NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 107
Submitted by Norman Giller
Mousa Dembele - midfield artist
Mousa Sidi Yaya Dembélé, to give him his full rich name, has this season developed into one of the most important players in Mauricio Pochettino’s sophisticated squad. From being a useful substitute coming off the bench, he is now a player we all want to see in at the start. His crucial goal against Sunderland on Saturday underlined his importance to the team as a midfield artist who can produce a final flourish.
Now we understand what his manager at Fulham, ex-Lane favourite Martin Jol, meant when he described him as “one of the best players on the ball I have ever seen.”
He runs with the ball as if it’s tied to his left foot and his jinks, twists and turns are improvisations that put me – as a jazz lover – in mind of a soloist, who goes off on an unchartered path of his own but always managing to stay in harmony with the rest of the band.
There is a little of the joie de vivre of a young boy running free in the playground when Mousa is off and flying, and gives flashbacks of Gazza when he was decorating Tottenham performances in his fleeting visit to the Spurs firmament.
Obviously we Spurs watchers would like to see Dembélé score more often, but he is definitely a player you want on your side rather than against you. There is nothing conventional about him, and when he is in possession you can see the opposition being exposed to the perils of panic.
This all brings me to the point I want to make: I hope Mauricio starts with Mousa against Leicester in their continuing FA Cup showdown on Wednesday. I am convinced that had he played in the first match at the Lane and started in the League match Spurs would have chalked up two victories against the Foxes rather than a draw and an undeserved defeat.
Talking of Leicester, am I alone in wishing the intelligent Jan Vertonghen had bitten his tongue and kept shtum about his assessment of the tactics they are using?
His accusation that they are primitive with their long-ball style will have them playing out of their skins on Wednesday to prove that not only do they play a winning game but also an attractive one.
Regardless of their approach, nobody can doubt that Leicester have been the success story of this topsy-turvy season. I would put Spurs as fourth favourites for the Premier League title – behind the Woolwich Nomads, Manchester City and the much-maligned Foxes, a team with great character and team spirit.
And, on Wednesday, they will be going all out to shove Vert’s words down his throat.
They stand between Spurs and surely a passport through to the fifth round via a tie at Colchester (naughty Norman, taking on the FA Cup gods).
My seat is already in place behind the sofa for Wednesday’s replay. It is going to be a long 90 minutes, then perhaps extra-time and possibly penalties. That’s how well matched Tottenham and Leicester are. The artist known as Dembélé could make all the difference.
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE, Week 24
Week TWENTY-FOUR of our Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and I caught few of you out with last week’s teaser: “I scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 FA Cup quarter-final victory at Maine Road in the 90s. Who am I, and which of my Tottenham team-mates missed a penalty in that match?”
Nearly all of you came up with Nayim, and few could resist mention of his ‘from the halfway line’ goal against Gooner David Seaman. And, yes, it was the talented Teddy Sheringham who missed from the penalty spot, many believe to appease the rioting Man City fans during a manic match that included a pitch invasion.
This week’s teaser: “I have won 109 international caps and scored 24 Premier League goals for Tottenham, including a then record-equalling goal in five successive matches. Who am I and to which club did I return when leaving Spurs?”
You get two points for identifying the player, and a bonus point for naming the club to which he returned for a second spell.
Keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a huge, personally autographed photograph of Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2015-16 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
Email your answers, please, to SOQL24@normangillerbooks.com. Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Closing date for entries: midnight this Friday.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers last week is Sam Vaughan of Northampton. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Sam, who has been a Spurs supporter since the 1950s, when he lived in Edgware.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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