In the lead up to last weekend’s match between Swansea and Tottenham, many Spurs fans were looking at the form of Gylfi Sigurdsson and questioning whether the club made the right decision selling him. The player that has assumed the playmaker role at Tottenham this season – and most of this calendar year – is Christian Eriksen.
It is well-known that he is a player with lots of ability, but he hasn’t grabbed the headlights like Sigurdsson has managed to since his return to Swansea. Despite this, Eriksen has shown in recent weeks that he is a key player for Tottenham and their progress going forward.
As we near the end of the 2014 though, the top goal scoring midfielder – excluding penalties – during this year in the Premier League has been Eriksen with 12 goals ahead of Juan Mata (11) and Yaya Toure (10). During this season, the Danish international has scored 6 goals including 3 in his last 5 matches that have helped Tottenham win 2-1 on 3 occasions – without his goals throughout the campaign would have seen Spurs obtain 9 fewer points. In comparison, Sigurdsson has scored 2 goals, but has seen a bigger influence on the creativity side of play.
Sigurdsson has enjoyed a more successful season so far. The Swansea playmaker has created 41 chances this season and assisted 8 goals in the process, while Eriksen has created 33 chances but his first assist of the season came on Sunday against Swansea after getting 8 last season. Looking past the numbers, Sigurdsson is a pivotal part of Swansea’s attacking and the majority of attacks go through him so his number will be slightly higher. Also, Sigurdsson has Wilfred Bony in front of him whereas Eriksen has a number of different strikers playing alongside him who have not been prolific.
Like during Sigurdsson’s time at Tottenham, Eriksen has been forced out wide in 7 of his appearances this season where he can be crowded out. In the middle with the ability to use both feet and take on a player by going whether side of the opposition, Eriksen has a higher successful take-on percentage of 67.65% compared to Sigurdsson’s 51.43%. Again on Sunday, Eriksen started out on the wing and looked to move centrally when possible – this positioning instinct resulted in Tottenham’s winner – but being comfortable on his left and right means he can create a chance to cross without also having to dribble past his marker – Sunday saw 10 crosses in total from Eriksen, with the rest of Spurs side making 8 between them and Swansea 11.
Christian Eriksen has also willingness to drop deeper to collect the ball. On Sunday against Swansea, Eriksen recovered the ball on 9 occasions – with 6 coming inside the Tottenham half – and this has been a regular occurrence throughout this campaign making him a favourite with Pochettino’s style of play.
Overall, both players are of similar quality but shown by Sigurdsson during his time at Tottenham and Swansea he thrives on being the main link between the midfield and striker. At a younger age of 22, Eriksen also has the opportunity to get better and better – and the signs have been there in the last few weeks that Pochettino’s coaching is having an positive effect with Eriksen’s influence increasing by the week.