Christian Eriksen is the best number ten we have, so is he best used starting from the right?
A feature of our pre-season has been the interchangeable and fluid nature of our three attacking midfielders.
Starting behind the central striker, these positions have often seen Erik Lamela in the centre and Christian Eriksen on the right. The players do switch, but in the build-up phase from the back, the Dane is usually out on the flank, with the Argentinean looking to run through the middle.
Eriksen had just one goal in pre-season, a wicked free-kick against Celtic. Against the Hammers, his best strikes at goal were also from dead balls when the vanishing spray came out.
So, is he being marginalised in this new role roving from the right?
Christian Eriksen Against West Ham
Christian Eriksen started the match against West Ham in the right-sided position of the three advanced midfielders.
He was initially here as the play was built from the back, exchanging passes with Kyle Naughton.
As the play moved further forward, he drifted inside at the edge of the final third, as he moved across the field. Interestingly enough, he only received one pass in the final third, which was out on the right flank. This lead to a miss-hit crossing attempt over the bar.
We can see this cross on his passes played and also how he was looking to make diagonal through balls towards the penalty area.
None of them found their targets, but these attempts came from when he took up more central positions.
Compare this to the second half. Mauricio Pochettino switched Christian Eriksen with Erik Lamela, so the Dane was now starting in the middle.
Rather than his passing map having a curve from the right in towards the centre at the final third, Eriksen now receives a lot more passes purely in the middle.
He also takes the ball much higher up, further in to the final third. The two deepest passes – the shot assist at the corner of the box and the short ball towards the area – occurred when the game was 10v11.
His passing also looked a lot more purposeful. Eriksen was still trying to play through balls, but these were more numerous, a lot straighter and more aggressive in to the box.
He twice found Andros Townsend who got good shots away. He was also involved in the passage of play that lead to James Collins’ second yellow card, sliding the ball in to Emmanuel Adebayor on the run. What’s more, he started the move that lead to the winning goal as he found Nabil Bentaleb.
Christian Eriksen saw less of the ball after the interval, but actually seemed more involved, making bigger contributions.
Christian Eriksen in the centre or on the right?
Christian Eriksen seemed poised to take over the Adam Lallana role in Mauricio Pochettino’s system. Our new coach used the Englishman predominantly in the middle when in a 4-2-3-1, but also from the right when he went 4-3-3. So, he is not afraid to switch his playmaker around the formation.
Christian Eriksen is going to have to learn to play from both positions if he is to flourish under the new coach.
However, after a rather subdued pre-season and game of two halves against the Hammers, should Christian Eriksen now be starting in the centre or continuing on the right?