England's Young Heroes Spurred in Hunt for Premier League Glory

England's Young Heroes Spurred in Hunt for Premier League Glory

It's important not to overstate the importance of England's friendly win over Germany on Friday evening. Yes, it was perceptibly a crystallising moment for Roy Hodgson's young lions, coming from behind to down the reigning world champions in their own backyard. In the second half, as Mario Gomez pumped a perfectly placed header into the bottom corner of Fraser Forster's net, England suddenly caught a second wind.

Interestingly however, the synthesising factor was Tottenham. In a sign of how far Mauricio Pochettino has taken his Spurs side, Dele Alli and Harry Kane stood out as leaders and innovators on the pitch, guiding the men in red to a momentous comeback against Joachim Low's deflated Germany. Alli, in particular, was supremely efficient in midfield, showing maturity well beyond his 19 years to leave the likes of Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller looking on in admiration. Hodgson eulogised Alli as a midfielder who can do 'anything.' It's becoming abundantly clear that his statement should not be taken lightly.

Kane, more pertinently, launched the fightback after his Johan Cruyff-inspired turn and tidy and finish inside the box to make it 2-1. It's a measure of how much Kane has been able to shake the idea of him being a 'one season wonder' that Sky Sports' website is currently running an article debating whether or not the 22-year-old can surpass Alan Shearer's Premier League scoring record - while similar theories are being purported about Kane superseding Wayne Rooney as his country's deadliest marksman.

It's important, too, to applaud the contributions of both Eric Dier and Danny Rose. The latter, was inexhaustible down the left flank all night as he made Hodgson quickly forget about the Luke Shaw-shaped hole in defence. But it was Dier, the match-winning midfield anchor who joined his two club team-mates in a blaze of glory. Dier easily could have joined Cristiano Ronaldo in declaring for the Portuguese national side, after being raised in the sun-soaked climate of the Algarve - isn't Roy delighted he thought better of it?

These weren't flawless displays, of course. Dier was slightly culpable for not closing down Toni Kroos for the German opener and Alli spurned a golden opportunity when he blasted a shot well over the bar with the goal gaping. These turned out to be minor blemishes on their otherwise pristine scorecards, in a set of individual performances that probably left their club manager smiling back in north London.

Now, their attentions are shifted back to the absorbing Premier League title race with Leicester City, who had their own England hero in Jamie Vardy in Berlin. Spurs have the opportunity to close the gap on the Foxes to just two points when they travel to Anfield on Saturday evening. When the two sides last met, in October, it was Jurgen Klopp's heavily-publicised debut as the Reds boss. The game was a forgettable 0-0 but Spurs, who were criticised for lacking invention and finesse in that game, have progressed enormously in the proceeding five months.

Now, there's a spacious seventeen points separating the two clubs, who have found themselves with vastly contrasting priorities heading into the campaign's final two months. Klopp, certainly made his mark on defeating his own country. There was three Liverpool players acquitting themselves honourably in Berlin - Jordan Henderson, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana. While Lallana may not have grabbed the headlines like his Spurs counterparts, he led the hard-pressing style that unnerved the German defence.

Now, Klopp deploys his distinctive style against a man who was previously quick to point out differences in their visions of how football should be played. Pochettino likes his players to press the keeper, while the former Borussia Dortmund coach favours 'the medium block.' Their styles may be different, but their objectives are certainly juxtaposed. Pochettino knows that three points may swing the pendulum back in favour of the White Hart Lane club before Leicester entertain Southampton on Sunday.

Pochettino is noted as a demanding coach, one who is constantly striving for his squad to improve and reach new heights. But it is that exact rigorous approach to teaching that has propelled Spurs into a title race not many would have predicted during Pochettino's first season, when the club finished fifth. The Argentine's relentless work with this outstanding group of young players now forms the basis of Hodgson's Euro 2016 squad, with three key players.

It is that trio however, who have Premier League glory on their mind in the immediate future. If they continue to play with the hearts of lions, like in Berlin, it would be tough to oversee them crushing Leicester's fairytale.

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