It was a vintage performance for the powerful Belgian, as Mousa Dembélé bossed midfield proceedings in Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Manchester United.
Dembélé has long been a topic of debate amongst Spurs fans. Instrumental in previous campaigns, it’s no secret nagging injuries and age have taken a toll on the midfielder.
Even this season some of his performances have been called into question, with the 1-1 draw at Southampton being particularly slated. During that match he was a step off the pace, struggling to reach top gear, the result of which leading to a host of unnecessary fouls.
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However, Dembélé proved his naysayers wrong once again in one of his best shifts in a Tottenham shirt on Wednesday evening.
During his encounter, he completely silenced United’s midfield, holding some of the world’s best in check. In particular, he kept the playmaking Frenchman Paul Pogba from taking a foothold.
The Belgian, though being booked only 12 minutes in, managed to keep his head for the duration.
In the below tweet here from Haaris Ahmed, Dembélé’s full display is summarized. He worked tirelessly to hold on to possession, always moving the ball forward with exacting intent.
His defensive contribution was also admirable, as he worked to link the back four with the attacking three. Whenever United broke for an attack, the Belgian was there to quash their forward progress.
When Dembélé is on his game, he is unstoppable. His unique combination of skill and power allow him to effortlessly skip by any player, while muscling the next challenger to the ground.
Dembélé, at 31 years of age, has managed to sustain his influence on the starting 11, somewhat helped by Harry Winks’ latest injury setback. Currently on a deal that runs until 2019, the question whether to keep or sell the bullish Belgian could come into question.
His latest performance should make the answer to that question crystal clear, as Tottenham don’t possess another player like him. Finding a long-term replacement of his experience and stature will be like sourcing a needle in a haystack.