Was Sherwood right to pick Bentaleb ahead of Capoue?

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Tottenham opted for the French youngster ahead of his more experienced countryman against Arsenal on Saturday.

Tottenham crashed out of the FA Cup on Saturday at the hands of fierce North London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Tim Sherwood was missing a host of players across the park, with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Andros Townsend and Jermain Defoe unavailable.

However, it was in the centre of midfield that the visitors’ injuries were most felt, with no Sandro, Paulinho or Lewis Holtby to call upon.

As such, Sherwood opted to play youngster Nabil Bentaleb alongside Mousa Dembele, with Etienne Capoue on the bench.

But was the Spurs boss right to omit the France international in place of his younger counterpart?

For the 19-year-old to make a start in such an important fixture against a rival was a risk taken by Sherwood, but on all counts Bentaleb put in a solid performance.

He looked relatively comfortable on the ball, tried his best and certainly looks like a player that can stake a claim for regular inclusion in the Tottenham first team.

However, his lack of experience did shine through on occasion, with the youth graduate guilty of giving away too many free-kicks and putting his side under pressure as a result.

With Tottenham playing a high defensive line to try to nullify the pace of Theo Walcott, a pressing midfield unit was needed to ensure that Arsenal’s playmakers did not have time on the ball to play passes behind the Spurs back four.

However, it was the more attack minded Dembele that was closing the Arsenal ball players, and the Belgian looked isolated and fighting a battle by himself in the boiler room at times.

Capoue has been unlucky with injuries since moving to White Hart Lane, but anytime he has been used in central midfield he has impressed. His work-rate, ability to close opponents, physicality and fitness have been key attributes.

Despite Bentaleb putting in a sound performance, the more experienced and tougher Capoue would potentially have been a more fitting option to use in the hostile environment Spurs faced on Saturday.

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