EPL

Dele Alli's decline: The numbers that show how far the Spurs midfielder has fallen

By Sports Desk September 14, 2020

Dele Alli should be approaching his peak years but the Tottenham midfielder appears to be in stark decline.

From his Spurs debut back in August 2015, the midfielder's trajectory was initially impressive as he quickly adapted to the big step up from MK Dons.

An England debut soon followed and the youngster apparently had the world at his feet.

Fast forward to the opening game of Spurs' 2020-21 Premier League campaign on Sunday, when Alli was hooked by Jose Mourinho at half-time of a limp 1-0 loss to Everton, and the outlook is markedly different.

Alli has stagnated, perhaps even regressed, with any hope that the new campaign would herald a fresh start quick to evaporate. 

So just how far below his high-water mark has the 24-year-old fallen? The Opta numbers tell the story...

GOALS HARDER TO COME BY

To underline just how well Alli transitioned from the third tier to the top flight, he scored 10 goals in his maiden Premier League season in 2015-16.

That jumped to a mightily impressive 18 in the following campaign, that haul coming at a rate of a goal every 169 minutes.

And yet in 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined, Alli managed just 14 goals, with the latter season yielding five at a rate of one every 367 minutes.

To his credit, Alli upped his game on that front last term, finding the back of the net eight times, or once every 231 minutes.

His attempts on target have followed a similar trend, peaking 1.3 per game in 2016-17 and bottoming out at 0.5 the next season.  

He squeezed in one shot at goal during his lacklustre 45-minute outing against the Toffees at the weekend.

NOT GETTING INVOLVED AT THE SHARP END

Alli was a tremendous creative force for his side for several years, his debut season at Spurs producing nine assists in the league to set the tone.

He built on that with seven the following season and 10 in 2017-18, only to retreat to abject mediocrity with returns of three and four in the next two campaigns.

Those numbers contribute to a clear back-slide in Alli's ability to create chances, which once seemed so easy for him.

In three consecutive seasons from the point of his first appearance for Spurs, Alli tallied 55, 52 and then 64 for the number of chances created.

In contrast, from the start of the 2018-19 season to the end of 2019-20, he laid on just 50 chances combined.

The chances-created-per-minute stat highlights the negative trend, with the 2015-16 figure coming in at a chance created every 45 minutes, declining to one laid on every 80 minutes by the most recently completed season.

A TOUCHY SUBJECT?

Diving into even the small details does not end up reflecting well on Alli, who is simply having fewer touches of the ball than he used to.

Again, his first season holds up well under scrutiny, Alli touching the ball on average 64 times per 90 minutes, but that dropped to 60 in 2019-20.

It may only be a small change, but a closer look throws up a more revealing fact about Alli's touches in the opposition penalty area.

He peaked on that front in 2017-18, when he managed the feat 163 times at an average of 4.9 per 90 minutes. That compares to 83 at an average of last season.

PASSING THE BUCK...

For a midfielder with 37 England caps, passing should be a key skill of Alli's, and one you would expect to improve over time.

However, the numbers are again somewhat disconcerting for Alli, who did initially set off in the right direction.

In 2015-16 he completed 822 passes (30 per 90 minutes) with an accuracy of 76 per cent, which climbed to an 80 per cent accuracy when he found team-mates with 825 passes at an impressive average of 41 per 90 minutes in 2018-19.

But he slumped on that front last term, back to 2015-16 levels, with the numbers only favourable at all if you concern yourselves with decimal places.

DRIBBLES THE SAVING GRACE!

Amid all the doom and gloom, there is one regard in which Alli has made quantifiable strides – dribbling.

At least, his dribbling success has improved (for the most part!). He used to attempt to run with the ball more often, with 4.4 dribbles per 90 minutes in 2016-17, which dropped to 3.4 last season.

But his success rate has climbed from 29 per cent in his first season, peaking at 45 in 2018-19 and settling at 40 last time out.

Related items

  • Milan sign Chelsea youngster Tomori on loan with an option to buy Milan sign Chelsea youngster Tomori on loan with an option to buy

    Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori has completed his loan move to Milan, the Premier League club have confirmed.

    Tomori will spend the rest of this season with the Serie A leaders after finding first-team opportunities limited under Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge.

    Milan have an option to make the deal permanent, with the transfer fee in question - although not disclosed by either club - reported to be in the region of £25million.

    The 23-year-old made his first-team breakthrough at Chelsea last season, having impressed on loan at Derby County throughout 2018-19, when Lampard was in charge of the Championship club.

    An England debut against Kosovo in November 2019 followed and, although his rapid rise has since been checked, the Chelsea head coach believes Tomori still has a very bright future.

    "Fikayo is a developing player, a very good player," Lampard told reporters ahead of Chelsea's FA Cup fourth-round match against Luton Town.

    "I have seen him rise from his time at Derby as a good talent to one of the best defenders in the Championship and then an England international and a Chelsea regular. 

