Edit: Attacking midfield poll will be based on how this poll stands at 6 pm UK, 1 pm ET. It will effectively close at that time, though I'll leave voting open.
Ahead of our must-win clash against Chelsea, Spurs face a bit of a midfield conundrum. Dembele's been battling through injury for a while now, and after coming off in the first half against Southampton, it's entirely possible that he won't be fit in time to feature on Wednesday. In his absence, there's a lot of options AVB can deploy instead. Which one do you want to see?
Two Man Midfield
A two-man midfield of Scott Parker and Tom Carroll will give us a very similar midfield to what we saw last year. A destroyer alongside a passer who circulates possession quickly. The merits of including Tom Carroll in the team has already been discussed at length. But there's still a few question marks over starting this pairing. Carroll's inexperience and potential defensive frailty are both concerns for some when it comes to handing him his first start at Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, the defensive midfield destroyer known as Scott Parker has been replaced by a roaming box-to-box guy with eerily similar hair. If he wanders too much, Spurs may be exposed in midfield. But it's also possible that deploying him in the same style midfield he excelled in last year could be just the thing to get the best out of him.
Pairing Parker and Huddlestone would yield a similar result, albeit with some crucial differences. Huddlestone trades Carroll's precise, quick passing for audacious long balls. Meanwhile, his deep-lying distributor/defensive shield may compensate better for Parker's roaming tendencies. But we've already seen Oscar mark much more mobile playmakers like Pirlo and Arteta out of the game before, and if Parker isn't ready to make himself available for a quick outlet pass, we could find ourselves unable to get any offensive rhythm going.
This is the partnership AVB opted for at the weekend once Dembele limped off the pitch, and it's very likely he chooses it again on Wednesday. We saw for 50 minutes how this worked out, with Holtby doing his usual energetic pressing while Hudd bombs the long ball forward. But heavy pressing from Chelsea could see equally similar negatives, with the attacking midfielders lost and isolated higher up the pitch. Holtby's fitness is also questionable, and his 30 minute cameos have been significantly stronger than his longer outings.
Other permutations are also possible, with Holtby pairing Carroll or Parker, Carroll coming in alongside Huddlestone, or even Jake Livermore getting a run out.
Three Man Midfield
In a three man midfield, two players can help compensate for the lumbering Huddlestone's deficiencies while still allowing his quarterbacking skills to flourish. Carroll's quick passing and Parker's energetic running could prove an excellent compliment to the Hudd's skillset. The downside is that means fewer players in the attacking third to get on the end of his long balls, and neither Parker or Carroll are in their element in more advanced positions.
Here we have a very similar midfield to the one Spurs ended with against Manchester City, with Parker filling Dembele's role as the "runner". Holtby can perhaps link the midfield to attack better, and though we haven't seen much of it in a Spurs shirt, could be an excellent creative force around the opposition box. The biggest concern is that none of these players are particularly disciplined enough to stay near Huddlestone and relieve the pressure on him when he gets closed down.
This formation hinges on Parker playing more of an anchor role. Holtby and Carroll, for all their defensive acumen, are both a little lightweight, and Parker's ability to break up attacks is crucial to keeping our back line from being overrun from midfield. If Parker can manage the discipline to sit deeper, distribute to his midfield partners, and allow the passers alongside him to dictate play, this could be just the type of ball-circulating midfield Spurs need.
Here we see Hudd sit deep, Carroll playing close to him as an outlet. It operates much the same as their two man-midfield if Holtby were deployed in the hole, except here Holtby would be instructed to start in deeper positions and aid the midfield. But again, without a guy like Parker putting in the tackles, Huddlestone could prove dangerously exposed on the counter.
Those are just some of the many options we could see on Wednesday, and if Dembele makes a speedy recovery, it gives us even more food for thought. Which choice do you prefer?