Tottenham Hotspur put in a much better performance against Manchester United today than they did against their city rivals last weekend - as they drew with the champions 2-2 at White Hart Lane.
Andre Villas-Boas has been under pressure this week after the defeat and he decided to ring the changes for his most recent encounter.
He left Erik Lamela out of the squad entirely while Aaron Lennon also came in. Vlad Chiriches was also brought in to replace Younes Kaboul - who had a woeful time at The Etihad last weekend.
And he also recalled Mousa Dembele after he put in a decent performance against Tromso during midweek.
Dembele has been somewhat outcasted since a difficult start to the season and an off-colour showing against West Ham United.
But the Belgian came in and played in a more advanced midfield position. It is easy to forget that when he signed for Fulham back in 2010 from AZ Alkmaar he arrived as a player who made his name in the Dutch Eredivisie playing off the frontman.
In general the entire Spurs midfield played further up the field then they perhaps usually do but it seemed to really benefit Dembele - who put in his best performance in a while for Spurs. Sandro did the dirty work while him and Paulinho interchanged between the attacking midfield and slightly more reserved role - it was a system that was much more fluid than the rigid and dull football recently highlighted at The Lane.
He won every aerial duel he went into and had more touches of the ball than any other midfield player for Spurs - despite Sandro’s apparent dominance in the centre.
His 78% pass success rate is certainly not something to be shirked at and his six successful tackles in the game was the best of everyone on the pitch.
So is Dembele back?
No, this isn’t the best of Dembele just yet - but it certainly looked like a step in the right direction today. He has been linked with a move away recently - Aston Villa, Newcastle and Napoli all linked - but the decision to start him today seems to show us that AVB still has plenty of faith in the Belgian.
On the day that the man who brought him to England, Martin Jol was sacked it seems that Dembele has put himself in contention.
But what did you think?
Here is some Twitter reaction to the performance against Manchester United …
If am not wrong i think Dembele is far much better player compared to jones, Cleverly and Anderson.— Edwin Masiga (@Emasiga) December 1, 2013
Spurs are lots better with Dembele on the pitch. But AVB already knew that.— Brad (@1922Brad) December 1, 2013
Impressed with the performance. Dembele was fantastic. Disappointed we didn't get the win. #coys— NASCAR YID (@joshnkay) December 1, 2013
Actually thought Paulinho did well today. Linked up with Soldado and like him pushing on. Dembele on the other hand, useless— IWantMyTottenhamBack (@vardonTHFC) December 1, 2013
Many (Including myself) have underestimated Dembele recently. Fantastic today. Really enjoyed seeing him, Sandro & Paulinho in the middle.— The Spurs Brain (@TheSpursBrain) December 1, 2013
Think today also highlights the importance of Dembele in his favoured, slightly more forward role. Bar 1 arguable mistake he had a good game— Ben Alfrey (@InsideN17) December 1, 2013
image: © Erik Daniel Drost