Dele Alli

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Why are we so concerned with Dele Alli and diving?

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Another weekend, another debate about Dele Alli taking a tumble in the penalty box.

Rinse, repeat.

There should be no debate about the latest penalty kick he won late on against Rochdale in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday. He was clearly fouled and both opposition players and their manager had no complaints as the nimble Englishman went down under contact.

Alli, 21, was brought off the bench to try and drag Spurs back into the game and he did just that with Harry Kane slamming home the spot kick Alli won to put Spurs 2-1 up late on, only for the Premier League side to let in a late equalizer against their third-tier opponents to set up a replay at Wembley in 10 days time.

Yet it is the constant hubbub around Alli and diving which is the biggest issue which needs to be addressed because we are not focusing on the problem of simulation and how best to solve it.

With three yellow cards for simulation while playing for Spurs in the Premier League (more than any other player since 2015-16), plus his manager Mauricio Pochettino saying he understands diving to gain an advantage after Tottenham’s controversial 2-2 draw at Liverpool earlier this month, Alli is in danger of being pigeonholed as a cheat, if he hasn’t been already.

Speaking after the FA Cup game this weekend, Rochdale manager Keith Hill discussed the 88th minute penalty being awarded and Alli’s actions.

“I’m led to believe he was looking for it, but why not? If players feel there is an opportunity to be gained then brilliant, I don’t hold it against him,” Hill said. “I don’t blame him and I don’t have a problem with it. Whether it’s him, Harry Kane or [Rochdale’s opening scorer] Ian Henderson, it doesn’t matter who does it. If he does that for England in the World Cup this summer then I will definitely be supporting him.”

Comments like this, although deemed to be supportive by Hill, are the reason why Alli is being branded a cheat. Instead of vilifying him, the bigger issue of simulation in the game should be the focus. But it’s not. Lengthy bans have been discussed, so too have sin bins, but nothing is really being done to eradicate the issue.

Yet if someone praises Alli for initiating the contact and going down, he’s hammered. If he’s criticized for going down too easily, he’s hammered. He’s in a lose-lose situation. But why is Alli being singled out for special treatment?

Quite simply, it’s because he’s a special talent and because he is the next great hope for England, even if this season he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of being crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year in each of his first two Premier League campaigns. Pochettino’s recent honest comments (which he since stated were taken out of context as he doesn’t condone diving) haven’t done the reputation of his players much good with Kane, Erik Lamela and others also scrutinized heavily after recent tumbles in the box.

“To stop the game, to punish people. Some 20 years ago, 30 years ago, it was like all congratulate the player when he tricks the referee. If you remember the football 30 years ago. That is the football I was in love with when I was a child. Football is about trying to trick your opponent. You know? Yes or no? Tactic – what does tactic mean?,” Pochettino said. “When you do some tactics it is to try to trick the opponent. You say, ‘Oh I play on the right but I’m going to finish on the left’. It’s a mix that I am worried that maybe we are going to kill the game. We love this game.”

Purists within the English game have long lambasted and singled out foreign imports (rightly or wrongly) for taking tumbles in the box, going down too easily and trying to con referees into giving them an advantage.

Many foreign imports to the PL who have since admitted they were taught at a young age to go down if they felt contact in the box which further enraged the debate. Now, with the heavy international influence at each PL club, we have seen simulation become a bigger part of the English game over the past decade and more anger emerge from pundits, coaches and fans alike.

A new rule introduced this season to retrospectively ban any players found guilty of diving (if the incident wasn’t spotted at the time by the officials) has seen Oumar Niasse and Wilfried Zaha banned, although Zaha won his appeal against the decision, and it seems to be having some impact, but it’s still not doing enough to stamp out simulation in the English game.

The initial impetus officials had at the start of the season to try and get rid of simulation has dwindled and old habits are sneaking back into the game.

Is Alli the only player who goes down often? No. Yet the way Alli plays the game, we will more often than not see him clattered into in the box. He flicks and pokes balls past defenders and his relatively slight frame means he will likely go down under contact from a bruising center back or midfielder. That’s just science and it’s the same for many other talented attackers who are built for speed and agility rather than strength and power.

Alli’s reputation as a hothead supersedes these simulation allegations and previous bans for punching opponents in the stomach, lunging into tackles to be sent off and off the ball incidents certainly do him no favors in proclaiming his innocence.

But the vendetta building against him as a serial cheat needs to end before this vicious cycle gets further out of hand and his talent erodes amid the jeers from opposition fans.

It’s unlikely that Alli, like many players, will stop going down in the box anytime soon if he feels contact from an opposition defender. The sooner everyone starts to accept it, the sooner everyone can move on and focus on trying to eradicate serial simulation in the game once and for all. Be it with lengthy bans, sin bins or straight red cards, something drastic must be done.

That’s the bigger issue here. Not Dele Alli.

Spurs impress in comeback draw at Juventus (video)

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A Christian Eriksen free kick gave Tottenham Hotspur a pair of away goals and a 2-2 Tuesday draw headed back to London in its UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie with Juventus.

It was an incredibly impressive result, and the performance matched: Spurs had nearly two-thirds possession and out-attempted their Italian hosts.

