The final day of the season is fast approaching and it is still all to play for at both ends of the table. Man City and Liverpool are battling for the title, whilst Tottenham are in pole position to secure a spot inside the top four and it is now between Leeds and Burnley as to who will go down with Watford and Norwich.
Everton are now out of the relegation battle thanks to an 85th minute winning goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, in a game against Crystal Palace they ended up winning 3-2. It now leaves the Toffees four points ahead of Burnley and Leeds, meaning there is no way for them to go down.
At half-time, Frank Lampard’s side were 2-0 down and something had to change to help them secure the crucial points. The Everton boss brought Dele Alli on, and what a difference he made.
READ MORE:Why Dele Alli has not started for Frank Lampard’s Everton team since Tottenham January transfer
Since his permanent move from Spurs in January, the 26-year-old has struggled to get regular game time, being side-lined for many games. This wasn’t what the midfielder had hoped for, after moving away from the Antonio Conte side he was also struggling to get in.
Just a week ago, Lampard gave his verdict on the midfielder. “If Dele plays his part in these three games then great and he steps up as he’s come on at times and done good things for us,” the Toffees boss explained.
“It’s an area of the squad where we have other players who have been playing, that’s just the reality of the situation. He needs to just keep training hard and stay really well focused and fight for the opportunity.”
Dele definitely played his part in Thursday’s game, helping to completely change the game and showing the quality that has been hidden for some time. After the victory, match winner Calvert-Lewin was full of praise for his teammate and Lampard’s half-time changes.
“The manager switched it to a 4-3-3. Alex Iwobi came in midfield and Dele, forward thinking player. I think ultimately that made the difference,” the 25-year-old admitted.
“I thought Dele was excellent when he came on. He’s had to wait for his chance and he’s taken his chance in the biggest moment of the season. The change in system was the big difference and we knew that we had to get the first goal and once we got that, it was a domino effect.”
At full-time, the Everton fans were in full celebration as they all ran on the pitch to celebrate at Goodison Park. After the match, Dele’s former teammate Steven Bergwijn shared a post from Sports Bible on Instagram congratulating the former Spurs man on his performance.
“He’s had his critics all season and since joining Everton back in January, but Dele Alli was fantastic when he came on tonight [Thursday]. From two goals down, he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and pushed his team forward,” they captioned the photo.
Dele then put it on his own account with the caption: “Let them talk, what a night for the toffees.”
The 26-year-old has clearly been working through the struggles and criticism, and his performance on Thursday reiterated the impact he can have on a side when given a chance in a position that suits him. Although they don’t need to battle to stay in the top flight now, Everton will take momentum and confidence into their final game of the season.
The Toffees travel to the Emirates Stadium to play an Arsenal side who are still aiming to beat Sours to a top four place. Dele has had experience playing in North London derbies and although he has moved to a new club, the rivalry will surely still be in the back of his mind on Sunday.
That is what Conte and his side will be hoping for as, another good performance from their former midfielder can only give them an added boost in their hopes of finishing inside the top four. Spurs only need a point at Carrow Road, but that won’t necessarily be as easy as they would hope, as Norwich will be hoping for a win in their final Premier League game.
“That is our love for the last game [to finish 19th]. We want to win at home because it has been a while and we want to show a good performance on Sunday and get something out of the game,” Norwich’s Teemu Pukki admitted.
Tottenham are in the driving seat to secure their Champions League spot and so all eyes will be on them to get the needed point at Norwich, but what a final day of the season it would be if Dele Alli could also score against Arsenal too.