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What Christian Eriksen brings to Spurs

Christian Eriksen became the seventh and final arrival at Spurs this summer, as Daniel Levy brought our window to a close with another exciting signing.

The Dane is not a typical trequartista that sits pulling the strings in the hole behind a central striker. He is more of a floating attacking midfielder, who can burst forward at great speed and then pick a pass or shoot with either foot.

After looking at what Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli bring to Spurs, just what will Christian Eriksen add and how will he fit in?

Christian Eriksen positioning and movement

Christian Eriksen is well versed in playing in a 4-3-3 during his time at Ajax, who are famous for schooling their players in the system.

The Dane often lines up to the left of a 1-2 inverted triangle in midfield.

This allows him to start wide, drift inside, then work between the lines and drive through the opposition defence from a position behind the forwards.

Against Steaua in the Europa League last season highlighted a typical game from the Dane. Eriksen combines well with his full back and wide forward to receive the ball out on the left in the defensive and midfield zones. Further up the field, in the attacking third, he drifts in to the centre where he can float between the lines.

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Christian Eriksen passes received, Ajax 2 Steaua 0.

His movement, especially with the full back and the wide forward, allow him to create overloads and advance the ball up the pitch through dribbling and passing. He does that extremely well in the defnsive and midfield zones.

We can see that in the middle third here, where he lays the ball of to his full back, Daley Blind, who draws two defenders in.

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Coupled with the movement of the wide forward to bring a third defender short, Blind then plays the ball back up the line to Christian Eriksen who now has it in space.

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A quick burst pf pace and movement sets him free.

Once the ball has been advanced in this way, Eriksen can then drift in to more central locations in the final third. Here he moves between the lines across the whole pitch, as he operates as more of a floating playmaker.

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From this central area, he can run with it, shoot from range, or pick out a pass to his central striker moving in-behind the defence. The fact that he is two-footed really helps him here.

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Roberto Soldado has been lacking service so far and these kinds of passes would see him thrive as he likes to get behind the opposition. The Spanish striker runs the channels well, but also profits from the ball being cut back to him in the penalty area for a first time shot.

Eriksen’s movement and forward bursts allow him to get up the field. He is an effective dribbler with the ball at his feet, which means he can also get in to positions to cut it back once he has accelerated through the defence.

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As looked at in “How Roberto Soldado will change Spurs,” running the channels and looking for squared and cut back balls in the area are how our new number nine likes to score.

Christian Eriksen the creator

As looked at above, the movement and positioning of Christian Eriksen mean that he is able to create goals in a number of ways.

Firstly, he is an excellent corner and set piece taker, able to hit his targets in dangerous zones with regularity.

Secondly, he can create from his ability to burst through defences with his pace and dribbling ability. This allows him to square the ball or cut it back for a team mate to fire home.

Thirdly, he is a threat to play diagonal passes to a runner in-behind, as we can see from his performance against Steaua in the Europa League. Eriksen tried to hit his central striker, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, with diagonal passes in to or towards the box. However, he assisted on Ajax’s opener by putting a free kick on to the head of Toby Alderweireld, highlighted by the yellow line.

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Christian Eriksen passes played, Ajax vs Steaua Bucharest.

Christian Eriksen already has three assists in the three Eredivise games he’s played for Ajax this season. Two of these have from corners and one from a pass through the defence to a cutting Siem de Jong.

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Christian Eriksen picks out Siem de Jong.

With the additional height and aerial power we’ve added, Christian Eriksen should benefit us at set pieces, as well as passes through the defence to runners on the other side.

Christian Eriksen the goalscorer

Christian Eriksen is not just a creator; he also scores goals that come in many different forms.

First up, he is an excellent free-kick taker. Eriksen not only has the ability to put the ball in to dangerous areas to create goals, he can also score directly from set pieces.

Secondly, he has an excellent shot from distance. This not only helps him convert free kicks, but also in aids him in open play, where he is a threat to fire one in from outside the box with either foot.

Thirdly, with his ability to burst through defences from his starting position in midfield, he is also a threat to run through on goal and round the keeper. Something he did quite often in the Eredivise last season and we should see this term.

Finally, he is a fan of chipping or lobbing the keeper, especially from outside the box to catch him unawares. Eriksen has an uncanny knack of noticing when the keeper is off his line and is able to put one over his head.

His main method of scoring though combines his two main strengths. His natural bursts of pace and also his ability to dribble and play neat flicks and layoffs.

These factors see him combine to go through opposition defences, as he surges forward with the ball from midfield, laying it off to a team mate.

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Then bursting through the defence to receive a pass back to get in-behind the opposition.

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Christian Eriksen is not a normal number ten, but his ability to score means that Ajax also use him as a false nine as well.

How will he fit in?

“He is a wonderful creative player, a good solution for our No 10 position” Andre Villas-Boas said about Christian Eriksen when he signed.

It will be interesting whether AVB deploys him from a central starting position behind the striker or whether he plays in from the left as he did at Ajax.

The Dutch side play a 4-3-3 formation, but with an inverted 1-2 midfield that forms a diamond with the central striker. The central striker can play deeper as a false nine (making the formation look a lot more like the Cruyff diamond used at Barcelona), or if he is a penalty box predator, then a lot higher up. This is not a traditional diamond, which sees two strikers ahead of a midfield four, but encourages the wide forwards to play with great width.

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The deepest lying midfielder can drop in to make the formation 3-4-3 as the full backs bomb forward. Eriksen’s floating role from the left of the diamond sees him link with the full back and wide forward on that side, then burst through the inside left channel or drift in behind the central striker.

