Mousa Dembele, Chelsea and understated excellence

Tottenham vs. Chelsea. Second only to the visit of Arsenal as the most anticipated match of the season, and, more often than not, a high-scoring affair. With the 5-3 rout of New Year's Day still fresh in the memory of Spurs and Chelsea fans alike, Sunday's rather drab 0-0 draw was somewhat of a disappoint.

Perhaps due to the nature of the game and the subsequent result, no particular player performance was lauded in the manner that the results of recent weeks have evoked.

In the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates prior to the international break, Dele Alli was rightfully awarded man of the match for his accomplished display in which he sent the experienced Santi Cazorla into a daze, leading to the Spaniard's half-time substitution.

The 19-year-old drew wider recognition for his performance and subsequent goal for England in the 2-0 win over France at Wembley a week later, receiving national acclaim.

In last weekend's 4-1 win over West Ham, Mousa Dembele was rightfully voted the fans' man of the match. The Belgian delivered a near faultless display and, alongside Eric Dier in front of the back four, aided the transition from defence to attack with aplomb.

The Belgian's sparkling form shows no signs of abating, and his performance against Chelsea is up there with his best since his regaining his place in the starting XI. Dembele started the game in the no.10 role, but his defensive effort was commendable throughout.

The former Fulham man made more interceptions than any player on either side (five), more tackles than anybody on his team (four), and completed more successful take-ons than any player on the pitch (four).

A previous criticism of Dembele's game from pundits and fans alike was his apparent refusal to pass the ball forwards, more often than not opting to abide stringently to the rules of rugby and only look for teammates behind him.

This area is one of many the Belgian has demonstrated vast improvement in recent weeks, and with 11 of his 55 passes in Sunday's game going to Christian Eriksen, his highest pass combination, the Jermaine Jenas impression that he had previously been ardently committed too may well have died a timely death.

With kick-off against Chelsea coming just over 64 hours after the final whistle blew in Tottenham's win over Qarabag in Baku, Azerbaijan, Mauricio Pochettino's men were understandably a little off the boil in regards to their usual relentless pressing approach.

The Lilywhites covered almost six kilometres less in Sunday's game than they did in the previous week against West Ham and four kilometres less than they managed in the draw with Arsenal earlier this month.

With this in mind, a draw with the current Premier League champions is nothing for Spurs fans to feel too disheartened with. Had Tottenham caught the Blues in the midst of their September/October slump, the result may well have been very different. Jose Mourinho's side, however, travelled to White Hart Lane on the back of consecutive victories for only the second time this season.

Summer addition Toby Alderweireld was handed the man of the match award in the draw with the Blues, and along with compatriots Dembele and Jan Vertonghen, remains one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Reports in the summer suggested Dembele could have been part of the mass squad cull that saw the likes of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Benjamin Stambouli all depart, and with just 18 months left on his current deal at White Hart Lane, tying the Belgian down to a longer deal has become an unexpected priority for Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham. 

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