In the hectic transfer window of two seasons ago when Tottenham tried to paper over the loss of Gareth Bale with ample young and inexperienced players, only a few showed promise, Christian Eriksen was one of those few. His creativity and ability to trouble keepers from set-pieces made him an integral part of that Tottenham side that didn’t quite make the scratch but it is telling he is still part of the Spurs side that is. The attacking prowess of Dele Alli and Harry Kane has allowed him to make important contributions in a much quieter fashion.
He normally plays on the left of the trident behind Kane but with the fullbacks pushing forward and an attack based on fluid movement and seamless interchange, he has brought the creativity that has fueled his teammates. The Dane strings things together with the deeper lying midfielders while sometimes forcing the issue with some long-range shots that sting the palms of most Premier League goalkeepers. Kane’s game is based on energy and continuous movement while also being in the right position when need be, Alli likes to drive past Kane and stretch defences which gives Eriksen freedom and space to operate.
His game is much like him, humble and unassuming as the spotlight in a brilliant Tottenham season have gone to the likes of Kane and Alli. The latter plays more as a false ten while Eriksen can receive the ball in the pockets and begin to work the channels while he is well supported with his team pushing so high. He is one of three former Ajax players and this is the type of football that the Dane was groomed in as at Ajax he also played on the left flank as well as more centrally.
Tottenham are well stocked in the attacking positions but it is important to understand that few players in that squad possess his innate sense of how to utilise the pockets and his boundless creativity. It is also ironic or depressing, however one looks at it, that one of Arsenal’s most talented players ever had a hand in nurturing a talent that would be a part of a Tottenham side challenging for the league title.
“I started with the under-17s at Ajax and he was the assistant coach. Once or twice a week we had individual one-to-one training sessions. You just watched Bergkamp. When you see him in training, he had skills that a guy just shouldn’t be allowed to have,” said Eriksen in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Eriksen has accumulated 8 goals and 11 assists in all competitions while taking 3 shots and making 3 key passes per game. Eriksen makes 51 passes at an 81% succession rate while he has created 101 chances this season. He has been a constant but underrated performer in the entertaining Tottenham side this season and he will be an integral part of their title run in. Very few attacking midfielders are as well-rounded and efficient as Eriksen while Pochettino has added an element of grit to his game as he can only continue to grow under the Argentine tactician.
Highly rated as a youngster at Ajax’ illustrious De Toekomst academy and now an integral part of a Spurs side that will be competing for a Premier League title and a side that will be competing in the Champions League next season. Only World Cup winner Mesut Ozil has edged him in terms of creativity while his ability to score goals has kept him in the side for the last few seasons. No matter how Tottenham’s season ends, the Dane deserves a huge amount of credit for the quality he has produced this season.