Blog by: Ani
Christian Eriksen’s first appearance for Tottenham Hotspur will go down as one of the best non-scoring debuts the club has witnessed in recent years.
He was involved in both of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goals in the 2-0 win over Norwich City Saturday. Given the chief criticism of Tottenham this season has been a lack of creativity, this was a welcome development for manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Starting him at the first real opportunity, the Portuguese clearly had faith in Eriksen to make an immediate impact.
Last month’s purchase from Ajax settled quickly, as he increasingly saw more of the ball during the game’s opening phase. With 10 minutes gone, he went about making the White Hart Lane crowd take notice in impressive fashion.
Eriksen advanced into the right side of the Norwich box, nimbly skipping between a pair of defenders surprised by his directness. His subsequent shot was saved by John Ruddy, before Roberto Soldado back-heeled it against the post.
The Dane chanced a similarly positive run a few minutes later, only this time Sebastien Bassong maneuvered him off the ball.
These attacks hinted at the more flashy aspects of the skillful Eriksen’s game. Before 30 minutes were up, he showcased his eye for a pass and awareness.
The tee-up from Soldado and the run from Sigurdsson were just as vital in Spurs’ opener, but it was Eriksen bringing these elements together with a well-timed and weighted through ball that caught the eye.
Many frenetic moments come during a football match. Possessing patience in a moment on the ball that could amount to a second or less is difficult. The 21-year-old appears to be confident enough in his judgement to know when to act, and here he made the most of Sigurdsson’s movement.
For Spurs’ second, Eriksen had more time at hand. Nonetheless, his choice in picking out Paulinho bursting into space on his right was a smart one. The Brazilian took the pass in his stride and worked a nice cross to Sigurdsson at the back post.
On other occasions, Eriksen’s decision-making was less telling. A rushed shooting effort had preceded Tottenham going two-nil up, and his influence dimmed in the minutes prior to his substitution.
A touch of perspective must be applied to the progress of a youthful player who is still settling into a new country. With that said, Spurs have reason to be encouraged by this start.
Many had suggested pre-game that Villas-Boas would opt to withdraw one of his previously starting wide-men in order to play Eriksen. Instead, he used the absence of the injured Etienne Capoue to start him at the head of a three-man midfield.
The combined pressing of the Spurs defense and Mousa Dembele and Paulinho in midfield made this work terrifically. Eriksen is no luxury player, and his wanting of the ball ensured he made the most of his teammates’ efforts in closing down the Canaries.
Villas-Boas may set his team up differently against tougher opposition, or indeed in the kind of challenging environment they can expect at Cardiff City next weekend. As has been the theme of Spurs’ season so far, Eriksen’s presence ensures his manager has plenty of options.
One of the less tangible contributions of the £11.5 million man was how he helped his new fans begin to forget about a certain Welshman.
Seeing as Gareth Bale would score on his Real Madrid debut later on Saturday, a poor result/performance by Spurs would not have done much for the club’s morale.
Eriksen helped ensure this was never a thought.
Tottenham may have found a new hero in the form of the Denmark international. Considering the talented Erik Lamela has only made a couple of cameo appearances thus far, there is reason to be hopeful in North London about a prosperous post-Bale future.