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Why is he not the first name on the Tottenham team sheet?

Mousa Dembele

Things aren’t going exactly after plan for AVB at Tottenham at the moment, that’s putting it mildly. Despite heavy spending in the summer, Spurs are far from replacing Welsh wizard Gareth Bale. Right now, the north Londoners resemble a fish on land whose aquired brand new diving equipment. Bar a few encouraging performances from Christian Eriksen before he twisted his ankle on international duty and the odd glance of skill from Paulinho, their signings have contributed less than what Villas-Boas would expect when he and Daniel Levy frantically set about investing the Bale-money.

The win at Craven Cottage on Wednesday provides a pocket of breathing space, but only till they travel to the Stadium of Light this weekend. If they don’t perform against the team at very bottom of the league, even more critical questions will come in AVB’s direction. You can disagree with this, but the fact is a manager who is perceived to be under performing will always be put under heavy pressure in the Premier League. The unforgiving nature of the multimillion industry leaves no room for error.

My issue with AVB at the moment is not related to his disagreements with the press or his critique of the fans. I think Villas-Boas is perfectly entitled to voice his opinion on these matters, and besides, both topics are already receiving massive coverage. What I cannot get to grips with is why, when Tottenham are so blatantly lacking penetration, is the manager repeatedly leaving Mousa Dembélé on the bench?

The issue at White Hart Lane this season is to score goals. AVB’s inverted wingers are not getting along with Roberto Soldado, and whosoever deployed in the hole behind the Spaniard is giving him service Nando’s would shame themselves of. From what I’ve seen of Tottenham this season they are screaming for a bit of power in midfield.

I might have picked the wrong time to have a go at Sandro’s attacking contributions – that top corner strike against Man United on Wednesday was something else – but the Brazilian isn’t your average South American. Unlike his midfield partner Paulinho whose touch can be sweeter than Emma Watson, Sandro enjoy’s the rough side of the game. He used to wear a mouthguard, remember? Going forward, however, he lacks tenacity.

As for Paulinho, the little charmer, he has yet to give Spurs the penetration we expected. For me, Dembélé should be the first name on AVB’s team sheet. There are few players in the premiership who are as naturally strong on the ball as the Belgian. In all seriousness, I can’t remember ever seeing him give it away. He has the sort of presence and brawn you see in Yaya Toure when he’s at his best for Man City.

Even the stats back it up. Mousa Dembélé should be a no-brainer in the Tottenham midfield. Our stat crunching friends at have given him nearly a four times better overall performance score compared to Sandro, and by far the strongest in the Tottenham squad. In fact only Andros Townsend with his rise to stardom this season is anywhere near.

Furthermore, although Paulinho has significantly more minutes to his name, Dembélé outscores his counterpart on chances created – 16 to 14. Anyone who saw the then Fulham player tear Manchester United apart at the start of last season is bound to have fallen in love with the force of his strides when he descends on the opposition’s defence. As i said, I can think of few players in the world who provide the same kind of strength and composure.

In fact, should AVB decide to not go with Dembélé, I see no reason why Man United wouldn’t take him of his hands. A two way player who can apply himself in challenges as well as going forward is exactly what the Red Devils are looking for in January. This is of course only the opinion of a scarcely informed intern at a newly renovated online football site, but I can see no reason why David Moyes shouldn’t consider moving for the Belgian international, given he is available and willing to talk.

The two clubs might not have the best of histories together in terms of transfers, as deals have tendency to draw out into the insufferable, courtesy of businessman Daniel Levy and stubbornness embodied Sir Alex Ferguson, but should Dembélé at any point consider a transfer, I expect United to be monitoring the situation closely.

Again, I have little other to go by than what I see on the pitch and read in the papers, but that Mousa Dembélé is having to even go close to the benches at White Hart Lane is well and truly beyond me. I realize AVB is trying to build a new team, but I can’t understand why that team should be without one of the most composed players in the premiership.

Who knows, maybe somebody will put some pressure on the Portuguese manager in January by placing a bid, should he choose not to play Dembélé.

Article title: Why is he not the first name on the Tottenham team sheet?

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