Why Tottenham should start Mousa Dembele against Chelsea

The Belgium international looked lively from the bench against Manchester United and could be in the running for a rare start on Thursday.

With Mauricio Pochettino in the Tottenham hot seat for six months, the club’s starting XI has taken shape - with a number of high-profile international players not included.

Although the likes of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and Younes Kaboul have found themselves on the fringes and probably correctly so, the continued exclusion of Mousa Dembele could well be something that needs to be ratified.

The gifted Belgian midfielder came off the bench against Manchester United in the Boxing Day 0-0 draw against Manchester United and looked sharp in a 11-minute cameo.

With the White Hart Lane side playing host to Premier League leaders and London rivals Chelsea on Thursday, there is certainly a case to suggest that Dembele could be in the starting XI for only the fourth time this season.

The central midfield partnership of Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb has been something of a revelation, with Benjamin Stambouli as a back-up option, which leaves Dembele struggling to fit into Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1 system.

One potential option is to move playmaker Christian Eriksen into a role starting from the left, allowing Dembele to play in an advanced central role - but his could shackle the creative abilities of Spurs’ best technical player.

Another option, and one that could well work more effectively, is deploying the skilful Belgian on one of the flanks.

Although the bulk of Dembele’s experience has been in central roles, he has all the attributes to be a real success in wide areas.

He is fast, strong, has a good work-rate, an eye for goal and is an excellent dribbler, and as such could be a dangerous attacking weapon for Tottenham.

Nacer Chadli appears to have nailed down a starting berth on one of the flanks with better showings this term, but with Erik Lamela inconsistent and Andros Townsend frustratingly wasteful, there is a clear opportunity for Dembele to feature.

Against Chelsea in particular Spurs will potentially need a moment of magic or an unpredictable character to do something unexpected; Dembele could well be that man given an opportunity.

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