Neil Humphreys: Walker is Spurs' pain, but Citizens' gain
Tottenham paying price for losing pacy Walker to Man City
Dele Alli must feel like kicking Raheem Sterling in the shins.
The two footballers are starring in their own festive version of the comedy classic Trading Places.
While Alli feeds on scraps, Sterling feasts on quality service, a service once provided to Alli.
They've traded places because one footballer traded clubs.
Kyle Walker's decision to venture north has reversed the fortunes of both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
When the two sides meet at the Etihad tomorrow (Singapore time), Alli could be forgiven for a wistful glance across the pitch towards his former teammate.
Walker's pace once liberated Alli, granting him all kinds of creative freedom. The former Spurs right back dragged retreating defenders towards the flanks and away from Alli.
Last season, Alli averaged a goal every 169 minutes. That figure has dropped to 438 minutes this time around.
No Walker, no diversion, not enough time on the ball, not enough goals.
Alli's shooting accuracy and shot-conversion percentages are also down as Spurs struggle to replicate that insouciant swagger of last season.
In truth, Tottenham are only two points worse off than they were after 17 games in the previous campaign, but a chasm now exists between them and their runaway opponents.
Walker isn't the only reason for the downturn of Alli and Spurs, any more than he's the only factor in City's current omnipotence.
Danny Rose's fluctuating form and dodgy temperament have robbed Spurs of their startling speed along both flanks.
Last season, North London savoured the most exhilarating wing-backs in the English Premier League. They were fast. Their opponents were often furious.
This season, Tottenham, after losing Walker, have often played without Rose too.
Rose may recover his consistency, but Spurs will need a lot longer to recover from Walker's departure.
When the right back joined City, his £50 million (S$65m) fee raised more eyebrows than a gathering of Roger Moore impersonators.
Pep Guardiola promised to clear out the thirtysomethings in favour of younger, enterprising speedsters.
The City manager had limitless funds and the cream of Europe's crop to choose from, but he bought an Englishman who'd won nothing in the game and will be 28 when the World Cup comes around.
But Guardiola saw Walker differently. Unlike John Stones, Guardiola wasn't buying potential. He was buying the finished article.
Stones, Sterling and even Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho needed a little fine-tuning in training, but Walker was complete, the missing piece of Guardiola's puzzle.
He fitted in immediately. He brought raw speed. He made the counter-attacks click. He allowed Ederson to play quickly from the back. He made Guardiola's tactical dream a reality.
After 17 games and an 11-point lead at the top of the table, Walker's £50m fee is beginning to look like a last-minute steal on Black Friday.
Every relevant statistic works in Walker's favour.
City's only dropped points came in a 1-1 draw against Everton, after Walker had been sent off. They only fail to win without him.
He already has four assists - he reached only five in the whole of last season for Tottenham.
In that same campaign, no City defender achieved more than one assist. Walker looks unstoppable. From a Tottenham perspective, his sale looks increasingly unforgivable.
Walker has made more passes this season and his tackle-success rate has also risen, rejecting that stubborn myth about Guardiola's side being filled with strutting Great Danes.
Guardiola's men run like greyhounds, hunt like golden retrievers and gleefully chase ankles like half-starved terriers.
And Walker has bought into the Spaniard's philosophy.
In fairness, Kieran Trippier, Walker's replacement at Tottenham, has matched his four assists so far and impressed the Tottenham faithful with his committed endeavour.
But Walker reaches parts of the pitch faster than Trippier.His speed makes Sterling more creative and confident, a phenomenal achievement in itself.
The winger has more space to collect possession and more time to collect his thoughts.
Sterling usually needs to do both to really flourish.
Walker's forays also allow de Bruyne to cut inside, grab his paint box and splash his shapes across the canvas with fellow artist David Silva.
Sterling, de Bruyne and Silva all benefit from Walker's presence, just as Alli and Christian Eriksen continue to labour in his absence.
Walker's loss still hurts, but it could really sting tomorrow.
Spurs may find that they can't live with him and they can't live without him.