Tottenham were humbled this past weekend by their bitterest of rivals Arsenal at The Emirates.
Mauricio Pochettino raised a few eyebrows with his selection, but there can be no excuse from Spurs, as The Gunners looked simply insatiable in spells throughout the match.
What became abundantly clear in the match, particularly the first 20 minutes, was how much pressure Arsenal put on Tottenham’s midfield and defence, and how they were unable to cope with it. What was also apparent was the absence of Mousa Dembélé.
Without the Belgian, Pochettino fielded Eric Dier and Moussa Sissoko, neither of whom had the calming presence on the ball that was needed in their own half. This is what Dembélé has made his name in, and was sorely missed at The Emirates.
However, with his future in doubt, and many Tottenham fans expecting him to be gone come the end of the season, the club need to find a suitable replacement for him. Of course, he wasn’t in the greatest form before sustaining his current ankle injury, but he can still hold the ball much better than either Dier or Sissoko can.
The main candidate to replace the Belgian is Harry Winks, which is perhaps why it was strange to not see him start. However, the 22-year-old started midweek against Inter Milan in the Champions League, and squad rotation is paramount to the manager during this congested period. But while Winks may well be the successor to Dembélé at Tottenham, there is still a huge need to increase the depth of quality in the midfield at Tottenham.
The club cannot solely rely on Winks to replace Dembélé, and there looks to be too many players that may struggle in the midfield for Spurs without someone that is comfortable on the ball. If the club fail to solve this problem, the result against Arsenal may become more frequent.