Dele Alli has admitted his Tottenham Hotspur team were guilty of complacency in the shock defeat by Wolves that derailed their Premier League title bid. But the England midfielder has insisted there will be no repeat of that error as Mauricio Pochettino’s team chase silverware on four fronts in 2019.
That task will be made harder by the impending loss of in-form South Korean international Son Heung-min, who will be absent for a month as he represents his country at the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
But having ended 2018 with that shock 3-1 home loss to Wolves in the league, Spurs responded with a 3-0 victory at Cardiff and Friday’s 7-0 FA Cup success at fourth-tier Tranmere Rovers.
That performance on Merseyside suggested Alli and his team-mates had learnt a painful lesson from the Wolves defeat.
“I don’t think the manager needed to say too much after that, to be honest, as players we were disappointed,” he said.
“We had been in great form before that and maybe we got a little bit carried away with ourselves.
“They’re a fantastic team and maybe we just thought we would win the game. But you can’t do that if you want to win things and be a top, top team.
“You have to be clinical and ruthless in every game and you can’t afford to take your foot off the gas and we all had a look at ourselves after and we know we can’t let that happen.”
In the short term, Tottenham move onto a League Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday and also have the Champions League last 16, against Borussia Dortmund, to look forward to next month.
But after a Sunday, January 13th, home league game with a revitalised Manchester United, Spurs will face that schedule without Son who was inspirational at Tranmere where he scored one and set up two goals in a nine-minute spell at the start of the second half.
“‘Sonny’ leaving any team would be a great miss because he’s a great player but, at the same time, we’ve got players that have been working hard and are ready to come in,” said Alli.
“He’s obviously in great form and it will be sad to see him go but he will be back and we just keep going.”
Alli added: “I think seeing him every day in training, playing with him in games, you can see the quality he has.
“He’s an unbelievable player, with both feet, and has an eye for goals and he can produce magic out of nothing. So no-one’s really surprised to see him in this form because he is a fantastic player and has amazing qualities.
“But who knows? Lucas (Moura) is a fantastic player as well, or whoever the manager decodes to put in. It will change for different games, the team always does, and everyone has been working hard.”
Alli’s own form heading into the new year capped off a memorable 2018 in which he emerged as one of the biggest stars of the English game — a year he is keen to build upon in 2019 as he attempts to end Spurs’ decade-plus wait for a trophy.
“As players you want to get as far into the cup as we can, hopefully win it. We want to win trophies, that’s our aim and we’ve been playing well, we’ve been getting quite far in recent years without quite having the finishing product at the end and not getting over the line,” he said.
“But it’s about time for us, as players, we need to start winning things.”
As for his individual aims, Alli said: “I want to keep improving as a player and as a person as well but I’m not going to stop. “I’m going to keep learning and try to be better than I was last year and the year before that.”