It goes without saying that Mousa Dembele was one of the most important players in the Tottenham squad. A number of the Belgian’s teammates at the club always mentioned him when being asked as to who the most talented player in the team was, an unsurprising answer given the slump in form seen since his departure to China back in January.
The former Fulham man could dribble past almost anyone in the Premier League, possessing ridiculous balance combined with a large, powerful frame that made it near impossible to get the ball off him once he got going.
It was this feature of his and Spurs’ play that freed up so much room for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Heung-min Son to work their magic in, but two of these men above all of the aforementioned are suffering most without the Belgian.
Kieran Trippier’s own goal against Chelsea looks even funnier up close. Just ask Thogden in the video below…
Alli, a man who we have come to recognise as a prolific goalscoring midfielder over the last few seasons – he has hit 10, 18, and nine goals across each of his last three league campaigns – has only found the back of the net five times this term.
Prior to his departure, an injury-hit Dembele had only managed 10 league appearances, and while the England international has suffered spells on the sidelines too, it is no coincidence that Alli’s form has dipped during a season where the powerhouse hasn’t been heavily involved.
Nowadays, whereas the MK Dons academy graduate used to have acres of space to roam in that No.10 role and a man who would be able to deliver to ball to him on his doorstep, it is looking all the more busy in there as a result of the current Tottenham midfielders’ lack of adventure – Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko and others lack that natural offensive vision.
In Eriksen’s case, the Dane looks a shadow of his usual self this season. The former Ajax man has hit five goals and recorded 10 assists in the league this term, but his influence on games has waned significantly compared to the previous campaign.
Do not wish to be reactionary but cannot initially recall a #thfc player ‘falling off’ quite as much as Christian Eriksen rn.
— Hotspur Related (@HotspurRelated) March 31, 2019
Many Spurs fans have highlighted the 27-year-old as the player whose form has tailed off drastically compared to his previous excellence, and a common denominator is Dembele’s absence in the midfield. Once again, it’s a question of the space Dembele created for Tottenham’s advanced midfielders, through the sheer attention the opposition were often obliged to give him.
Tottenham did look to be in with a shot at the title earlier in the season, but since January, their form has declined massively and now they find themselves in a serious battle to even finish in the top four – their chase for a Champions League place could have been all over right now were it not for Son’s superb run of form at the start of 2019.
If Mauricio Pochettino wants to see the man who once hit a ridiculous 18 goals from midfield reach those kind of numbers yet again and Eriksen return to his playmaking best, he must properly replace Dembele in the summer.