By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Tottenham’s wretched end to the season shows the importance of Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele, according to Harry Redknapp.
The former Spurs manager says the midfield duo have been sorely missed after being served with FA bans for violent conduct.
Alli missed the final three matches of the campaign for punching Claudio Yacob in the stomach while Dembele has served two games of a six-match suspension that will carry on into next season for eye-gouging Diego Costa.
Spurs accumulated just two points from their final four league matches of the season and ended with a humiliating 5-1 defeat on Sunday at already relegated Newcastle.
“I’m not making excuses for [Mauricio] Pochettino, but he’s lost two absolutely crucial players, in Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele, to suspension,” Redknapp wrote in his Telegraph column.
“Alli has been one of the best young players in Europe this season, while Dembele is sorely missed in midfield because he makes them tick. You need your best players and they were two massive losses. All you need to do is look at the results since they were out of the team.”
Pochettino’s side finished in third place in the Premier League on 70 points, a point behind bitter rivals Arsenal, who ended the season comparatively strongly to clinch second position.
Nevertheless, Redknapp is in no doubt as to which club are better place before the transfer window opens and preparations begin for next season.
“When the dust settles it’s still been an outstanding season for Spurs,” he added in the Telegraph. “They have qualified for the Champions League, which is a huge thing for their chairman, Daniel Levy, and done it without having to go through the knockout stages.
“They’ve got good young players, at least five of whom are in the England squad, and will be back challenging at the top again next season. They could go all the way and win the league. And if you were to ask me which team I would rather have, between Arsenal and Spurs, there’s really no competition.
“Arsenal need to buy, there is a lot of work to do. Too many times this season they’ve been suspect in certain areas, whereas I can’t see any real weaknesses in the Spurs team.”