Was Nabil Bentaleb the biggest loser after Tottenham's Sunderland win... despite not even playing?

Bentaleb, Fazio

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder may struggle for a first-team spot when he returns from injury.

Last weekend was one to forget for Nabil Bentaleb. Despite the fact he didn't even play for Tottenham...

First, the 20-year-old midfielder was ruled out of action for three to four weeks with injury. Then, he watched on as Eric Dier and Ryan Mason both delivered stellar performances through the middle for the north London side.

Mauricio Pochettino's men were languid for the most part against Sunderland but Dier and Mason were standout performers as they snuck out from the Stadium of Light with all three points.

Mason scored the winner and controlled play throughout for Tottenham; Dier broke play up and protected his relatively shaky back four with aplomb.

But that all makes life rather difficult for the aforementioned Bentaleb. The Spurs man endured a nightmare start to the season, erring against Manchester United - with a mistake that cost them defeat - and then being dropped by his manager.

And now, when he returns after his month (or thereabouts) out injured, he'll be hard pressed to find a place in that Tottenham team if Dier and Mason continue working so well together.

Things are a little different for the likes of Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele, of course. Spurs visibly lacked creativity further forward against Sunderland, meaning both of their absences were felt.

Bentaleb's, though, was felt for the wrong reasons. Without the 20-year-old, Pochettino's midfield pivots looked sharp, cohesive and more than capable of functioning without the Algerian.

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