Tottenham End of Season Review: Mousa Dembélé

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Mousa Dembele /

As of right now, Belgian international Mousa Dembélé is the only Dembélé on Tottenham Hotspur.

After a disappointing campaign last season, Dembélé has seemed to settle into a unique and well defined role in Pochettino’s starting XI. Ignoring the less than noble finish to Dembélé’s season, the Belgian made 2015/16 one of his most successful seasons during his tenure in north London.

Dembélé plays in the attacking half of the midfield pivot. A lot can — and has — been said about Eric Dier this year, and the combination of the two of them has gone a long way to make Tottenham run like such a finely tuned machine. Knowing that Dier is defensively responsible has allowed Dembélé to get himself more involved going forward and into a more attacking position.

Nowhere is this more evident than in his passing numbers. Dembélé completes 90% of his passes in the Premier League. This places him fourth overall in England’s top division. His ability to link play between defense and offense makes him absolutely necessary to the overall potency of Tottenham Hotspur. Dembélé’s starting position just behind the attacking four, combined with his passing completion percentage, means that the players who are most lethal going forward are getting consistent, accurate passes in dangerous areas. Again, the transition from offense to defense is imperative to a healthy attacking front.

Combined with his passing accuracy, Dembélé also has, on average, 2 successful dribbles per game, making him second among Premier League midfielders in that category. Being able to control and dominate a midfield is essential to a football team’s overall success. Dembélé gives the team confidence in possession that allows the attacking players to make positive runs without the fear that they’ll get caught too far forward, and have to defend a counter attack out of the midfield. Dembélé makes sure that doesn’t happen.

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On top of that, as other teams have adjusted their game plans to accommodate Tottenham, the responsibility of breaking teams down has fallen directly to the feet of the North Londoners. Having a player like Dembélé who is consistently able to retain and recycle possession when necessary is invaluable. Tottenham are 4th overall in possession and Dembele is a major reason why.

Dembélé’s season has been a net positive individually and for the team, however he is certainly no spring chicken and his durability will certainly be called into question in the near future. While starting 27 matches in world’s most competitive football division is nothing to scoff at, with added Champions League fixtures next season, Dembélé will be needed on all competitive fronts. While this is barely a criticism of his on field play, it’s certainly something that will need to be considered as Tottenham enter the summer and look to bolster their midfield.

Any article on Dembélé would be incomplete if it didn’t include at least some commentary on his disappointing behavior that resulted in his six match ban. In a match that seemed to push everyone over the edge, Dembélé was the worst offender. Dembélé’s offense was only slightly less criminal than that of Luis Suarez’s infamous bites. A six match ban seems like a fair punishment for someone who has no history of violent conduct prior to this. It’s a shame his season had to end the way it did as Dembélé was one of the many bright spots for Tottenham Hotspur.

Overall, Dembélé’s season gets a “B”. From an attacking midfield role 3 goals and 1 assist isn’t enough to get him into the A range. If the Premier League had a “hockey assist” or “MLS assist” statistic, then perhaps his assist numbers would go up, but they don’t and Dembélé can and should be getting himself in positions to contribute more on the score sheet. Combine that with his actions in the Chelsea match and a “B” grade makes more sense.

Next: Tottenham End of Season Review: Eric Dier

Mousa Dembélé is a great player and has found himself a unique role in the starting XI, now he just needs to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid to get himself removed from it.

Final Grade: B