Tottenham struggled to control the pace of the game in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Saturday, and manager Mauricio Pochettino thinks he knows why.
“Without Mousa Dembele, we do not exist,” quipped Pochettino in a post-match interview. “Tottenham does not exist.”
He may have been joking, but many Spurs fans will recognise a hint of truth in the Argentine’s answer. Dembele, who is serving a four-game ban after scrapping with Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge in May, is vitally important to Tottenham’s philosophy.
Without him, Pochettino has opted for a central midfield partnership of Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama in each of Spurs’ three league games so far this season. Both Dier and Wanyama like to sit deep, meaning Totteham have looked misshapen without someone like Dembele to aid the transition between the midfield and attack.
With Ryan and Mason and Tom Carroll deemed surplus to requirements by the club, Spurs have little option but to continue with two holding midfielders while Dembele serves the remainder of his ban.
Thankfully the Belgian will only miss one more game. The sooner he’s back the better.