Nobody in the Premier League is in better form than Spurs at the moment; they’ve taken more points (ten) than any side in the division since December 19. And at the heart of this fine run is the side’s English core of players. The likes of Harry Kane and Kyle Walker are well known, but it is the midfield duo of Dele Alli and Eric Dier that have really caught the eye.
Alli’s rise from promising young talent at MK Dons in League One to midfield powerhouse in England’s top flight is startling, but the 19-year-old has seemingly taken everything in his stride.
He is now one of the most dynamic and ‘continental’ midfielders in the division, and in his last seven games he has contributed to six goals – three of his own and a trio of assists – with a passing accuracy rate of 76%; a phenomenal figure given that he is tasked with playing those ‘killer’ balls. He has grown into a thoroughly modern midfielder.
Eric Dier’s rise to prominence has gone under the radar somewhat. He has been a surprise package anyway for many since joining Spurs – he left England as a young man to join Sporting in Portugal, so many didn’t even realise he was English – and after a mixed first season at White Hart Lane where he was deployed mainly as a centre back, the 21-year-old has since made the midfield anchorman position his own.
Dier has made himself a mainstay in this Spurs side that has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, and it is perhaps for this reason that he made his first appearance in an England shirt back in November. Alli too made his senior international bow this term, and there is hope then that the pair will both board the plane bound for France this summer as part of their country’s Euro ’16 squad.
It is their versatility that marks them out as key contenders for a seat on the plane. As mentioned, Dier started his career as a centre half that could play at right back, and his ongoing makeover as a defensive midfielder gives him three useful strings to his bow. If we look at England’s central defensive options we’d assume that Chris Smalling and John Stones are inked in, but Phil Jagielka has been absent for three months with injury and Gary Cahill can’t get a game at Chelsea. This plays into Dier’s hands.
Alli too is versatile in his own way. Yes, he’s a central midfield player by trade, but he can occupy both the defensive role – he is a tenacious tackler and sound reader of the game – and a more attacking function in Roy Hodgson’s predicted 4-2-3-1 formation. That should put him ahead of more one-dimensional talents in the pecking order.
If punters want to get on then this – barring injury or a dramatic loss of form – looks a particularly safe 4/1 double for Dier and Alli to make England’s Euro ’16 squad. However, there is an urgency to act now as these prices will tumble in the coming weeks should Spurs’ fine form continue; Hodgson has already stated in a barely-disguised dig at Wayne Rooney that good club performances are the key ingredient for selection. You have been warned!