beyond the defencepulled the Swansea backline around all afternoon. It would only have been fitting if one had seen him get the goal he deserved. He almost had it as we added a fourth.
Again, Harry Kane coming short and Alli going long created space between the lines. Kane received the ball from Mousa Dembele and charged forward. He ended up sliding the ball once more through for Alli who was in again 1v1 against Fabianski.
As he did in the first half, the Swansea keeper once more came out to reduce the angle. Thwarting Alli then, this time the ball pinged off Fabianski’s foot and up in to the air. It looped agonisingly goal wards and was bundled in by Christian Eriksen, 4-0.
Moussa Sissoko gets in on the act
Four goals to the good and Mauricio Pochettino rang the changes. He introduced the recently criticised Moussa Sissoko on the right.
Sissoko looked much more purposeful and direct in his play, creating the fifth and final goal. His run in-behind, as Dele Alli had been doing all afternoon, was beautifully found by Jan Vertonghen. Sissoko then showed poise to lay the ball back perfectly for the arriving Eriksen to sweep home. Spurs 5-0 Swansea and the rout was complete.
Spurs 5-0 Swansea overall
The Dele Alli, Harry Kane partnership that was responsible for so many goals last season was back to its fluid best. Kane coming short, Alli running beyond and creating havoc, it was beautiful to watch. The movement of Alli created space, chances and goals for others, including a brace for the much-maligned Christian Eriksen.
Moussa Sissoko has been nothing short of woeful since arriving. However, it was good to see him making the out-to-in run from wide, a Mauricio Pochettino trademark, for the fifth goal. Proof that the coaching is starting to get through and that he is getting to grips with what is required. Baby steps, but on that passage of play, he at least resembled something of the player we thought we’d signed.
Dele Alli was the game’s most influential and outstanding player. However, a mention also for Eric Dier whose passing was aggressive and purposeful. His ball movement was often direct, over distance and occasionally Alderweireld-esque. His neat aerial pass to Kyle Walker set us off and racing for the second goal, as he looked to shift the ball with intent all afternoon. Jan Vertonghen was also in the act for the fifth, proving that both can play that long diagonal pass which is needed to stretch defences in Alderweireld’s absence.
Final score: Spurs 5-0 Swansea
MOTM: Dele Alli.