Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli will miss the rest of the 2015-16 Premier League season after being handed a three-match suspension. The England international admitted a Football Association (FA) charge of violent conduct handed down following the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane on Monday (25 April) and will now be absent for the upcoming trip to Chelsea in addition to subsequent clashes against Southampton and Newcastle United.
Such a ban relates to a first-half incident involving Claudio Yacob, in which the 20-year-old appeared to aim an off-the-ball punch to the stomach of his opponent during a Tottenham attack. The episode was not spotted by match official Mike Jones but was clearly caught on video, meaning it could be referred to a panel of three former elite referees who were tasked with reviewing the "footage independently of one another to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence".
"The player accepted The FA's charge but contested that the automatic penalty of a three-match suspension would be 'clearly excessive'," an FA statement read. "This claim, however, was rejected following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing."
Alli, who joined Tottenham for £5m ($7.2m) from MK Dons in February 2015 before being loaned back to his former club for the remainder of their Championship promotion push, has enjoyed a tremendous first season at White Hart Lane, scoring 10 times and performing a vital role in their elevation to genuine title contenders under Mauricio Pochettino. He has also swiftly established himself as a regular at international level ahead of Euro 2016, notching his first goal for England in a 2-0 friendly win over France last year.
Although he has deservedly earned widespread plaudits for his performances, however, the PFA Young Player of the Year award winner has also occasionally demonstrated something of a mean streak. He was lucky to avoid being dismissed for a petulant kick to the midriff of Nenad Tomovic during a 1-1 Europa League last-32 first-leg draw with Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in February, while one month earlier his manager described him as "a little bit naughty" after he threw the ball into the face of Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt from close range.
Speaking after the clash with Yacob, Pochettino said: " I hear some comments but I have no time to see the action. Sometimes the opponent find him and try to provoke, they know he has a strong character and may react. I don't know what has happened, we will see. I have nothing to comment now but Dele has a strong character if you wind him up."
Tottenham's failure to beat West Brom means that Alli's absence is perhaps not as pivotal as it might have been. Leaders Leicester now boast a commanding seven-point advantage at the top of the table and require just three more points from their remaining fixtures to set the seal on one of the greatest shocks in English football history. They can wrap up their first top-flight title by beating Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday (1 May).