When your only notable contribution of a match comes around 30 seconds from full-time, then you better make sure it’s a good’un. And in scoring a rasping 20-yard strike to send his team through to the Europa League last-16, the odds are that Mousa Dembele won’t make a more important singular contribution all season.
Of course, while we would have all liked to see some form of seasoned, experienced away performance against Lyon last night, that simply isn’t the Tottenham way and after about 10 minutes, we were already looking like a Die Hard sequel; relentlessly rubbish, but strangely captivating at the same time.
And amongst Spurs’ most offensively poor performers, was indeed the man who eventually put us through into the next round. While Dembele perhaps fell short of the spectacularly God-awful benchmark that Kyle Walker set last night, the big Belgian looked some-way off the player he did several months ago. Worryingly for us, last night’s showing was more in fitting of recent trends, than simply a one-off.
But before the pessimists start giving it the whole ‘covering up the cracks’ spiel, while his superb winner can’t sweep all of his recent performances under the carpet, supporters need to take Mousa Dembele’s current spell of poor form for what is – a spell of poor form. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a footballer experiencing a tough run of games. Not exactly a science, is it?
Since Dembele’s gone off the boil a few weeks ago, there seems to have been an unquenchable thirst for something in the way of a solid explanation. And at times, the forced post-mortem hasn’t half been difficult to listen to.
Is he up to going the distance during a season? Is he really suited to playing such a demanding midfield role? In fact, is Dembele quite the player we all thought he was a couple a months ago?
Rubbish, the lot of it.
Bar a handful of extremely elite players, all footballers in this league will experience some form of dip in performances. Contrary to popular belief, Dembele isn’t made out of mimetic poly-alloy and he is in fact human. You wouldn’t have believed it listening to some people in N17 recently, though.
Yes, the shimmies, feints and rampaging runs that were coming off for Dembele earlier on in the season aren’t quite happening for him at the moment and for as much of a knock as his confidence may have taken, there really isn’t any excuse for failing to hit a 15-yard pass straight.
But part of being a top-class player is that ability to turn it on even when things haven’t quite been going your way and the former-Fulham man’s superb winner last night was a definitive example of that. When the chips were down, Dembele stepped up to the plate and provided the goods to send his side through. That’s what separates the great players from the good and although Mousa Dembele isn’t a natural match winner, make no mistake about it; he’s one hell of a midfielder.
A difficult run of games doesn’t change that. Form, temporary, class, permanent. Remember that one? For anyone that was in need of a gentle reminder, Dembele’s howitzer proved just that. More of the same please, Mousa.