Whilst most assumed that Togo’s exit from the African Cup of Nations would ensure that Emmanuel Adebayor would return in time to face Newcastle United this weekend, flight confusion and the striker’s statement that he is exhausted has made it unclear whether he will be able to start at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
The Belgian used to play in a far more advanced role than he does now, and whilst he has never been prolific, his ability on the ball should give Spurs the ability to retain possession in dangerous areas. Moving Dembele would also mean that Spurs would be able to keep Gareth Bale in his current position, where he is in scintillating form.
However Dembele has been in fine form all season in the centre of midfield, and is one of the most important players in the system Spurs are using. Dembele’s physical presence, combined with his comfort either passing or dribbling the ball are essential to winning and keeping possession.
If Dembele was moved, Spurs would either need to bring in Tom Huddlestone or Jake Livermore, both of whom have looked off the pace in their limited appearances this season. One other option could be to try Lewis Holtby in the centre of midfield, but whilst the German’s work rate and tenacity would be useful, he couldn’t replicate Dembele’s imposing presence.
The hope has to be Adebayor is fit to start, otherwise Spurs will be playing someone out of position whichever of Bale, Dempsey and Dembele the choose to move upfront. However it’s probably worth keeping Dembele in the centre of the park at all costs, as the Belgian has been integral to Spurs success throughout the season, and no-one in the squad looks capable of replacing him in that position.