Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Been a Slow Start but I'll Get Back to the Top, Insists Dembele

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Been a Slow Start but I'll Get Back to the Top, Insists Dembele

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse

MOUSA DEMBELE is confident he will quickly regain the form he showed last season despite a hugely difficult opening to this campaign.

Dembele is a key man for Tottenham but has been unable to show his worth this term, with ankle and hip problems restricting him to only five starts.

Dembele had a similarly slow beginning to the 2016-17 campaign. He missed the first four League matches while serving a six-match ban for scratching the eye of Diego Costa against Chelsea, and a foot injury also slowed his progress.

But once he recovered, Dembele was one of Tottenham's most important players, forming an impressive partnership with Victor Wanyama in central midfield.

With Wanyama still absent with a knee injury, Dembele's return to full fitness cannot happen quickly enough.

Dembele looked relatively sharp when he came on as a substitute in the 3-2 defeat by West Ham in the Carabao Cup, his first appearance since September 19. The Belgium star was non-committal when asked whether he was ready to play 90 minutes, saying only: "I'm feeling good," but Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino will be desperate for him to play some part at Manchester United tomorrow.

When the big games come around, Dembele usually steps up.

Pochettino called him "a genius" after his side drew 1-1 at Arsenal last autumn, while Dembele also delivered powerful performances against Chelsea and United.

Despite the surprise result against West Ham, Dembele is impressed by Tottenham's squad.

He said: "During the past three years, we have been steadily getting better. We have a bigger squad with more competition for places and everyone is playing well, everyone can play.

"Even if we have four or five injuries, the other guys come in and perform, so we can rotate.

"That is why I think we are better than last year. The West Ham game was not good, but generally we don't give much away. The recent games have generally been very good. In terms of my own fitness, I am feeling much better.

"First it was my ankle and then it was my hip, so I have had a bit of bad luck but I feel good. …

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