Premiership Picks

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…

The European transfer window closed at the beginning of September, and it was quickly apparent just how much competition for places there will be in Tottenham’s midfield these next few months.

Not counting the defence or the centre-forward position held by Harry Kane, Mauricio Pochettino has to pick his remaining options from Son Heung-Min, Lucas Moura, Ryan Sessegnon, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso, Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Winks, Eric Dier, Oliver Skipp and even Victor Wanyama.

Alli was once guaranteed a spot in the north London outfit’s XI – 34 Premier League starts in 2017/18 and 35 in 2016/17 is proof of that – but it could be a very different story now.

Son and Eriksen – the latter of whom Pochettino hinted on Thursday deserves to be playing – look to be favoured options, while you would imagine that summer additions Ndombele and Lo Celso could be regulars seeing as the former is Spurs’ club-record signing and they have an option to buy the latter.

That still leaves Lamela – who has started all four of their Premier League matches in 2019/20 – and Sissoko and Winks, who have also been in the XI for every top flight match this term and who chalked up 85 appearances between them during the previous campaign.

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So where does all that leave Alli?

Well, the England international only made his return from a hamstring injury against Arsenal before the international break, where he had to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench followed by a 30-minute cameo at the Emirates.

Another reason the 23-year-old could be in danger of being the odd man out is the fact he simply has failed to replicate the brilliant form he showed in 2016/17 with 22 goals and 13 assists, and 2017/18 when he scored 14 goals and provided a further 17 assists.

Seven goals and eight assists last term wasn’t disastrous, but it was nowhere near the previous standards the £81m-rated star had set for himself.

Now he faces a serious battle for a spot in the XI, and unless he really steps things up he could be the surprise odd one out with so many defensive and attack-minded options available to Pochettino.

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James Beavis