LONDON • In the FA Cup as well as the Premier League, Dele Alli continues to be a catalyst for Tottenham Hotspur.
He came off the bench after 60 minutes on Sunday to give Mauricio Pochettino's team vital guile in the final third of the pitch.
His efforts played a major part in the club's 2-0 win over Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup.
With Vincent Janssen struggling to impose himself on Villa's defence, Pochettino sent on Alli.
On the touchline, Villa manager Steve Bruce exchanged a few words with the English youngster.
"I asked if he could come to play for us," Bruce said. "He said, 'Some day, Steve, I'd love to join you' - £80 million (S$140 million) might be a bit too much!
"He seems a remarkably humble young man but a very good player."
Alli made a big impact within 11 minutes, controlling the ball, turning and calmly creating a crossing opportunity for another substitute, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou.
Ben Davies did well to twist his body towards the cross and direct a flicked header past Sam Johnstone.
It was Davies' first goal for Spurs in his 68th game since joining from Swansea City for £10 million three years ago.
Pochettino's substitutes certainly delivered. Nkoudou, who had replaced Toby Alderweireld, then switched play from left to right to Kieran Trippier. Spurs' right wing-back slipped the ball to Moussa Sissoko, whose low cross was turned in firmly by Son Heung Min.
The match confirmed the depth of Spurs' resources.
Sissoko, bright and busy, went off to a standing ovation. Davies and especially Trippier proved again their temperament and talent; they would get in most sides but for the presence of Danny Rose and Kyle Walker ahead of them.
The main concern was the failure of Janssen, a £17 million buy from AZ Alkmaar, to grab his chance.
"It's true he's struggling but it's difficult," Pochettino said. "He's young, from a different league, he needs to adapt, work hard and not be frustrated. We push our players a lot and we will push him to the level we need for the team."
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN