Sherwood finally decided to start Etienne Capoue against Newcastle and the decision paid dividends as Spurs ran out 4-0 winners. Despite strongly worded statements against the need for holding midfielders by both the manager and assistant Les Ferdinand, Capoue was deployed to protect Tottenham’s defence in the game at St. James’ Park.
Ironically, rather than being a negative tactic, adding a defensive player finally set Spurs’ attack free and we put in our most impressive attacking performance of the season. With Capoue shielding the defence, Bentaleb, Paulinho and Dembele had the freedom to break forward, support Adebayor and create chances. This gave us the bridge between midfield and attack, and the movement up front that has been missing for much of the season.
Adebayor, Bentaleb and Paulinho will take the plaudits but Capoue provided the platform for their heroics. Lets take a look at his stats (taken from WhoScored.com):
Below is an average position map for Wednesday’s game, Capoue is circled. This demonstrates clearly his position just in front of our centre backs. It also shows how far forward our other midfielders were able to venture, and how close they got to Adebayor (number 10). In previous games he has looked isolated but not on this occasion.
Here are some numbers from the game:
|Sucessful tackles||Interceptions||Total touches||Total passes|
|1st||Capoue 4||Capoue 9||Capoue 83||Bentaleb 54|
|2nd||Bentaleb 3||Kaboul 3||Naughton 74||Capoue 53|
|3rd||Kaboul 3||Lennon 2||Bentaleb 67||Adebayor 48|
So the stats show that Capoue made the most tackles and, more importantly, the most interceptions by far of any Spurs player – three times the next best. He clearly played a key part in Spurs’ defensive performance. He sat back and covered, denying Newcastle space between the lines and intercepting play through the middle.
Interestingly, he also had the most touches and completed the second highest number of passes. This indicates his overall involvement in the game as the engine room of the team. He protected the back four and snuffed out Newcastle attacks, but he also won the ball back and initiated counters.
Sherwood has shown admirable flexibility to notice problems in earlier games and change tactics, even at the expense of his ideals. Different opponents call for different approaches but it will be interesting to see how the manager sets the team up in subsequent games and, when Sandro returns from injury, whether the Brazilian will replace Capoue in a similar role.
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