Whether Andre Villas-Boas plays Christian Eriksen in this kind of system to use his experience or whether he gives him a pure ‘role in the hole’ will be the first thing to watch for.

What Christian Eriksen brings to Spurs

Christian Eriksen may just surprise a few people with his style of play.

He can play exceptional slide-rule passes, but his game is not one of a pure trequartista trying to unlock defences. Instead his creativity comes more from his energy, direct dribbling and give-and-go passes.

Success in the Eredivise is not necessarily a guarantee that he’ll be a hit here, but he has all the tools in his locker to be an outstanding player for Spurs.



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19 Responses to What Christian Eriksen brings to Spurs

  1. BB 4th September 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Too bad he’ll have that donkey soldado in front of him.

    • DECKY1959 4th September 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      WTF do you know?

    • J Sidewinder 4th September 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Piss of ugly gooner.

  2. Billy 4th September 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    @BB

    You’re stupid, and obviously not a Spurs fan. Soldado played well just that he has no service.

    Onto Eriksen, he’s an excellent player, one play maker we’ve been missing since Modric.

    What I like about him is his off-the-ball movements and this creates space and opportunities for others.

    Also a dead ball specialist with an eye for goal, and uses both feet equally. More importantly, he creates tonnes of chances, and know when to shoot and when is the obvious time to just slide the ball to a team mate to score.

    Unlike Defoe, he just pops at the goal when it’s 2V1 situation.

  3. Morten 4th September 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Excellent work on this blog Mark. Love these player analysis posts.

    I am a danish Chris Eriksen fan so I am going to watch a lot of Spurs matches from now on :) He will probably need some time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the PL which is a big step up from Holland but he has done very well when playing against english teams both for Ajax and with the Danish NT so hopefully he will fit right in.

    Who do you see as his main competition for that number 10 spot in the team?

    • Pete 4th September 2013 at 6:04 pm #

      Holtby could be his main rival, and then Sigurdsson. Eriksen will be 1st choice though, for sure.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th September 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      Thanks Morten, good to have you onboard. Hopefully after watching some games you’ll become a fully signed up Spurs fan :)

      I think his main competition will be Gylfi Sigurdsson and possibly Lewis Holtby. AVB will switch his midfield around due to the number of players we have, but in time I see his best starting three as Capoue, Paulinho and Eriksen. Etienne will be at the base, whilst i can see Christian getting another floating role (possibly from the left if we play a diamond) whilst Paulinho plays box-to-box. I can see Eriksen hitting a charging Paulinho with passes akin to the square one he played to Siem De Jong in the Roda game above…

      • rs691919 4th September 2013 at 6:36 pm #

        Was looking out for your analysis on Eriksen, thanks! Until Capoue comes back, do you think we’d be best suited in a 4-2-3-1 with Sandro and Paulinho playing the double pivot? Also, it seems that Eriksen’s game is predicated on crisp movement and passing — which we decidedly did not see in the NLD. Hopefully that changes. I am a little down on Townsend after watching the game again and seeing him cut in and shoot every time. But I can envisage a lot more creativity and passing once Lamela settles in on the right.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th September 2013 at 7:00 pm #

          I think AVB really wants to put his stamp on the team this season and we’ll continue to see 4-3-3. Sandro will come in for Capoue or maybe Dembele will drop deeper if Sandro is unable to play 2 games back to back due to just returning from injury. Andros needs to work on his decision making, but he’s made massive strides as a player in the last year. He’s still very young, he’ll learn.

      • Morten 4th September 2013 at 7:12 pm #

        Thanks. Exciting times ahead.

        AVB will have his work cut out for him with so many new players. It will probably take some time for them all to gel but the future looks bright for Spurs even without Bale.

        COYS

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th September 2013 at 7:39 pm #

          It’s a shame they’ll be away with their international teams, otherwise would’ve had at least a week of training together!

      • shubes 6th September 2013 at 9:17 pm #

        I can see Siggy going out on loan in Jan.

  4. Ryan 4th September 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Super analysis but we all now need to see this materialise as this is the missing piece of the jigsaw!

  5. Declan 4th September 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Erickson is what was needed on sunday.holtby should have been used and not defoe.Townsend need to start putting crosses into the box for soldado,he needs to realise that he is not bale.Lamela will take that position so it will be sorted The good times are coming back.COYS

  6. BigH 4th September 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Usual excellent stuff mate! We do need to be patient and I know how frustrating that will be. There are a number of possibilities, but we need to keep solid. Personally I would play Erickson ahead of Dembele, with Sandro and Paulinho. Fact is we will go through some peaks and troughs as the new players adjust. Have to say I have really been impressed by Hotlby, love his attitude and certainly deserves a run out

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th September 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      I’m sure Hotlby will get a chance at some point, the current options in midfield are endless!

  7. Maceo 4th September 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    have been feeling down since the NLD and what little creativity we had. But reading this gave me hope. Erickson seems like just the player we need. hopefully it all works out. I know it will.

  8. Danny 5th September 2013 at 4:09 am #

    Another great post Mark I love reading your analysis it’s informative, logical, well-supported, and realistic. Eriksen will be a great player for Spurs, and I hope he prospers as you predict, we could really use it. I think he’ll do well in the middle of that 4-3-3 and link the ball well to all sides of the pitch. Eriksen will definitely be a key to the Spurs’ offense this year. Keep doing what you’ve been doing, it’s always a pleasure to read. COYS

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th September 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Thanks Danny, appreciate the support.