All-action Alli a boon for Pochettino

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has said that he is constantly surprised by Dele Alli after the Tottenham midfielder helped fill the gap left by the injured Harry Kane.

Kane, the club's leading scorer, has been ruled out for six weeks after picking up an ankle injury, forcing Pochettino to rejig his team's attack.

On Sunday, the Tottenham manager selected South Korean forward Son Heung Min to replace Kane against Southampton, but it was Christian Eriksen and Alli who scored the goals that secured a 2-1 victory and extended their home run to 10 league wins in a row.

Alli scored for a fourth successive game with a first-half penalty, awarded after he had been upended by Steven Davis, to take his season's tally to 17 goals.

And Pochettino insists the England international once again demonstrated his ability to fill in in different areas of the pitch.

"Dele Alli always can surprise and you can't guess with him," the Argentinian said. "He has an unbelievable personality and character and it is all possible with him.

"He is a player who likes to run into the box, he is very often very clever into the box.

"In the box, he looks like a striker because he is more than clever, he has made his mark.

"Always he can surprise me, maybe one day he can play like a goalkeeper or a full-back or a centre-back."

Pochettino was also pleased with Son's display up front after opting for him ahead of Vincent Janssen.

"I think it was good. He had some chances to score, great movement, he connected with Dele and Chris and I am very pleased with his performance," he said.

"It was a great opportunity to win and you will always miss your main striker. We must do what we can while he is injured and it was important to us to get that feeling, win the game, score goals.

"I think it keeps our position in the table with a very important three points. The victory keeps us in a very good position in the table."

With 10 games left, second- placed Tottenham are 10 points behind League leaders Chelsea, who are on 69 points.

James Ward-Prowse's second- half goal gave Southampton hope, but they were unable to find an equaliser. "We did not find a clinical edge to finish the situation," said Southampton manager Claude Puel.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'All-action Alli a boon for Pochettino'. Print Edition | Subscribe