Gary Neville calls out Tottenham ace for thinking he’s Bruno Fernandes or Thiago Alcantara

In pictures: Arsenal v Tottenham

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Gary Neville has instructed Dele Alli to stop getting involved in Tottenham’s build-up play because he is not as good as Bruno Fernandes or Thiago Alcantara in the middle of the park. Alli had a game to forget against Arsenal in Sunday’s north London derby, with Spurs falling to a heavy and demoralising defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

Three first-half goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka handed the Gunners all three points on home soil.

Son Heung-min found the net to give Spurs a glimmer of hope with 11 minutes remaining, but his contribution turned out to be nothing more than a consolation.

The result saw Arsenal leapfrog Spurs in the Premier League table for the first time this season, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side now languishing in the bottom half of the division.

Alli was selected to start the match alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele in midfield, but the former MK Dons man struggled to gain a foothold on proceedings.

He only managed 24 touches and 13 passes before he was hauled off at the interval in favour of the more defensively sound Oliver Skipp.

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Alli was unable to break his way into the Spurs side under Jose Mourinho last season, but has enjoyed a greater level of involvement since Nuno took charge during the summer.

However, it seems as though Alli is running out of time to leave a lasting impression, with his performance on Sunday a prime example of his unfortunate fall from grace over the last few years.

Neville, who was covering the match for Sky Sports, has urged the Spurs man to play to his strengths and avoid trying to replicate the all-round style of the Premier League’s very best midfielders.

“He’s got to get back to what he was doing, he’s got to simplify his game,” said Neville after the final whistle.

“He’s an instinctive player who basically didn’t recognise that his job was to get into the box on every attack.

“To get into the box, make that run from a deeper position off Harry Kane or run past Kane when they didn’t have the ball.

“He’s getting involved in the build-up, thinking he’s a player and he’s not a player. He’s not someone like Thiago at Liverpool, Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United, Jorginho.

“He’s not that type of player. Don’t get involved in the build-up that much, Dele.


“He’s got to remove himself from the build up and get involved in the game in the latter part, in the final third.”

Alli has played in six Premier League matches this season and scored his only goal of the campaign to date against Wolves at Molineux last month.

He has not received an England call-up since 2019 and looks to be some way down the pecking order at present, with the likes of Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish having been preferred by Gareth Southgate in recent years.

It remains to be seen whether Alli can revive his Spurs career over the course of this season as he looks to re-establish himself as one of the club’s most important assets in the process.

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