Dele Alli 'more mature' since Claudio Yacob clash - Mauricio Pochettino
LONDON -- Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino says Dele Alli is "calmer" and "more mature" following his costly altercation with West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob last season.
Alli, 20, received a three-match retrospective ban after punching Yacob in the stomach in Tottenham's 1-1 draw with West Brom in April, which left them trailing league leaders, and eventual champions, Leicester City by seven points with three matches remaining.
In the midfielder's absence, Spurs squandered a two-goal lead at Chelsea, ending their title hopes, before losing to Southampton and a 5-1 defeat at relegated Newcastle to slip behind rivals Arsenal on the final day.
The England international will face Yacob at the Hawthorns in the Premier League on Saturday but Pochettino believes he is now more level-headed during matches.
"I think Dele Alli, from that moment, has improved a lot," the Spurs manager told a news conference. Now he is more calm on the pitch, and more mature. That is true. It wasn't a problem, I remember it was a situation that stayed on the pitch. It's true that he got banned, but it was a moment for him to learn.
"It was a difficult situation, it was a special period. If you remember, that was difficult for us, difficult for all. It's true that I think if we are clever, we must learn from that experience. I think our team is more mature than last season, for sure."
Meanwhile, Tottenham's Victor Wanyama has echoed Pochettino by insisting it is too early to talk about winning the title, despite last month's 2-0 win over leaders Manchester City.
"It is still early in the season. It [City] was a big game, but it does not make us contenders because we won. It was a tough game, they are a hard team to beat," Wanyama told Sky Sports.
"Our aim was to press high and try to win the ball as high as we could. Everyone was ready for the challenge and we stepped up as a team and showed what we can do.
"We just want to go to every game, get positive results and see from there."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.