Mousa Dembele more valuable to Spurs than Gareth Bale
The likes of Gareth Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Gaston Ramirez and Christian Benteke may grab the rave reviews, but here we highlight five players whose value to their side continues to go unsung.
Aston Villa – Yacouba Sylla
Going from France’s Ligue 2 to the heat of a Premier League relegation battle has been a hell of a transition to make for the 22-year-old, but he’s adapted at lightning pace. A defensively minded midfield harrier with a fearsome tackle in his locker, he does the dirty work whilst allowing full-backs Joe Bennet and Matthew Lowton to surge forward in support of attacks.
Villa have won six and drawn two of the 10 games in which he’s featured since making the switch from Clermont Foot in the January window.
Fulham – Steve Sidwell
Unlucky enough to have come of age at Arsenal in a golden era for the club, Fulham’s ginger dynamo shone for Reading but has found his top flight Shangri-la at Craven Cottage, where the nectar of first team football has helped him rediscover his true form.
Having arrived in January 2011 he’s evolved into a vital cog in Martin Jol’s side – Fulham have won a miserable one of 14 games without Sidwell in the XI this season, losing eight times.
Southampton – Jack Cork
Present as a starter for 42 of the 53 games of the Saints’ promotion campaign, no-one fingered the ex-Chelsea youth’s absence through injury as a potential cause of his side’s woefully discombobulated start to the Premier League campaign.
Southampton managed just one win and as many draws in the 10 games Cork missed, but have garnered 36 points since, with the midfielder featuring in every single game.
Tottenham – Mousa Dembele
With the deafening fanfare surrounding Gareth Bale’s almost-always stellar campaign Moussa Dembele has been overlooked as one of the signings of the season. On the percentages Spurs have both won more and lost less of the games Dembele has started than those started by the aforementioned boy wonder this season.
In an era of specialist attacking or defensive midfielders the Belgian is a muscular, yet artful jack-of all-trades.
Wigan – Antolin Alcaraz
Last term Wigan lost 60 per cent of the games in which their Paraguayan centre-half failed to start and his worth to the cause has been underlined again in 2012/13. The Latics have won 64 per cent of the games in which he started and just 29 per cent of those in which he didn’t make the 11.
Despite the Wigan tradition of undermining their pretty attacking football with defensive over-generosity they’ve not conceded more than twice when he’s started all season – under 2.5 Arsenal goals in the Latics vital visit to the Emirates can be punted at 3/4.