This is Pochettino's best approach to being Dembele-less

Arsenal's Hector Bellerin in action with Tottenham's Dele Alli (C) and Mousa Dembele

Belgian Mousa Dembele star is missing again against Crystal Palace, but has the Argentine's best method to dealing with his absence, Dele Alli, been staring him in the face all along?

Tottenham's Mousa Dembele in action with West Brom's Craig GardnerTottenham's Mousa Dembele in action with West Brom's Craig Gardner

Tottenham Hotspur have struggled to secure three points in any of their last five Premier League games, and Mauricio Pochettino could have the key to tackling the absence of Mousa Dembele - if he only cast his mind back to last season. 

The second fixture in this winless run was blighted by the absence of Dele Alli through suspension, with Dembele joining the England international on the sidelines for the final two games of the season - unexpected defeats at home to Southampton and away to relegated Newcastle - as he began his six-game ban for his coming meeting with Diego Costa during the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Spurs also looked really poor in the first half against Everton in their first game this season, as they failed to link their midfield play to their attacking players - a problem that was fixed in the second half by introducing a second striker and pushing Alli deeper into midfield.

Everton's Idrissa Gueye in action with Tottenham's Dele AlliEverton's Idrissa Gueye in action with Tottenham's Dele Alli

And with Mauricio Pochettino still set to be without Dembele for the next three games, continuing with this weekend's game against Crystal Palace, it is a surprise that he hasn't picked the side that helped Spurs achieve one of their best results last season - a rarity in that it was a top performance without the Belgium international's involvement.

Tottenham beat Manchester City 4-1 at White Hart Lane in September with Dembele out of the squad with an ankle problem, and it saw Spurs start with a midfield of Eric Dier alongside Dele Alli in the pivot, Christian Eriksen playing behind Harry Kane and Erik Lamela and Heung-Min Son out wide.

It was arguably the moment Pochettino's pressing work realised itself, especially in the second half, and went a long way to giving the Spurs players the confidence that they could dispatch the top sides in the division.

Eric Dier celebrates scoring the first goal for Tottenham with Dele AlliEric Dier celebrates scoring against Manchester City with Dele Alli

Strangely, Pochettino didn't start with this line-up in any of the other six league matches Dembele missed following the win, though two of those Alli was unavailable for.

And if the Argentine wishes to stick with his 4-5-1 formation, he should consider the option of dropping Alli deep and moving Eriksen inside as a default for any match that he has to cope without the Belgian - starting with this weekend's fixture against Crystal Palace.

Alli is the most similar player to Dembele in the Spurs squad, despite excelling further forward, and the 20-year-old could come in alongside Dier and offer the same bullish approach while also being able to carry the ball forward and link up with those ahead of him. 

Manchester City's Fernando and Bacary Sagna in action with Tottenham's Christian EriksenManchester City's Fernando and Bacary Sagna in action with Tottenham's Christian Eriksen

Eriksen is a completely different kind of player, but his playmaker qualities can certainly work playing off the striker, a position he would arguably rather play every week.

With Dembele often experiencing knocks, and Tottenham struggling to bring in a forward-thinking midfielder who can deputise for him, this tactical switch would mean Pochettino has to make minimal adjustments to a style of play that he favours and is also something that has worked well in the past.

Tottenham's Mousa Dembele in action with Southampton's Jordy ClasieTottenham's Mousa Dembele in action with Southampton's Jordy Clasie

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