    "His journey has been great. He is going to be a top player, but he is a developing player, too."

    Milan are three points ahead of Inter at the Serie A summit as the season approaches the halfway point and host Atalanta on Saturday.

    Tomori is their third signing of this window after the captures of midfielder Soualiho Meite on loan from Torino and experienced forward Mario Mandzukic on a free transfer.

    He is also Chelsea's second loan departure following Danny Drinkwater's move to Kasimpasa of the Turkish Super Lig.

  • Atletico champions, Sevilla join big three in top four – Stats Perform AI completes LaLiga season Atletico champions, Sevilla join big three in top four – Stats Perform AI completes LaLiga season

    Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

    Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

    The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

    It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

    With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

     

    The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

    Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

    The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

    All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

    The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

     

    ATLETICO WIN AT A CANTER

    Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

    Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

    Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

    Those two are, at least, very likely to end up in a Champions League place. They are expected to be joined there by Sevilla, who have a 47.8 per cent chance of finishing fourth on 65 points, just three above Villarreal and six clear of Real Sociedad. The remaining European spot is predicted to be a close battle between Granada, Getafe and Real Betis, with Diego Martinez's men odds on to snatch it.

    Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

     

    WOE FOR HUESCA

    At the other end of a relatively tight table, in which just 11 points will separate seventh from 16th, it looks like Huesca are in for a tough run-in. They are given a 59.7 per cent chance of finishing bottom of the pile and just a 5.1 per cent shot at avoiding relegation, having won only once so far this term.

    Osasuna are predicted to end up just four points above them, with the bottom three likely to be completed by Deportivo Alaves, although Elche will also be right in the mix. In fact, with those two tipped to finish level on 39 points, survival could come down to their head-to-head record, making their showdown on May 11 potentially decisive. Elche have the advantage there, having won the reverse game 2-0 away from home.

    Real Valladolid are expected to have just enough to stay out of trouble, although they have scant room for manoeuvre, with our predictor giving them an equal 15.1 per cent chance of finishing 17th and 18th.

    Eibar and Cadiz are looking likely to stay safe; indeed, Jose Luis Mendilibar's men, along with Celta Vigo and Athletic, are given a 0.1 per cent chance of gatecrashing the top four. They might well have boosted those odds this week were it not for that pesky Suarez.

  • Odegaard to Arsenal? Madrid leave midfielder out of LaLiga squad amid speculation Odegaard to Arsenal? Madrid leave midfielder out of LaLiga squad amid speculation

    Martin Odegaard will not be involved for Real Madrid against Deportivo Alaves amid speculation he could be set to join Arsenal. 

    Odegaard excelled out on loan at Real Sociedad in the 2019-20 season but has found first-team opportunities limited under Zinedine Zidane upon his return to the Spanish capital.  

    The Norway international has failed to score or assist in his nine appearances this season in all competitions and, having made just five starts, seems keen to seal a move away in January.  

    A return to the Basque club – where he managed seven goals and nine assists in 36 appearances – appeared to be on the cards, but Arsenal have now emerged as the clear favourites to sign the midfielder on loan.  

    Madrid assistant coach David Bettoni, who is to take charge of Madrid while Zidane isolates after testing positive for coronavirus, was asked about Odegaard's future during his media duties on Friday - and hinted there could be developments in the player's situation soon.

    "What happened with Martin is something that I don't know too well," Bettoni said.  

    "I'm the assistant coach and there are some things that I don't follow too closely, so I can't give the exact context.  

    "He is an important member of the squad and we'll see what happens with him in the coming days."  

    Odegaard is not part of Madrid's squad for Saturday's LaLiga trip to Alaves amid speculation he could be confirmed at Arsenal imminently. 

    The 22-year-old created 62 chances in LaLiga last term - a tally only beaten by four other players, one of which was predictably Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi.  

    His contributions in terms of goals and assists helped La Real finish in sixth place. They also reached the Copa del Rey final, though that fixture against rivals Athletic Bilbao is yet to take place due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

     

    The addition of Odegaard would add some welcome creativity to Mikel Arteta's squad, the Gunners having managed just 23 goals in 19 league games so far in what has been a topsy-turvy 2020-21 season.  

    Arsenal have created 158 scoring opportunities, of which 33 are considered big chances by Opta, well adrift of the league-high 53 recorded by Manchester City this term. The Gunners have managed 20 goals from 221 attempts (excluding penalties), slightly below their xG figure of 23. 

    Emile Smith Rowe has been a revelation of late, contributing three assists in open play, but no individual has created more chances for the Premier League club than full-back Kieran Tierney, his total of 22 putting him one above Bukayo Saka. 

    Having been busy so far in January trimming the squad, including the impending departure of Mesut Ozil, Arteta has admitted he hopes to make additions before the transfer window closes. 

    "We are in that process right now, we have done the first part more or less and we are focusing now on the second phase," he told the media on Thursday. 

    "Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.