Tottenham Hotspur have made significant changes to their squad in the summer.
Many players made way for new signings including Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone, and they were replaced by high quality purchases brought in by the trio of Daniel Levy, Franco Baldini and Andre Villas Boas.
Among the new arrivals, Roberto Soldado and Paulinho were expected to slot in straight into Spurs line-up due to their superior pedigree and performances in the past. But not many would have predicted the same for French defensive-midfielder Etienne Capoue.
Many considered him as a back-up to Brazilian beast Sandro, who was a stellar performer before getting injured last season.
Sandro's injury opened the floodgates for Spurs last season as neither Parker nor Huddlestone looked comfortable in his shoes. Tottenham lost their dynamic flow in midfield as the duo failed to replicate the domination of Sandro and Moussa Dembele pairing in the middle.
Their defence became vulnerable to opposition attacks as the shield formed in midfield wasn't solid enough to protect the back four. Parker was often accused of slowing down the tempo and pace of the game due to his unnecessary twists and turns in final third, while Huddlestone lacked the mobility to influence the attacks which would have complimented his passing range.
This summer Parker was shipped to Fulham, while Huddlestone moved to Hull along with Jake Livermore.
New signing Paulinho was expected to improve the dynamics of Tottenham's midfield and has slotted in with ease as expected. Not many would have predicted a similar outcome in the case of Capoue though, who was expected to play as the back up to Sandro once he returns to full fitness.
Capoue however, contrary to expectations, has sured up the defence tremendously in the three outings he has made so far. He made a number of crucial interceptions and tackles in pivotal moments to give more solidity to Spurs' defence.
Capoue also played a good role in initiating attacks and his presence brings flexibility and more athleticism to Spurs midfield. He kept Swansea danger-man Michu in his pocket to pave way for a Spurs win this weekend.
The kind of performances Capoue has put up so far means Sandro will find it difficult to displace the Frenchman from the starting eleven.
Capoue's presence in midfield has brought greater balance for AVB's side, who seems to switch between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations easily.
What do you think, can Capoue keep Sandro at bay or will they prosper in each others presence?
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