Mercurial Mousa Dembele is right at the heart of Tottenham’s title challenge
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It was another majestic display from Tottenham against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday as they secured a sixth consecutive Premier League victory – and right at the heart of it was Mousa Dembele.
The Belgian’s talent is unquestionable and there is no doubting the fact that his influence on Mauricio Pochettino’s side is growing as they prepare for another crack at the title.
Dembele’s midfield partnership with Victor Wanyama is also getting stronger game by game, and that has been a key factor in the Lilywhites’ impressive form, which has taken them up into second place above Liverpool.
Spurs showed off their deadly attacking flair in their 4-0 victory over the Baggies, and they also have the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded just 14 goals in their 21 matches.
Indeed, that is Tottenham’s best defensive total at this stage of any top-flight season – and Pochettino was quick to underline the importance of the aforementioned duo after the latest victory.
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“They always provide very good balance to the team – in possession and out of possession,” he said. “It was a great performance from them both.
“I think it was key [against West Brom] – with the ball and without the ball – to have that balance. It’s always important in transition when you play a team that always tries to play counter-attack.
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“They’re always in a very good position without the ball and knowing what they need to do. They are key in that dynamic.”
Dembele has been accused of going missing in big games in previous years, but that has been far from the case this season.
Pochettino described him as a “genius” following the draw at Arsenal in November, and he also put in a dominant display when Spurs beat league leaders Chelsea earlier this month.
Just as importantly, Dembele has maintained that level of performance against inferior opponents as well. His display against Albion on Saturday was simply faultless as he yet again commanded the midfield and fed the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.
Kyle Walker gave Dembele a glowing tribute earlier this week, stating: “In training I hate him because he’s so frustrating, I can’t get the ball off him. But when he’s playing for you on a Saturday it’s fantastic. It’s a joy to watch and the ball is like glue – it doesn’t move from his feet.”
If Spurs are to harbour genuine hopes of challenging for the title again they must continue getting the Belgian on the ball, allowing him to drive through the midfield and unsettle the opposition.
Dembele recently confessed that the cash-rich Chinese Super League could be a tempting location for older players, but the longer the 29-year-old stays at White Hart Lane the better – both for Spurs and the neutral.
n Another Spurs midfielder, Tom Carroll, has left the club and signed for Swansea in a £4.5million deal.
The 24-year-old academy graduate, who spent the 2014-15 season on loan with the Swans, only started four league games for Tottenham.