Spurs host City seeking to strengthen their place in the top four and extend City's run of three consecutive defeats. Opponents don't come much bigger than the Premier League champions-elect, and Pochettino says that Alli will excel under these conditions.
"We’ve always told him, he needs a strong opposition to give his best," said Pochettino, as quoted by the Mirror. "In terms of his character, when it is easy – when he believes it is easy – he is not interested.
"In training sessions sometimes, if there is no opposition for him to practice finishing we have to say ‘come on Dele, if you have the capacity to score’."
Alli looks set to fall short of last season's tally of 22 goals for Tottenham in all competitions, having mustered just twelve this campaign. However, that number includes two against Real Madrid, two against Chelsea and one against Liverpool.
"If you put opposition in front of him he scores unbelievable goals," Pochettino added. "He is a little bit special, a special talent, a special character.
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"That is why people talk a lot during the whole season about Dele Alli. He is a special talent, special energy, a special player. He needs to feel the competition."
Despite Alli's occasionally indifferent form, Spurs are having another impressive season. They have all-but clinched a place in next season's Champions League, having been heart-breakingly knocked out by Juventus at the last 16 stage this year.
Pochettino's team also face Manchester United in the FA Cup semi finals as they seek their first piece of silverware since the 2008 League Cup.