The second leg at Wembley is March 7.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A wild first half saw Gonzalo Higuain score twice and be denied a hat trick on a penalty kick in stoppage time.

Higuain scored after two minutes in Turin and then scored again from the spot in the ninth minute after Ben Davies took Federico Bernardeschi down in the box.

Then Dele Alli held up the ball, and Kane danced around Buffon to make it 2-1.

That score did not look safe to make it to halftime when Serge Aurier committed a needless foul in the box. Higuain stepped up to the spot… and hammered the crossbar.

The Eriksen free kick was a rare Gianluigi Buffon error.

Dele was fouled, and Eriksen was set to try his luck. His audacious low effort worked, but Buffon will want this back.

Tottenham 4-0 Everton: Spurs smack Big Sam’s Toffees

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  • Kane becomes Spurs leading PL scorer
  • Son with goal, assist
  • Toffees winless in five, pointless in three
  • Tosun makes Everton debut

Harry Kane made history and Heung-Min Son terrorized the Toffees as Tottenham Hotspur battered Everton 4-0 on Saturday.

Kane scored twice to become Spurs’ all-time leading scorer in the Premier League, Son recorded a goal and an assist, and Christian Eriksen scored the final goal of the blowout as Spurs went above Liverpool on goal differential before the Reds face Man City on Sunday.

Everton is ninth with 27 points, seven points clear of the drop zone. Sam Allardyce‘s men are winless in five and have lost three straight league matches.

New striker Cenk Tosun played a little over an hour for his Everton debut, but was deprived of service.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The game opened up in the 22nd minute, as Wayne Rooney nodded in but was offside and Spurs would’ve answered at the other end were it not for a Jordan Pickford save.

Son joined Jermain Defoe as Spurs players to score in five-straight home matches, passing home in the 26th minute to give the North Londoners a lead.

The South Korean then got an assist on Kane’s goal, using a sublime turn to dart down the left flank before cutting square for the star striker to pass beyond Pickford.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Son played Dele Alli through on Pickford moments later, but Dele opted for his right foot instead of left and the Everton keeper shut him down. Son hit the post before the hour mark and was recalling Cristiano Ronaldo with his vision and power.

It was Kane who’d score next, though, tapping an Eric Dier pass beyond Pickford for his Spurs’ record goal.

Pickford made a pair of fine saves on Son and then Dele in the 77th minute.

He’d be back to looking behind him when Son played Dele the ball near the 18, and the latter backheeled for Eriksen to belt home. 4-0.

Pochettino: Spurs needed to kill off Swans earlier to ease anxiety

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It was a downpour at the Liberty Stadium, watery Wales if you will, and Tottenham Hotspur was only ahead via an offside Fernando Llorente goal.

But despite 68 percent possession, Spurs were always one mistake away from losing two points. Dele Alli did manage a goal in the 89th minute but, as Tottenham saw earlier this season against Burnley, you have to put teams away.

[ RECAP: Swans 0-2 Spurs ]

Mauricio Pochettino says it’s clear Spurs deserved the points over 90 minutes, but wasn’t excited with his team’s finishing. From the BBC:

“When you don’t kill games sometimes you pay and one thing can change everything so we were anxious to score the second. It was late in the game but we felt the happiness and the three points was massive. Now we rest and work in the video room because we have another game so soon.”

Spurs play again on Thursday against a West Ham team which came back to beat West Brom 2-1 on Tuesday. The fifth place side will start Harry Kane after saving him for a 22-minute sub role on Tuesday, and aim to keep pace with the Top Four.

Burnley 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Kane joins Shearer in style

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  • Kane scores 13th, 14th, 15th of season
  • Sets PL record for goals in a year
  • Pope shines for Burnley

Harry Kane has joined Alan Shearer as the only players to score 36 goals in a Premier League season as Spurs clobbered Burnley 3-0 on Saturday at Turf Moor.

Kane has one more chance to take sole possession of the record, on Boxing Day at home to Southampton.

The win boosts Spurs fifth, a point back of Liverpool, while Burnley drops 7th with its 32 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Let off the hook for a dirty tackle last week, Dele Alli was back at it with a yellow-card earning lunge on Charlie Taylor inside of three minutes.

Dele then won a penalty, finding contact from Kevin Long and sending Kane to the spot. 1-0.

He nearly had a second in the 17th minute when he darted in front of Nick Pope but couldn’t cut his shot back hard enough to get inside the near post.

Dele played a perfectly weighted ball for Moussa Sissoko who, 1v1 with Pope, stuttered before finding a pair of shots saved by the keeper.

A Serge Aurier giveaway led to a Burnley break, but Hugo Lloris corralled a cross that was just inches away from a sliding Chris Wood.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Spurs had control in the second half, and Eriksen couldn’t get enough power when Heung-Min Son slipped him through in the 49th minute.

As Spurs continued to whiff on chances to make it 2-0, the match felt more and more like the 1-1 draw at Wembley earlier this season.

But Kane ran onto a long ball and poked beyond Pope to insure the lead in the 69th minute.

He rolled another inside the far post 10 minutes later to make it 3-0.

Burnley made a late charge with a Sam Vokes disallowed goal and a penalty shout or two, but the match was oh-so-comfortably in Spurs’ corner.