Dele Alli set for chance to send Tottenham to Wembley


rentford will most likely have to stop Europe’s best strike partnership tonight as they face Tottenham for a place in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley.  

Harry Kane and Heung-min Son collected more personal accolades in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Leeds, combining for a 13th Premier League goal this season to equal a 26-year-old record set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton.

But it is team accolades that now occupy trophy-shy Spurs — without silverware since 2008 — and their reliance on Kane and Son for goals is both a reassurance and of lingering concern.

If Thomas Frank’s side, like Leicester and Wolves last month, can find a way to subdue the pair across tonight’s one-off Carabao Cup semi-final in north London, the Bees will feel bullish about reaching a first-ever major final.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho has called on his support cast to step up, but Gareth Bale is not expected to be fit tonight, Steven Bergwijn may be rested, while Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso are unavailable.  

Lucas Moura, Carlos Vinicius and Dele Alli are therefore in contention and, for the latter, tonight’s match may present another opportunity to spark a revival.

Alli is in contention to return, having last featured in the quarter-final win at Stoke last month.

In Mourinho’s view, Alli has failed to grasp his limited opportunities “with both hands” and the manager’s frustration dates back to last season, when the 24-year-old failed to kick on after a bright start, particularly when Son and Kane were injured.

Alli would argue that he has a better chance of performing with his two illustrious team-mates beside him and relieving the pressure on Kane and Son in the final third would be a good way to start changing his manager’s mind. At his best, Alli is nothing if not a goalscorer and his best season remains 2016-17, when he scored 18 top-flight goals while in tandem with Kane and Son.

The midielder wants regular football and his future is certain to be the subject of speculation this month, particularly now Mauricio Pochettino is at Paris Saint-Germain. Spurs are reluctant to allow him to leave, though, believing they are unlikely to be able to sign a replacement of similar quality mid-season, while there is belief that Alli can eventually recapture the form that made him one of the best young players in Europe.

To Mourinho’s critics, his treatment of Alli is part of a pattern of picking fights with players, but Spurs’s hierarchy are conscious that Alli’s form nosedived long before Mourinho arrived. England boss Gareth Southgate, for example, has not picked Alli since the National League finals in June 2019, nearly six months before Mourinho’s appointment.

Mourinho will also be without suspended right-back Matt Doherty as he aims to lead Spurs to a first domestic final since his Chelsea side beat them in the League Cup in 2015.

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