Dele Alli pays back the faith: FIVE things we learned from Tottenham’s win vs MK Dons

With the 2021-22 season fast approaching, new Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo got another look at his squad during their 3-1 friendly victory over MK Dons.

It was a routine victory for Spurs, with Son Heung-min putting the visitors ahead in the first half before Dele Alli – who was given the captain’s armband – and Lucas Moura wrapped up the result in the second period.

But tougher tests are ahead for Tottenham before the season rolls around, with friendlies against London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal in the pipeline.

However, before focusing on those upcoming matches, Sportsmail has taken you through five things that we learned from Tottenham’s win on Wednesday evening… 

Nuno Espirito Santo saw his Tottenham side beat MK Dons 3-1 on Wednesday evening


Harry Kane’s transfer saga has dominated most of the headlines this summer, and it will continue to do so right up until deadline day with Premier League champions Manchester City in hot pursuit.

His possible departure would come as a monumental blow to Spurs, and they would desperately need someone else to step up to the plate and carry that goalscoring burden with a lack of realistic options out there in the transfer market.

If Kane was to depart, it would be Son Heung-min who would have to carry much more responsibility and pressure on his shoulders.

And having just signed a new long-term contract with the club, he is ready to get going once again. 

The South Korean looked sharp throughout against MK Dons, having a goal disallowed before eventually putting his side ahead thanks to one of his trademark runs in behind the defence following a lovely ball from Lucas Moura.

He then turned provider after latching onto another pass from Moura, before rolling the ball into the path of Dele Alli, who had the easy task of slotting home on the edge of the penalty area.

Son linked up very well with Alli, Moura and Steven Bergwijn throughout, which will give Nuno hope that Spurs would be able to thrive without talisman Kane.

Son Heung-min, fresh off his new contract, scored and grabbed an assist for Tottenham

Son Heung-min, fresh off his new contract, scored and grabbed an assist for Tottenham 


Under Jose Mourinho, Alli’s future at Tottenham looked bleak and former boss Mauricio Pochettino was interested in taking him on loan at Paris Saint-Germain last season.

But Spurs blocked the loan move, and Alli was forced to remain in north London with his long-term future far from clear still. 

When Mourinho was sacked in April, Alli was given a lifeline yet his future still depended on the Portuguse manager’s long-term replacement. Nuno Espirito Santo was eventually appointed, and the signs look good.

Alli has started both of Nuno’s first two games in charge, in friendlies against Leyton Orient and Colchester in which he scored in, and on Wednesday he was even handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane.

While it was only a friendly, Nuno’s decision showed a huge trust in faith in the English attacking midfielder, and Alli didn’t dissapoint in his leading role.

Alli was at the heart of most things good for Tottenham, and midway through the first half he produced a brilliant through ball into the path of Son, who then slotted home. The South Korean was however ruled offside, and MK Dons breathed a sigh of relief. 

Alli’s strong performance was rewarded with a goal of his own, after passing home into the empty net early on in the second half. He certainly showed what he is capable of against his former club, and will be desperate to resurrect his Spurs career under Nuno.

Dele Alli, who was given the captain's armband, scored Spurs' second at Stadium MK

Dele Alli, who was given the captain’s armband, scored Spurs’ second at Stadium MK


Steven Bergwijn exploded onto the scene with Tottenham after netting on his debut in a 2-0 Premier League win over Manchester City in February last year.

His electric pace appeared to give Tottenham an extra dimension in attack, and while he certainly has offered something different, his final product leaves a lot to be desired.

The forward endured a hit-and-miss season last time out in front of goal, and was subsequently left out of the Holland squad for the Euros.

He knows he needs to do more in front of goal next season, having scored just once in the Premier League last term, but he failed to provide the goods on Wednesday.

Bergwijn missed a number of decent chances against MK Dons, including in the second half when he raced through clear on goal, only for his chip to be denied by the goalkeeper.

And after seeing Son and Lucas produce some clinical finishes, Bergwijn’s lack of composure was highlighted even further.

Steven Bergwijn showed a lack of composure in front of goal during Tottenham's friendly win

Steven Bergwijn showed a lack of composure in front of goal during Tottenham’s friendly win


Just like Alli, Matt Doherty had failed to make an impact under Mourinho at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

There was excitement around his £15million move from Wolves last summer, but he struggled to live up to expectations and found himself behind Serge Aurier in the pecking order. 

But with Aurier wanting out, Doherty has been given another chance at right back to prove his case – and with his former Wolves boss Nuno in charge, that will only help his cause even further.

Doherty enjoyed his first taste of pre-season action at MK Dons, and put in a solid shift down the right.

However, tougher tests await for Doherty and he still has plenty to do to prove to Tottenham fans that he is worthy of starting at right back when the new Premier League season comes around.

Matt Doherty appears to have a lifeline at Tottenham with Serge Aurier's future far from clear

Matt Doherty appears to have a lifeline at Tottenham with Serge Aurier’s future far from clear


After Toby Alderweireld’s departure from Tottenham, the north London outfit are searching for a new centre back – and have been linked with Atalanta and Argentina defender Cristian Romero.

Spurs are short of centre back options, with Davinson Sanchez the most experienced in that position, so new faces are key.

But one man who will be desperate to prove that Nuno doesn’t need to dip into the transfer market is Japhet Tanganga.

The 22-year-old, who has been with the club since 2009, has performed well and shown bravery whenever he has deputised at right back or centre back – his usual position – in the first team.

Tanganga started at centre back on Wednesday night in Milton Keynes, and put in an assured display, clearing the danger well while blocking most things in his path. 

His performance will have encouraged Nuno, and perhaps he may play some role at centre back for Tottenham in the Premier League.