The first thing I noticed about Mousa Dembélé was his technique, every shot, touch and pass had something I haven’t seen in a player. Nothing was quaint or delicate, the ball was always moved deliberately and powerfully. He’s a great player to watch. Martin Jol has gone even further:
[quote]Dembélé is probably the best player on the ball I’ve ever seen.
– Martin Jol (2012)[/quote]
He has definitely become an important player for Tottenham this season, playing in 21 of a possible 31 appearances (due to playing 2 games at the beginning of the season for Fulham).
Now it’s one thing a player impressing you visually, but it’s another impressing in statistics. Here’s a presentation of his stats from his first season in the Premier League through to this season. This way, as well as seeing how good he has been this season, we can see how consistent he has been, and whether he has improved or not.
[box_light]The 12/13 season stats include both his appearances for Fulham and Tottenham. For comparison reasons, percentages and minutes per… stats will be used to be able to compare stats fairly as a different amount of time is played in each season.[/box_light]
Dembélé Defensive Stats
Dembélé has improved in his tackling and interceptions, but hasn’t done too well in the other two categories. We can see the improvement of his ‘Aerial Win %’ compared to his first season, which we can put down to settling into the physicality of the Premier League. His interceptions have improved massively, I feel interceptions are mainly down to mental attributes (anticipation, positioning) so could it be said that he has matured as a player? Due to his improved reading of the game.
His ‘Tackle Win %’ is also very high for an attacking player. The average for the whole Spurs team this season is 75%. His score is also better than Dawson, Vertonghen, Caulker, Gallas, Walker, Naughton and Assou-Ekotto. If you think that could be a coincidence in his position, think again, his score is also greatly better than Sandro, Huddlestone, Dempsey, Parker and Sigurðsson.
Not a lot of stats here, but both are important as a midfielder. He isn’t losing the ball as much, but his fouls have dropped back towards where they were in his first season. Bit of a mixed bag, but I feel the more important outcome is that Dembélé is retaining the ball better, which will be confirmed or disproved with his passing and dribbling stats later.
Dembélé Passing Stats
This is where we start to see the biggest difference. It is clear that Dembélé is an excellent passer of the ball, and he has really improved from his first season. He has also passed better than his teams average in all three seasons. Linking this back to the previous category regarding his mistakes, through his passing he has improved his ball retention abilities.
Excluding Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend (both playing 42 minutes combined this season), Dembélé has the best pass accuracy of the whole Spurs team. There isn’t much analysis that can be done, the facts are there, Dembélé is consistently a great passer, and is continuing to get better.
[box_dark]Dembélé has the highest final third pass success in the entire league (for players who have played over 5 games).[/box_dark]
Just to put into perspective how good he actually is, in Pep Guardiola’s last season in charge of Barça (11/12), Xavi achieved a pass accuracy of 92% in La Liga.
Dembélé Creative Stats
Another area that Dembélé has improved massively. Creating more chances and clear cut chances more often, his assists are doing a lot better than last year, but not as good as his first season. His improvement in creating chances this season could be down to the team around him, the prolific Gareth Bale is able to get on the end of one of his chances and undoubtedly tuck it away. Either way, he is playing in an ever-improving league, and the standard hasn’t dropped at all, so his improvement is still very much valid.
His dribble accuracy has improved quite a lot as well, which again can be linked back to the ‘Dembélé Mistakes’ category, as well as his passing contributing to his improved ball retention, so has his dribbling.
The only improvement here is how often he’s getting a shot on target, he isn’t converting his chances well, and has only scored one goal in the 2264 minutes he’s played.
Could it be said that due to moving to Spurs he has become more of a provider of goals? When he was at Fulham he was one of the best, if not the best, player they had. Whereas his move to Spurs has seen him take a step down in hierarchy. His demand for goals is less due to Spurs having the likes of Bale to finish chances off, so Dembélé has become more of a typical number 10 in that he is giving more opportunities to his teammates. If that is the case then there is nothing to worry about, but the fact that he is still getting a lot of good shots away shows that he is trying more than ever to score, so there may be more of an underlying problem there.
Football fans are definitely becoming more aware of how good Dembélé is, but I think he is still relatively underrated for his performances for Spurs this season. How Tottenham can be named a one man team when they have this guy around is beyond me! What do you think? Let me know in the poll.
With passing and tackling so good, he is definitely an all round midfielder; and at 25 years of age, he still has a lot more to come.
[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]