A few eyebrows would have been raised when Spurs forked out a chunk of cash to sign Moussa Dembele from Fulham. However, there were others that would have recognised the obvious talent of the Belgian international. He is expected to be out of action for a further two weeks, a substantially shorter period of time than if he had been forced to undergo surgery on a troublesome hip problem.
The reason Dembele is so important to Tottenham is because he has the ability to drive the team forward and link the midfield with the attack. He is big and quick enough to cope with any physical battle in the midfield which also mans he is primed for protecting the Spurs defence when he is required to do so. He effortlessly switches from one role to the next which is difficult for any professional player to do.
It’s important to note that he is not out of the woods just yet. The only reason Spurs did not go ahead with surgery on Dembele is because there was no definitive proof that it would cure the problem he has. Therefore, it could reappear at a later and more crucial stage of the season when his absence would be felt a lot more than it has been. This is the risk Spurs are taking but it’s worth it in the eyes of the manager.
“We could either give him surgery immediately, but there is no certainty it will cure the problem, or he could rest, have manual therapy, train in the swimming pool. That allows the player the possibility of return within 10-15 days, so we are taking that option at the moment, without having the surgery,” said Villas-Boas as reported on UK Eurosport.
The physical effect that Dembele not being in the team has on Spurs can be taken from their last five games, which he hasn’t played. Spurs have won just one of those five matches and with Scott Parker also unlikely to return any time soon it means the midfield is vulnerable with the likes of Tom Huddlestone controlling the tempo, a player who himself has just come back from injury.
“We had extremely good games against Southampton and Norwich. Good players are missed but this squad is full of good players. I don't think it has affected the tempo and dynamic - it's more important to have players fully concentrated and motivated,” added the Portuguese manager.
When Dembele is back in the side he will add a great deal of calm and composure in the middle of Tottenham’s team. This is very important for a side looking to control and win games as they go on a quest to secure Champions League football for next season. Villas-Boas seems very confident that the club can manage the problem Dembele has to stop it from re-emerging so Spurs fans can sit comfortably, for now.
image: © Vladimir Maiorov