Why Capoue’s injury may improve Tottenham as a team

Christian Eriksen playing for Denmark at Euro 2012

The Frenchman suffered what looks like a very serious injury in the north London derby, but his sidelining may well add to Spurs’ attacking prowess.

Etienne Capoue has arguably looked like Tottenham’s brightest new player in a team being thrown together post-Gareth Bale. However, in a real blow for Andre Villas-Boas’ men, the France international midfielder was stretchered off the Emirates Stadium pitch yesterday with what looked like a serious ankle/leg injury.

While the prognosis is still to be confirmed and Capoue’s loss will be a blow to the solidarity of the Spurs midfield, his absence will allow Villas-Boas to add an extra creative player in the starting XI.

Although Tottenham’s team is yet to gel due to the sheer number of new faces, the fact that the side have not scored from open play in their first three games should be a concern. There have been some chances created but not as many as the White Hart Lane faithful have become accustomed to in recent campaigns.

One of the key reasons for this is the lack of an out-and-out playmaker to support Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard has been isolated in his opening games in England, with very few opportunities for the ex-Valencia man to showcase his immaculate finishing ability. There has been a noticeable space between the Spurs midfield and Soldado, with Paulinho and Mousa Dembele not getting forward enough to support the Spaniard.

Enter Christian Eriksen. The Dane is an immensely talented attacking midfielder that can fill the afore-mentioned gap and add the flair needed to create more chances. By leaving Paulinho and Dembele in the centre of the park, like Spurs did against Crystal Palace in the opening fixture, Eriksen can be given a licence to play in the number ten role, which will allow the Tottenham attacking players a fulcrum for their play in the last third to stem around.

With Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend predominantly sticking to their respective flanks, Tottenham have had a lack of creativity centrally so far this term. Eriksen will take some of the pressure of holding the ball up away from Soldado as the pair can work together rather than the Spaniard being isolated. The Scandinavian’s presence will also allow Soldado to look for balls in behind opposition defences, with Eriksen the perfect player to thread pinpoint passes to facilitate chances.

Bale offered a more direct alternative in the same position last term and a real goal threat, but Eriksen’s qualities, despite being different, will be no-less effective. The new man has superior footballing technique, creative abilities and is a team player.

Capoue will be missed as his physical attributes have been very impressive in his short time in England so far, but his injury should prompt Villas-Boas to make an offensive tweak to his side. There is a temptation to replace like with like and bring Sandro back in, but in most games two central midfielders instead of three, allowing Eriksen the luxury of freedom, will be a winning formula. With Paulinho and Dembele still in the centre of the park, a 4-2-3-1 formation with Eriksen in the hole has the potential to be devastating.

image: © Кирилл Крыжановский

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