Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo appeared to have found a midfield solution in Sunday’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa – but his selection raised further questions about where Dele Alli fits into his team. Alli was dropped from the line-up which was torn apart by Arsenal last weekend, and his replacement Oliver Skipp was crucial in ensuring Spurs sealed a much-needed win on Sunday.
Nuno has tried a number of different midfield combinations in recent weeks – none with success as Spurs slipped to three straight Premier League defeats.
An engine room of Skipp, Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was too defensive against Crystal Palace, even with Alli playing in front of them as a 10.
Against both Chelsea and Arsenal, Nuno turned to Skipp from the bench to try and give his side more control in midfield having gone behind to their London rivals.
In the North London derby last weekend, it was Alli who made way for Skipp at half-time, and while it helped Tottenham gain more of a foothold in the game, the damage was long done with the Gunners having gone 3-0 up inside the first 35 minutes.
And it begged the question of where Alli fits into Nuno’s plans, other than as a back-up option either in midfield or attack.
The former England star was frozen out for much of last season under Jose Mourinho, and now appears to have lost his place as a first-choice pick for his new boss.
Had Spurs not regained their lead immediately after Villa’s equaliser, Nuno may have turned to Alli to try and create an opening.
But when Ndombele was taken off after fading in the second half, it was Giovani Lo Celso who came on – and it is clear that Alli once again finds himself fighting for a place in this Tottenham team.