Tottenham Hotspur’s somewhat forgotten man Mousa Dembele found himself back in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI that impressively saw off West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
Dembele hasn’t featured in Pochettino’s league plans as much as he would have liked this season. The Belgium international, who was heavily believed to be surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane earlier this season, has only appeared in 14 of Tottenham’s 23 Premier League games thus far, but he has featured regularly in Spurs’ domestic and European cup exploits.
Since his £15m move from London rivals Fulham in August 2012, Dembele has already stacked up over 100 appearances for the Lilywhites in all competitions. But since the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino, the 27-year-old has found Premier League minutes hard to come by this term. With the outstanding emergence of young Ryan Mason, as well as the signing of the French star Benjamin Stambouli from Montpellier, fierce competition for places in Spurs’ central-midfield area has seen Dembele overlooked at times this season.
But the Belgian has started the last three matches, and he was back to his dominant best in the Lilywhites’ comfortable 3-0 win at West Brom on Saturday. The box-to-box midfielder put in a tireless display in the heart of the Tottenham midfield, looked extremely comfortable in advanced areas, and had a hand in two of the three Spurs goals, before being taken off with 30 minutes remaining with the game done and dusted. His recent stalwart performances in the side has certainly sent a staunch reminder to his boss that he still has a big part to play at White Hart Lane this season.
Dembele has had to wait patiently on the sidelines for quite a chunk of the season – but his showings of late have been a credit to his outstanding ability. More often than not, when the midfield dynamo is called upon, he rarely lets the side down. It would have been easy for a player of his stature to push for a transfer in the January window, but he’s stayed put, and it will be very interesting to see just how vital a role he will play as Tottenham head into the long, final straight of their busy season.
The north London club are going to have to utilise most of their squad players for the run-in. Not only have Tottenham already played the most games of any top flight team this season, they have a Capital One Cup Final with Chelsea to gear up for, as well as ongoing Europa League exploits. Players, such as Dembele, who are on the fringes of Pochettino’s first team plans, now have the opportunity to show the Spurs boss that they’re worthy of a place in his starting lineup.
After an indifferent start to life for Pochettino at the Lane, things are starting to look a lot brighter for the Argentine boss. The head coach has got the best out of his players, he has a healthy balance of youth and experience, and with players like Mousa Dembele chomping at the bit for a regular starting berth, Tottenham should feel very optimistic about their season’s fortunes.