Tottenham welcomed Norwich City to White Hart Lane last Saturday afternoon, with Spurs fans hoping to see some of the new faces brought in during the last week of the transfer window, most notably, a player that can unlock a defence: Christian Eriksen.
So far this season Spurs, despite creating a host of chances, have found it hard to score from open play, due to a lack of support from midfield to help Roberto Soldado in the attacking third. That all changed on Saturday afternoon with the introduction of former Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen.
Andre Villas-Boas decided to revert to a 4231 formation, to incorporate Christian Eriksen into the side, playing Mousa Dembele and Paulinho as the holding midfielders, with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andros Townsend as the inverted wingers, the width came from full backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker.
Chris Hughton played 4411, the threats coming from wide and upfront with Nathan Redmond and Robert Snodgrass, with ex Bolton Wanderers striker John Elmander giving support to Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
Let’s start with the basics. Eriksen’s passing.
The Danish international played a total of (51) passes, with (46) of those reaching his target – a 90% pass completion.
As shown above, surprisingly only 1% more of his passes were played forwards (15/16, or a 25% forward pass rate) compared to his 16/18 completed backward passes, with a 24% backward pass rate. All of Eriksen’s 46 passes were played short.
Staggeringly, Eriksen played 41% of his passes to the right hand-side, combining with Walker (12) and Paulinho (8) more often with his passes.
Eriksen played 14% of his passes in the defensive third, while playing 86% in the attacking third, his final third entries (passes made in final third) was a total of 5.
A player in a team game who leads attacks or brings other players on the same side into a position from which they could score.
The former Ajax playmaker was integral to their Eredivisie title winning campaigns, and was one of the star men in their performances against Manchester City in the Champions League last season.
In a previous article I wrote, on the round-up of Tottenham’s signings, one stat of Eriksen comes to mind; according to transfermarkt.co.uk, Eriksen has created 51 goals for his Ajax team-mates since 2009, an outstanding amount of assists, the last two seasons he created (17) in the 2012/2013 season and (19) in the 2011/2012 season.
The missing part of the Spurs jigsaw, Andre Villas-Boas knew what was needed after the opening two games – a lack of creativity from midfield, and if he had been available for the Arsenal game, the Danish international could have made a massive impact.
Instead he made his debut for Spurs against Norwich, and it was quite a debut for someone with no Premier League experience.
I think Eriksen is a pure number 10. – Andre Villas-Boas
Eriksen came into a team, which before Norwich City’s visit, had struggled to score from open play. The new Spurs signing created (3) total chances, (2) of those created in open play, creating (1) clear cut chance. He also assisted one of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goals after combining with Roberto Soldado, to supply Sigurdsson with a lightly weighted pass, who scored the opener.
The new Spurs signing had (70) touches of the ball, lost possession 17 times and was dispossessed just once throughout his Spurs debut.
Spurs were so dominant throughout the game, with 69% of possession, completing 570/653 passes; whereas Norwich managed to play only 196/289 successful passes.
Spurs’ dominance is clear to see, especially considering how many players created chances in the game. Eriksen’s (3), Dembele and Walker created (5) total chances, while Roberto Soldado created (3) chances. A team total of 19 chances created.
Briefly away from his playmaking ability, Eriksen got stuck in with his tackling. He won 100% of his tackles, making 1 tackle, and a total of (5) ground duels, winning (2) of them – a 40% success rate, he also lost out on his (2) aerial duels.
Overall Christian Eriksen Judgement
Spurs simply dominated the game throughout, and rarely came under threat from Chris Hughton’s Norwich side, barring an outstanding challenge from Danny Rose on Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
Christian Eriksen will be a fan favourite for Spurs, as his attacking and creative mind will be saluted by the White Hart Lane faithful, a typical Spurs player.
4231 looks to be the formation for Spurs over the coming season.
Stats images from FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone app.