Etienne Capoue - 'The Interceptor'

Etienne Capoue - 'The Interceptor'

Capoue wasn’t given Man of the Match for his performance against Queen’s Park Rangers, but he was the silent worker. The Frenchman’s efforts were completed with in a quiet but effective manner and as is also the case with referees, when holding midfielders are on top of their game, it is difficult to even see their work. Snuffing out danger before it materialises is a valuable asset for any side.

Étienne Capoue; nicknamed ‘The Octopus’ for his leggy demeanour, has impressed many Tottenham fans for his performances in preseason and in the normal season. Capoue plays the silent hero better than any defensive midfielder we have had at the club. Most fans agree he has caged the ‘The Beast'(Sandro). Spurs’ French midfielder offers something that Sandro cannot; high quality passing! Last season, Sandro’s pass completion in his first two games was 82.4% compared to Capoue’s 88.1% (Sports Tonight Live). But saying Capoue is the better passer is limiting the praise he truly deserves, the French international is the most complete defensive midfielder at the club for years, maybe ever. What Scott parker lacked in mobility and technical ability, Capoue has in spades and is much stronger in tackles compared to the current Fulham midfielder. He also applies more finesse in his work you will rarely see Capoue slide tackle, purely because he is such a good reader of the game, interceptor and passer.

Capoue is favoured by Poch due to his ability to win the ball and distribute it well.

(Spurs Bravo, on Sports Tonight Live)

Capoue 2014 Stats

  • 108 passes completed, compared to QPR as a team 273 (@spursstatman)
  • 170 passes completed this season, more than any other player in the Premier League(@Spursstatman)
  • Highest pass completion at Tottenham Hotspur with 89% next best is Bentaleb with 88%(Squawka)

However, should we really be surprised by Capoue’s upturn in form, and especially his ability to successfully find a team mate with the ball time after time? Not really, as when he plied his trade in the French league, he had the joint-highest average passes per game in Ligue 1 with an 81 per cent success rate (


If there is a criticism of Capoue, it would be his forward work for a player with his athleticism and strength but also his silky passing. He could do a great deal more in the opposition half, like Dembele who also has everything in his locker, but it seems they both like to play so safely rather than risking to obtain a reward. If the Frenchman could add this to his game, the status of ‘complete midfielder’ would be well within his grasp.

(Capoue heat map, Via

The graph above, shows where Capoue carries out most of his work. Capoue also showed how influential he was, in the 48-pass move goal for Chadli; The Frenchman was the leading passer in that move.

Below are the list of  passes that led to that Chadli goal.
Capoue – 14
Vertonghen – 10
Bentaleb – 6
Kaboul – 4
Lamela/Rose – 3
Chadli/Dier/Adebayor – 2
Lloris/Eriksen – 1.

What this shows is that all of Spurs’ play revolves around Capoue. He will start play and either pass to Eriksen and if he isn’t available he will look to pass to Bentaleb, or even use Jan Vertonghen’s run from defence and pass to him. Capoue is key to everything Tottenham do this season, just like Eriksen.

Do you rate Etienne Capoue just as highly, and feel that he is absolutely vital for Tottenham’s Premier League ambitions this season? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .


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