As Tottenham prepare for Man City, Spurs midfielder has been a crucial cog, writes Raf Diallo
Mousa Dembele has been so good for Tottenham of late, who'd blame them for trying to sign him all over again.
Of course, I am referring to Spurs' failed January attempt to sign the Fulham forward also called Moussa Dembele, rather than the Belgium midfielder Mousa Dembele who is already a key part of the North London club's engine room.
Harry Kane has been firing in the goals with regularity, the all-Belgian centre-back pair of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are the core of the meanest defence in the Premier League with just 19 goals conceded and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been referred to as the best keeper in the Premier League by Neville Southall.
Eric Dier has slotted in the seamlessly to the holding role in front of the centre-backs and Christian Eriksen has four goals and eight assists from his roving attacking midfield positions.
Tottenham's Mousa Dembele, 19, celebrates scoring his side's second goal with Jan Vertonghen during the Europa League Group J soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Anderlecht at White Hart Lane stadium, in London, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
But Dembele is a player who has been as equally impressive and pivotal as his team-mates.
Pundits have long highlighted just how physically strong he is in one-on-one challenges and just how hard he is to knock off the ball. That is event in the way that leading statistics website Squawka reveals that he has won 89% of his take-on duels (attempted dribbles past an opposing player).
For a central midfielder, he is among the Top 10 dribblers in the Premier League, ranking eighth in successful dribbles per game.
Although, he not as tall and has shorter strides than Manchester City's fading powerhouse Yaya Toure, who he goes up against this Sunday in a crucial title-relevant fixture, Dembele provides the level of physical strength required to make that Spurs midfield tick.
Dier is tall and no lightweight but his role is to protect and hold, which makes Dembele's presence beside him in a more dynamic role all the more important. The rest of Spurs' regular midfield like Eriksen, Heung-Min Son - and with the exception of Dele Alli - are of the less physically-imposing variety.
In that tigerish role, the 28-year-old is the fourth most prolific tackler in the English top flight this season.
Far less box-to-box than Toure in that he creates far fewer chances and fewer shots attempts, his 89 per cent pass success rate (again a Top 10 in the whole Premier League in terms of accuracy) is the anchor to holder Dier and the goalscoring Alli and that type of balance is crucial to any midfield.
So as Tottenham head to Man City on Sunday, it's Dembele who has been flying under the radar even more so than the rest of Mauricio Pochettino's team.