London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says he is constantly surprised by Dele Alli after the Tottenham midfielder helped fill the gap left by the injured Harry Kane.
Kane, the club’s leading scorer, has been ruled out for six weeks after picking up an ankle injury, forcing Pochettino to rejig his team’s attack.
The Tottenham manager selected South Korea forward Son Heung-Min to replace Kane against Southampton, but it was Christian Eriksen and Alli who provided the goals that secured a 2-1 victory and extended the club’s current home run to 10 successive league wins.
Alli scored for a fourth successive game with a first half penalty awarded after he had been upended by Steven Davis to take his season’s tally to 17 goals.
And Pochettino insists the England international once again demonstrated his ability to fill in in different areas of the pitch.
“Dele Alli always can surprise and you can’t guess with him,” Pochettino said.
“He has an unbelievable personality and character and it is all possible with him.
“He is a player who likes to run into the box, he is very often very clever into the box.
“In the box he looks like a striker because he is more than clever, he has made his mark. Outside the box playing like a midfielder.
“I saw him at 17-years-old playing at Milton Keynes as a holding midfielder against Manchester United. Always he can surprise me, maybe one day he can play like a goalkeeper or a full-back or a centre-back.”
– Great opportunity –
Pochettino was also pleased with Son’s display in the centre-forward role after opting for the 24-year-old ahead of Vincent Janssen.
“I think it was good. He had some chances to score, great movement, he connected with Dele and Chris and I am very pleased with his performance,” he said.
“It was a great opportunity to win and you will always miss your main striker. We must do what we can while he is injured and it was important to us to get that feeling, win the game, score goals.
“I think it keeps our position in the table with a very important three points.
“Our home form is fantastic. I think the team deserved all the prizes because we have been playing very well.
“It’s always difficult to play and keep your level in every game, but we have to be pleased to keep our position, get three points and our performance was good.
“The victory keeps us in a very good position in the table.”
James Ward-Prowse’s second half goal gave Southampton hope of a point, but they were unable to find an equaliser and defeat came at the added cost of an injury to striker Manolo Gabbiadini that will prevent the player joining up with Italy next week.
Southampton manager Claude Puel said: “It is a groin injury We will see. I hope it is not bad. For his national team it is not possible to go.
“Shane Long was ready and can play. It was a good game. There was quality on the pitch.
“It was a strange game. In the first half, without a lot of pressure, we lost two goals. It was difficult to accept the second goal.
“The second half was better and also interesting because we recovered well. We did not find a clinical edge to finish the situation.”