Did Mousa Dembele fail his midfield audition at Crystal Palace?

Mousa Dembele

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder started alongside Benjamin Stambouli but neither impressed as the north London side were overrun.

In recent weeks, a clear first-choice central midfield pairing has emerged under Mauricio Pochettino.

Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb have been the Tottenham boss's go-to-guys and their influence was clear for all to see when the north London side beat league-leaders Chelsea 5-3.

Against Crystal Palace, however, Pochettino was forced to start with Mousa Dembele and Benjamin Stambouli. The result was disappointing for Spurs fans.

There was no drive, no control, no discipline. Crystal Palace were allowed to dominate proceedings all too easily - and all after Tottenham had taken the lead.

Once Harry Kane put Spurs 1-0 up, it was as though Pochettino's men had given up on a game they appeared in no immediate danger of losing.

So where does that leave Dembele, who had recently dropped down the pecking order after a poor run of form at White Hart Lane?

The absence of Mason and Bentaleb appeared to hurt Spurs greatly. Once Adlene Guedioura came on, Crystal Palace took control of the middle of the park. Stambouli was far too reckless and Dembele barely influenced the game.

Since being dropping from the starting XI, of course, the 27-year-old has impressed, delivering strong performances from midfield and showing strength as well as controlled and measured passing.

But none of those qualities were on show at Palace on Saturday. And Dembele may have blown his big audition when it comes to earning Pochettino's trust.

As divisive as Mason and Bentaleb appear to be among fans, they are Tottenham's best central midfielders right now by a distance.

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